Digitising New Zealand colonial history:new website launched

Press Release – Waikato University

A significant reserve of New Zealand’s history is now available online, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Library and a lot of work at the University of Waikato Library.28 October 2011

Digitising New Zealand’s colonial history – new website launched

A significant reserve of New Zealand’s history is now available online, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Library and a lot of work at the University of Waikato Library.

The British Parliamentary Papers – Colonies: New Zealand are now available in digital form. These despatches from downunder include reports, statutes, letters and other documents sent between the colony and the British Colonial Office in London spanning 40 years between 1830 and 1870.

“Few libraries in New Zealand carry copies of these original BPPs, and as a result they’re little known and little used,” says Kathryn Parsons the University’s New Zealand Collection librarian. “This website will change all that.”

Kathryn says the 20 volumes of hard copy are fragile and foxed, but wonderful in content and detail. “So having them online gives greater access to some of our most interesting history.” Subjects vary greatly; from the behaviour of Governor Hobson, land sales, military clothing for pensioned soldiers, and journeys around the country which include detailed descriptions.

There are detailed maps available too. Map librarian John Robson says there are maps of downtown Auckland in 1841 when all the city was being put to tender, and each lot is marked and each buyer identified. “You see familiar names.”

The BPP pages allow browsing by date, by sender and recipient of documents, by title, and full searching by names and keywords. It can be found at http://digital.liby.waikato.ac.nz/bppnz

The website is the latest in a series of initiatives from the University of Waikato Library, and joins digital versions of the Index of Maori Names, and New Zealand content from the Illustrated London News, and the CDrom version of the Ancient History of the Maori and an online New Zealand Short Story Index.

ENDS

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