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Three 100-year-old diaries returning home to New Zealand

Press Release – Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Three original First World War diaries currently held in Leeds Universitys Liddle collection will be returned to New Zealand as a result of an agreement with the University, Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian Manat Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, …
Three original First World War diaries currently held in Leeds University’s Liddle collection will be returned to New Zealand as a result of an agreement with the University, Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, said today.

“Manatū Taonga and National Library representatives have been working with Leeds University since the middle of last year to advance the digitisation of its New Zealand material and consider the possible repatriation of some of the items,” Neill Atkinson said.

“Peter Liddle visited New Zealand in 1974 to interview veterans and add to his First and Second World War collection which is now held by the university.
“The collection includes original documents (dairies and letters) from 15 New Zealand First World War veterans, as well as photocopied material and more than 70 oral history recordings.

“While the removal of this material did not breach any cultural heritage legislation at the time, some veterans and their family members have subsequently questioned how Peter Liddle obtained it.

“As a result the provenance of all the New Zealand items in the collection has now been investigated and three 1915 dairies, those of Cyril James Claridge, Hartley Valentine Palmer and Clifford James Walsh, will be returning.
“They will be placed into the National Library’s Alexander Turnbull Library collection for safe-keeping,” Neill Atkinson said.

We are looking forward to receiving them into the Library’s collection later in the year says Mark Crookston, Associate Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
“Most importantly, digitised copies of all original material of New Zealanders in the Liddle collection will be made available to the Turnbull Library, significantly adding to our existing First World War collection.

“We acknowledge and thank our colleagues at University of Leeds Library for the constructive relationship we have established,” Mark Crookston said.

Both agree the four-year centenary of the First World War has drawn focus to the value of New Zealand’s documentary heritage. Having the diaries back here is a tangible reminder of the importance of this event in our country’s history.

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