May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori history and whanau backgrounds most popular searches on AtoJs

2 min read

The newly digitised Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives (AtoJs) have proven popular for those interested in early Maori history and family background.

The top search terms for the quarter ending 30 January 2011 included Tainui, Orakau, ururoa, Riwai Kiore and Aotea. “This gives us an insight into how the digitised AtoJs are being used for research,” says Gordon Paynter, Manager of Business and Programme Support.

The online journals are being extended this year, with an additional 90 volumes (90,000 pages) expected to be available by June. The current collection covers 1862 1879 and this years additions will extend the online archives through to the twentieth century.

An unique discovery – a hand-written manuscript and map – was made this month by one of the team members working in the AtoJs digitisation team. The document was found hidden in of the journals donated by Canterbury University. The manuscript is most likely the unpublished report of the first Representation Commission of 1887, which fixed electorate weightings in New Zealand according to population.

The establishment of this commission is described as one of the most significant landmarks in NZs electoral history. Decisions on electoral boundaries were removed from the hands of the politicians themselves. The commission became the model for similar independent commissions in Britain and Australia.

The mysterious find is being examined by the Librarys paper conservator, Frank Fabry. It hasnt been decided yet where the document will be stored, but it will be deposited for public access following consultation with the University of Canterbury Library.

The Library has only been able to achieve this much progress with the digitisation of AtoJs thanks to its supporters. Six donors have provided $58,000 this financial year towards the AtoJs digitisation programme and the University of Canterbury Library has helped to fill the gaps in the volumes donated by Hocken. The donors are:

  • Lincoln University Library
  • NZ Business & Parliament Trust
  • NZ Historical Association
  • Parliamentary Library staff
  • Rail Heritage Trust of NZ
  • Waitakere City Libraries

Search and browse the digitised AtoJs on the AtoJs Online website

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