ID: 188

MASTERS, Talei; BRADEN, Aaron 


Talei Masters is a Senior Archivist/Advisor in the Digital Continuity team at Archives New Zealand.

This role involves the provision of support to government agencies in digital records transfer and to

Archives New Zealand in managing digital archives. Talei also serves as Secretary General of the

Pacific Regional Branch of the ICA (PARBICA) and has delivered training in the PARBICA

Recordkeeping for Good Governance Toolkit in Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands.

Talei has an MSc Econ in Archive Administration from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. She worked in local government authorities in the UK as a professional archivist and records manager for 9 years, before moving to New Zealand in 2012.


Aaron Braden is a Senior Archivist/Advisor in the Digital Continuity Team at Archives New Zealand,

where his work has involved the development of digital transfer guidance and tools for agencies and

staff. He also provides advice to government agencies relating to their digital recordkeeping and

internally to users who manage digital records.

Aaron has a BA in History and PG Dip in Anthropology. He started his career at the Hocken Library in

Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2000 he took up the role of Archivist at the Otago Settlers Museum. He

joined the Dunedin Regional Office of Archives New Zealand in 2003 and was involved in appraisal,

accessioning and descriptive work, and providing access to the records. Moving to Wellington in 2009,

he worked on the design and implementation of the new repository management system, before moving to the Disposal and Acquisition team as a Senior Archivist/Advisor.


Hammering a square peg into a round hole?

Brief summary:

In a paper presented at the ICA Congress 2012 in Brisbane, Archives New Zealand introduced its new conceptual item model, re-designed to accommodate the description of digital records. In this paper their colleagues will report on their experience of attempting to implement that model with real digital records.


During its Government Digital Archive Programme, Archives New Zealand reviewed its descriptive

item model. It was aligned with international standards and peer reviewed. The key changes were an increase in descriptive elements, the introduction of new record entities and the ability to create relationships between them. The latter was to ensure we could represent the complex nature of digital records.

The Programme included a workstream of digital transfers, through which processes and tools would be developed. This workstream provided real records on which to test the model. Traditionally, archivists at Archives New Zealand either import lists of physical records provided by the transferring agency, or catalogue them themselves post transfer. For the first time, archivists had to map metadata from recordkeeping and business systems to the archival model. This exposed them to the impact systems can have on the nature of records and the challenge of performing a migration. They were presented with a significant amount of both recordkeeping and process metadata, but the perception that most of the job of description had been done by the creators was quickly dispelled; metadata of varying quality and consistency led to concerns about the accessibility of records using this new model.

By the end of the exercise, participants were questioning if it was possible to implement the conceptual model as expected. Archivists were left with the realisation that the resulting representation of the metadata and the digital content was a retrograde step for the records’ accessibility and flexibility to users. The mapping process felt like hammering a square peg into a round hole to fit the requirements of the transfer process.

Scientific contribution:

This exercise has provided an opportunity to explore the difference between a conceptual model and

its implementation, as well as to understand the incongruity of archival practices with access and

usability requirements. Archives New Zealand seeks to share its experience with the wider profession

as it reconsiders its approach. The paper questions the validity of conforming metadata for digital

records to a fixed descriptive item model. Another option would be to preserve all the original

metadata and design a system that can present it on the fly according to a user-defined selection. It

also asks why we continue to struggle to adapt archival management systems to accommodate digital records as well as physical? Current systems are restrictive – surely there is scope for an innovative solution to allow creators, users and custodians to interact with the records in their own ways.


archives, digital, records, government, intelligent agents, interaction with users