Records Toolkit

Archives New Zealand’s guidance on information and records management

Disposal moratorium on records relevant to the Royal Commission issued by the Chief Archivist

Posted by Archives New Zealand on 28 March 2019

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On 28 March 2019 the Chief Archivist issued a General Notice revoking authority to dispose of public records under section 20 of the Public Records Act 2005 (the Act).  

In doing so the Chief Archivist is exercising his authority to implement a moratorium on the disposal of any public records relevant to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions Te Kōmihana Karauna mō ngā Tūkino o Mua ki te Hunga i Tiakina e te Kāwanatanga i Tiakina hoki e ngā Whare o te Whakapono as set out in its Terms of Reference.  

  • The disposal moratorium is necessary to ensure that relevant records are protected from destruction and available for the purposes of the Royal Commission.

  • It supports the work of the Royal Commission and reinforces the Government’s expectations for transparency, accountability and co-operation.

  • Public offices need to consider and actively preserve all records that may be relevant.

  • The disposal moratorium may have significant implications for your organisations' current information management processes and policies.

We strongly recommend that the disposal moratorium is communicated within your organisation to ensure that no records that could be required by the Royal Commission are inadvertently disposed of.   

Frequently asked questions 

What implications does the disposal moratorium have for my organisation? 

This action affects general and organisation-specific disposal authorisations issued under the Act and may affect your public office dependent on your type of work.  We recommend the following:

  • Ensure that all relevant staff responsible for information and records management, legal services, human resources management, internal investigations and information and communication technology (ICT) understand the full impact of the disposal moratorium.

  • Determine if your public office or your contractors and records service providers have any public records due or overdue for destruction that come within the scope of the disposal moratorium.

  • Check any public records already proposed for destruction to ensure they are not covered by the disposal moratorium.

  • Retain any public records subject to the disposal moratorium until further notice.

What happens if my public office has no disposal authority or our disposal authority has expired? Does the disposal moratorium still apply? 

Yes, the disposal moratorium suspends the two General Disposal Authorities (GDA6 and GDA7) which are available to all public offices.    

How will I know if our records are relevant? 

Each public office will need to assess their records against the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference to determine if the public records they hold are relevant.  

 If there is any doubt about whether any public records may be relevant to the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference, then the public records should be retained. 

As the Royal Commission progresses with its work it may provide more specific guidance about what public records will fall within the Terms of Reference.

Does the disposal moratorium apply to public records which have only administrative value?

Yes. For some public offices it is possible that information of interest to the Royal Commission could be found in the most mundane or routine of records.  

If there is any doubt about whether any public records may be relevant to the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference, then the records should be retained. 

Please contact Archives New Zealand at for advice and support if you need guidance on working through the impact on the management of your organisation’s records.

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