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Digital Repository to Preserve Canterbury, NZ’s Heritage

Digital Repository to Preserve Canterbury Heritage
Photo Credit: Christchurch City Council

The heritage of Canterbury, New Zealand had been captured in a new digital repository. It contains rare images and previously unpublished community and personal records that are now publicly accessible.

According to a recent press release, Canterbury Stories collects and shares online collections from multiple Christchurch City Libraries’ sources.


These sources include archives, publications, photographs and content contributed by the community.

Christchurch City Council Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson shared that the innovative repository provides a valuable portal to the past.

It is critical to enhance and extend the people’s collective memory and share the heritage with the widest possible audience via channels such as the Canterbury Stories.

By preserving the precious photographs and publications, the resources can be protected for the future generations.

Many photos have come from the 17,000-strong collection of city photographer Doc Ross, the Orion (Municipal Electricity Department) infrastructure archive, Christchurch’s The Star archive, the annual library-run Photo Hunt, and Christchurch City Libraries’ own heritage collection.

Included among the rarities is The New Zealand Wheelman, which is a very fragile Christchurch publication on cycling in the 1890s.

It also has never-seen-before records of local and community organisations and clubs, churches, businesses and individuals.

Christchurch City Libraries’ physical heritage collection covers Canterbury and the Chatham Islands from 1850 on, and includes letters, diaries, booklets, government documents, and personal papers.

Digitised material from this collection will be available over time.

About the initiative

Canterbury Stories features different themes and various options for exploring the online repository, including the ability to enlarge images.

It also focuses on individual areas, such as the Documentary Project on Woolston, a collaboration between Libraries and photography students from the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts.

More diverse and personal stories and images, which document the remarkable story of the region’s transformation, will be shared and added continuously.

Other reported initiatives

Digitalisation had made it easier to preserve history and culture. OpenGov Asia had reported on some of these initiatives.

In was organised in partnership with the Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Architecture and Design, and showcased how digital technology can help document New Zealand’s architectural history.

Immersive Legacies: 320 The Terrace exhibition explores how the country’s architectural heritage can be documented using a range of digital technology.

The exhibition presents the residential flats at 320 The Terrace, or The Gordon Wilson Flats, as a case study for the generation of digital heritage.

Led by the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Design, the project is designed to show how virtual reality technologies can provide new ways of exploring and understanding heritage buildings.

The exhibition introduces a variety of virtual reality experiences that present the building throughout its lifetime.

This celebrates the opportunities provided by the digital reconstruction of heritage, and how emerging digital technology use in architectural history enriches the representation and experience of historical architecture.

The University of Indonesia, meanwhile, utilised digital technology to preserve, secure and maintain the culture of a tribe located 156kms from Bengkulu City.

The Electronic Myth and Ritual Documentation Program was initiated to maintain, secure and prevent the loss of the Enggano culture.

The project aims to address the problem of how the Enggano language and culture are slowly fading among the younger generation as they are slowly being influenced by modern information technology (IT).

Since millennials relate well with ICT, which has become a big part of their lifestyle, it would be easier for them to learn about their history with its help.


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