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Distinguished heritage items inscripted on UNESCO register

News: 28 November 2013

The Sir Edmund Hillary Archive, the original score and lyrics of God Defend New Zealand and the personal and literary papers of Charles Brasch take their place on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register of documentary heritage.

Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill said, “we are delighted to welcome these three inscriptions of distinguished documentary heritage items onto the register. All three greatly contribute to the story of our nation’s heritage and are significant to the identity of New Zealanders today.

“The Sir Edmund Hillary Archive tells the story of this famous New Zealander through his personal papers and other documents. Our National Anthem is sung at important events both at home and overseas; and Charles Brasch is highly regarded for his work in the development of our literary and arts culture. These items of documentary heritage are excellent sources of research for historians, researchers, educators and many others in the wider community.”

UNESCO recognition draws attention to the significance of documentary heritage and the institutions that are their custodians. Inscription on the register raises awareness of the custodian’s institutions and helps ensure the inscribed items are protected, preserves and accessible.

Sir Edmund Hillary bequeathed his personal Archive of papers, photographs and documents to the Auckland Museum. The Museum Director Roy Clare says, "the Hillary Archive is truly unique and as its kaitiaki the museum is very pleased it has been added to the New Zealand Memory of the World register.

"We know its significance and are reminded of its richness every time we delve into it but it is great to have this external acknowledgement of its importance. It is recognition of the value of Sir Edmund Hillary's ongoing legacy.

The only surviving manuscript versions of the original lyrics and score of New Zealand’s national anthem, God Defend New Zealand is held in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Auckland Libraries.

Auckland Libraries Manager Libraries and Information Allison Dobbie says, “the national anthem is sung at every official and sporting occasion and is thus one of our most powerful symbols of national identity.

The personal and literary papers of poet, editor and arts patron Charles Orwell Brasch (1909-1973) are held at the Hocken Library in Dunedin.

Hocken Curator of Archives and Manuscripts Anna Blackman says, “we are very fortunate that the Hocken holds such a substantial collection from Brasch, whose work, papers and journals are a significant resource for researchers focusing on New Zealand’s rich cultural and literary development during his life-time.

“The inscription is an exciting development for the Hocken Library, and a first for our collections. National status registration on the New Zealand Memory of the World Register is tangible recognition of the national historic significance of the Brasch papers for New Zealand’s literary and arts history.”

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 and sits alongside UNESCO’s Heritage List and Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Memory of the World register is the Programme’s flagship and promotes the nation’s heritage stories to the wider community. The New Zealand Programme was established in 2010. Further information about Memory of the World and the inscriptions on the register can be viewed on

Updated on 7th October 2019