In the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has taken a proactive stance in the digitising of important whakapapa files. The digital scanning project, which includes backing up hard copy whakapapa records, is proceeding at pace and Kaiwhakahaere, Mark Solomon is among the many breathing a sigh of relief.
“Shortly after the earthquakes, we had both our hard copy whakapapa records and our whakapapa database (CRM) secured but we did not have scanned copies as a third back-up. Now we are getting closer to completing this third back-up and I’m pleased this is the case,” he says.
The Whakapapa Unit and the BIS team have combined resources to get the job done using SharePoint scanning and storage tools. These provide a secure, practical and purpose-built opportunity to provide scanned and digitised copies of taonga in the event of another natural disaster.
“As many will be aware, the whakapapa working files were among the first batch of priority items retrieved from Te Waipounamu House after the February 22 earthquake (thanks again to the brave volunteers who recovered the files); and we were fortunate to have friends such as the Air Force Museum to help us store the volumes of whakapapa files securely,” says Solomon.
He says that retrieval raised a number of serious questions about whether or not back-up systems were good enough and a team of experts were brought in to advise on the way forward.
“With assistance from the BIS team, we were able to bed down a system of scanning, indexing and uploading our whakapapa documents into a digitised storage system. That process of authorised scanning is happening in-house and there are layers of security fixed into the system.
“I think the examples we saw during the earthquakes – of buildings severely damaged, access to legal documents stalled and the long wait for many industries in seeking files and valuables – means we have gained an exceptional insight into what can go wrong and what will go wrong when a disaster occurs. I’m pleased that this scanning project has arisen out of our desire to learn from the earthquakes and it may be that it sets a precedent for other iwi and indigenous peoples thinking about the archiving and safe-keeping of their own taonga.”