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The National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) has been implementing a legal requirement for publishers to deposit digital materials that meet the definition of a “public document” since 2006. Publishers must generally provide two copies of the medium or device containing the document within twenty days of publication, with the NLNZ providing a legal deposit form and dedicated email address for the submission of documents, as well as several alternative submission options.

The NLNZ is also authorized to copy any internet document and can therefore harvest any website produced in New Zealand without seeking permission from the publisher or website owner. The NLNZ has been selectively harvesting websites since 1999, and allows people to nominate websites for harvesting. In addition, it has adopted “whole of domain harvesting” for the .NZ domain, and has been running such a harvest annually since 2015.

Where a digital document is commercially available or otherwise restricted, the NLNZ only enables three people at a time to access it in its reading room. Open-access documents and websites harvested on a selective basis are made available on the NLNZ website.

Electronic publications collected by the NLNZ are held in the National Digital Heritage Archive for long-term digital preservation. The NLNZ website provides technical information regarding the preservation and security of such publications.

I. Introduction

A requirement to deposit digital materials with the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) came into effect in August 2006 through the issuance of the National Library Requirement Electronic Documents) Notice 2006 (2006 Notice).[1] The Notice was authorized by part 4 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 (NLNZ Act), which states that the relevant government minister may, by a notice in the Gazette, require a publisher of a “public document” to provide copies to the National Librarian, either in printed form or, if the document is an “electronic document,” by providing the medium that contains the document.[2]

A “public document” means a document of which one or more copies are issued to the public, available to the public on request, or available to the public on the internet, and that is printed or produced in New Zealand, or commissioned to be published in another country by a New Zealand resident or business, and in which copyright exists under the Copyright Act 1994.[3] An “electronic document” is a “public document in which information is stored or displayed by means of an electronic recording device, computer, or other electronic medium, and includes an Internet document.”[4]

In addition, the NLNZ Act states that the minister may authorize the National Librarian “to make a copy, at any time or times and at his or her discretion, of public documents that are Internet documents in accordance with any terms and conditions as to format, public access, or other matters that are specified in the notice.”[5] An “Internet document” is “a public document that is published on the Internet, whether or not there is any restriction on access to the document; and includes the whole or part of a website.”[6] The 2006 Notice subsequently authorized the National Librarian to “copy any Internet document.”[7]

The NLNZ’s strategic directions to 2030 include the collection of and access to digital materials within the different focus areas, as follows:

  • “Born digital content reflecting contemporary New Zealand life and knowledge will be readily available for access and research.”[8]
  • “New Zealand’s collecting institutions will have access to expertise to use new technologies and tools that preserve digital heritage. Organisations will integrate digital preservation into their collecting policies and professional capabilities to maintain access to collections in the future.”[9]
  • “New Zealand knowledge resources available from libraries, educational, cultural and research institutions will be digitally accessible to all New Zealanders.”[10]

The NLNZ’s 2016–2018 collection plan for New Zealand and Pacific published materials states that, with respect to electronic publications, “[t]he sheer volume of online content in scope for legal deposit makes it impossible for the Library to be comprehensive in its collecting of such material, but it does aim to build a significant collection which is representative of New Zealand’s published documentary heritage.”[11] It further states that not all websites can be collected and therefore the NLNZ “chooses to prioritise websites to collect around certain subjects or themes.”[12]

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II. Digital Legal Deposit Requirements and Processes

The legal deposit requirements, including those relating to digital items, apply to all New Zealand publishers.[13] “Publisher” is broadly defined in the legislation to mean,

(a) in relation to a printed public document, the publisher of that document; and

(b) in relation to any other public document other than an Internet document, the person who produced in New Zealand, or commissioned the production outside New Zealand of, the copies of the document issued to, or available on request by, the public; and

(c) in relation to an Internet document, the person who has control over the content of the website, or part of the website, on which the document is located[14]

A. Deposit of Electronic Documents

The 2006 Notice contains the following requirement for publishers to provide copies of “off-line documents” to the National Librarian:

Every publisher of an off-line document must, at the publisher’s own expense, give to the National Librarian, within 20 working days after the date when the document is first published, 1 or more copies of the document as follows:

(a) 2 copies of the medium or device that contains the document; or

(b) 1 copy of the medium or device that contains the document, if—

(i) the document is a single discrete item the price of which exceeds $1,000; or

(ii) the document is available for an annual subscription that exceeds $3,000.[15]

“Off-line documents” are electronic documents that are not internet documents and include documents that are stored or used by means such as magnetic media, optical media, or an electronic storage device.[16]

Both this requirement and the ability for the National Librarian to copy internet documents (see Part II(B), below) apply to previously published documents, with the Notice stating that it “applies to all classes of electronic documents in existence on, or coming into existence after, the date on which this notice comes into force and all publishers of those electronic documents.”[17]

The NLNZ website advises publishers to complete the legal deposit form and email this, together with their digital publication, to a designated email address.[18] In addition, publishers have the following alternative options for depositing their online documents:

We can either download your publication from the Internet, if we know it is available, or you can send it to us directly. You can:

  • Email us at [email protected] to notify us where we can download it. You may need to provide us with membership or other means of access if it is restricted.
  • Email it as an attachment to [email protected] – maximum file size 20MB.
    • Transfer it to us via Dropbox or another cloud service. You can:
    • upload your files to a service of your choice and provide [email protected] with access, or
  • deposit directly to our Dropbox using our Dropbox File Request portal, which lets you upload multiple files straight from your computer without requiring your own Dropbox account.
  • Deposit very large files or a large number of files using our FTP server. Email [email protected] to request access.
  • Post your electronic publications to us, or drop them in on a physical carrier such as CD-ROM or USB drive. See the instructions for physical publications above, and please let us know whether you want the carrier returned to you.
  • If you were previously a user of our Web Deposit Tool,[[19]] please note that this has been discontinued. Please use one of the above options or email [email protected] for advice.
  • If your digital publication is paywalled, restricted to membership, or not freely available for any other reason, please make sure you let us know so that we can archive it under Restricted Access conditions.[20]

Publishers are also advised to provide their documents without any Digital Rights Management or other technical usage restrictions and certain file formats are also suggested. If a publisher is unable to deposit a digital document in any of the above ways they can contact the NLNZ, which states that “[o]ur research and development staff love the challenge of new formats.”[21]

B. Web Archiving

As noted above, the 2006 Notice states simply that “[t]he National Librarian is authorised to copy any Internet document.”[22] The definition of “Internet document” in the NLNZ Act, together with the definition of “public document,” essentially means that the NLNZ can harvest any website produced or hosted in New Zealand.

Previously, the NLNZ started selectively harvesting websites for archiving in 1999.[23] The information regarding its current approach to web archiving includes the following:

Most web harvesting is undertaken on a selective basis by the Alexander Turnbull Library. These websites form the New Zealand Web Archive, which is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s published collections.

Special harvests of the .NZ domain have been undertaken by the National Library every couple of years since 2008. These provide snapshots of the New Zealand Internet. The domain harvests are not currently available to the public.[24]

People are invited to nominate websites to be added to the collection using an online form.[25] This includes Pacific Island websites or websites of New Zealanders that are published overseas, outside of the .NZ domain. A permissions process is followed for overseas websites that are not covered by the legal deposit legislation.

In addition to selective harvesting, the NLNZ’s “whole of domain harvest,” referred to above, “recognises the importance of the internet in all areas of New Zealand society and culture by taking a ‘snapshot’ of the whole .nz domain as it exists on the web during the time of harvesting. The Library’s first domain harvest took place in 2008. Further harvests were run in 2010 and 2013. They have been run annually since 2015.”[26] With regard to the technical parameters for the harvest, the NLNZ states that these were developed after consultation with the public and internet stakeholder groups, and include the following:

  • Websites that fall under the .nz country code
  • Websites that fall under .com, .net and .org that can be programmatically determined to be hosted on machines that are physically located in New Zealand
  • Selected websites based overseas that are covered by the provisions of the National Library of New Zealand Act (2003)[27]

The Internet Archive, a US-based not-for-profit entity, is commissioned to perform the harvest. The data acquired during harvests is stored at the NLNZ and can be viewed in its reading rooms.[28]

The NLNZ website also provides general technical information for webmasters, including design tips for making websites preservable.[29]

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III. Access and Preservation

The NLNZ Act requires that publishers provide assistance in relation to the storage and use of electronic documents, stating,

(1) If, at any time, the National Librarian makes a written request for assistance, a publisher of an electronic document to which a requirement relates must, at the publisher’s own expense, provide reasonable assistance within 20 working days of receiving the request to enable the National Librarian to store and use an identical copy of the document.

(2) A written request under subsection (1) may relate to—

(a) 1 or more electronic documents; or

(b) 1 or more classes of electronic documents.[30]

A. Access to Electronic Documents

In terms of access, the NLNZ Act provides that, with respect to the use of public documents deposited with the NLNZ,

(2) For the purposes of carrying out his or her duties, the National Librarian and any employee, contractor, or agent of the chief executive may possess, copy, store in electronic form (whether offline or online), and use any copy of a deposited document.

(3) The National Librarian may provide not more than 3 copies of a deposited document for use by members of the public (whether at the premises of the National Library or elsewhere) but, except as provided in subsection (4) or with the publishers agreement, must not make the document available on the Internet.

(4) If a deposited document is made publicly available on the Internet by the publisher without restriction on its access or use by members of the public, the National Librarian may make the document available for access and use by members of the public on the Internet (as well as in the manner permitted by subsection (3)).

(5) Except as provided in subsections (2) to (4), the law relating to copyright applies to every deposited document.[31]

The legal deposit information on the NLNZ website states that,

[i]f access to your publication is restricted, for example because it’s commercially available, it can only be accessed in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room at the National Library in Wellington, by up to 3 people at once.

If it is open access because it is openly available online or you’ve given permission, anyone can access the Legal Deposit copy via a link in our online catalogue. We can also link to your website.[32]

B. Security and Preservation

The NLNZ website provides detailed information about how it manages the security of electronic publications collected under legal deposit.[33] The introductory statement on this topic includes the following:

Electronic publications collected by the Library are held in the National Digital Heritage Archive, for long-term digital preservation. It uses the ExLibris Rosetta application. The system backend, including servers and physical storage is managed by an external supplier of Infrastructure as a Service to Government.

The Archive has been developed in accordance with best practice standards and guidelines for a trusted digital repository, and the Department is currently instituting an ongoing security roadmap for the Archive.[34]

The NLNZ website also provides technical information regarding the preservation of born-digital and digitized items that it collects or creates.[35] Furthermore, a dedicated website regarding the digital preservation program at the NLNZ[36] provides information about the tools and manuals used in the program,[37] current projects,[38] and the NLNZ’s involvement and contribution to international developments in this area.[39] It also provides access to the guiding documents for the program,[40] including a 2011 Digital Preservation Strategy[41] and Digital Preservation Policy Manual (both produced jointly by the NLNZ and Archives New Zealand).[42]

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Prepared by Kelly Buchanan
Chief, Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division I
July 2018

[1] National Library Requirement (Electronic Documents) Notice 2006 (SR 2006/118), regulation/public/2006/0118/latest/whole.html, archived at

[2] National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 (NLNZ Act), s 29(1),, archived at  

[4] NLNZ Act, s 29(1).

[5] Id. s 31(3).

[6] Id. s 29(1).

[7] National Library Requirement (Electronic Documents) Notice 2006, cl 8.

[8] Strategic Directions to 2030: Taonga, NLNZ, (last visited Apr. 17, 2018), archived at

[9] Id.

[10] Strategic Directions to 2030: Knowledge, NLNZ, (last visited Apr. 17, 2018), archived at

[11] Collecting Plan – New Zealand and Pacific Published Collections: 2016-2018, NLNZ, about-us/strategy-and-policy/collections-policy/newzealand-pacific (last visited Apr. 16, 2018), archived at

[12] Id.

[13] Legal Deposit, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[14] NLNZ Act, s 29(1).

[15] National Library Requirement (Electronic Documents) Notice 2006, cl 5.

[16] Id. cl 3.

[17] Id. cl 4.

[18] Legal Deposit, supra note 13.

[20] Submitting Your Publication: Online Digital Publications, NLNZ, legal-deposit/submitting-your-publication#online (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[21] Id.

[22] National Library Requirement (Electronic Documents) Notice 2006, cl 8.

[23] New Zealand Web Archive, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[24] Web Harvesting, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[25] Web Archive Nomination Form, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[26] Whole of Domain Web Harvest, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[27] Id.

[28] Id.

[29] Web Harvesting, supra note 24.

[30] NLNZ Act, s 33.

[31] Id. s 34.

[32] Legal Deposit, supra note 13.

[34] Id.

[35] Preserving Digital Objects, NLNZ, (last visited Mar. 16, 2018), archived at

[36] Home, Digital Preservation Programme, NLNZ, (last modified Mar. 5, 2018), archived at

[37] Preservation Tools and Manuals,Digital Preservation Programme, NLNZ, https://digitalpreservation.natlib. (last modified Dec. 12, 2017), archived at

[38] Current Projects, Digital Preservation Programme, NLNZ, (last modified Dec. 1, 2017), archived at  

[39] Community Participation, Digital Preservation Programme, NLNZ,https://digitalpreservation.natlib. (last modified Dec. 12, 2017), archived at

[40] Strategic Documents, Digital Preservation Programme, NLNZ,https://digitalpreservation.natlib. (last modified Jan. 11, 2017), archived at

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020