Friday, 1 October 2010

New New Zealand digital resource - Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives

The Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives recently launched a website containing the first 24 volumes of the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives. Covering the 1860s and 1870s, it includes more than 1600 reports, and it is just the start.

The Speaker noted:

"We have only just begun to lift the curtain on the hidden treasures in the A to Js. We now need to digitise the whole period 1854 to 1999 when the modern-day Parliamentary Papers begin. It is hoped that this pilot website will provide a launching pad through which further digitisation of the A to Js can be achieved with the support of other stakeholders, and to date, some have indicated their financial support to enable this to happen.

"The first 24 volumes will eventually become an estimated 600 volumes, though the speed at which that happens will depend on available funding. In a recent on-line poll, conducted by Digital New Zealand on candidates for digitisation, the A to Js were voted one of the top information source priorities."

The website for this resource is at:

The Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR), sometimes known as "the A to Js", is a collection of government-related reports published every year from 1858. The reports cover many subjects, documenting the work of government departments and a wide range of other activities carried out by, or of interest to, the government of the day. The AJHR is one of the most valuable tools for understanding how New Zealand has developed from its earliest colonial beginnings to the present. It provides a wealth of information for researchers working across many fields.

All papers tabled before Parliament are considered appendices to the Journal. The House orders some of these papers to be printed, and these are published annually in a separate series of volumes as the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives. The Legislative Council (or Upper House of Parliament) also published a separate volume of papers, the Journal of the Legislative Council (not included on this website), before it was abolished in 1951. The Council's Journal includes appendices at the end of some volumes.

The AJHR is arranged into broad themes. The following list provides a broad outline of the themes since the late nineteenth century:

•A: legislative, political, and foreign affairs

•B: public finance

•C: Crown lands, mines, forests, primary production, environment

•D: immigration, public works, energy

•E: education, welfare, and justice

•F: post office, broadcasting, communications

•G: Maori affairs

•H: miscellaneous, commissions of inquiry

•I: reports of select committees

•J: petitions

Each theme includes a series of reports grouped by "shoulder number" — a letter of the alphabet followed by a number. For example:

"General report on lunatic asylums in New Zealand (by Dr. Paley)", AJHR, 1874, H-1

This indicates that the report was published in 1874 and was the first document in the "H" theme that year.

What's in the AJHR?

  • Annual reports of government departments
  • Reports of commissions of inquiry
  • Reports relating to broader government work
  • Images and maps



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