The fate of an invaluable archive of up to 8 million historic New Zealand newspaper photographs and negatives is before the courts in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Fairfax Media is endeavouring to recover the photo archives of 72 New Zealand newspapers dating back to the 19th century, along with those of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age, and other Australian newspapers.
In May 2013, the Australian media empire did a deal with Rogers Photo Archive (RPA), Little Rock, to sell the photos, in return for the United States firm digitally copying them, and providing digital files back to New Zealand and Australia.
RPA is now in receivership and faces at least 10 lawsuits totalling more than $94 million.
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The Ministry of Culture and Heritage which granted Fairfax a temporary export permit under the Protected Object Act is "concerned" and says it "reserves the right to take action as appropriate".
Fairfax communications manager Emma Carter says the archive is in the hands of the court-appointed receiver, and "work continues to digitise the archive".