Some of New Zealand's most precious historic documents look set to be moved to a new home, the Government has announced.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin on Wednesday unveiled plans to replace the ailing national archive in Wellington by 2024.

The facility and the nearby National Library hold about $1.7 billion worth of the country's most significant historic records.

The archive is 50 years old and has been suffering.


It's leaking, needs major upgrades, earthquake strengthening and in 2017 stopped taking in new documents because it was bursting at the seams.

That year, the Government spent $7.2 million moving the Treaty of Waitangi, the Suffrage Petition and the Declaration of Independence a few hundred metres from the archive to the National Library to better protect them.

"I have toured with Ministers and seen drips from ceiling into buckets," Martin said.

The new plan will see a new 22,000-square-metre archive built on the former site of Defence House - the former Defence Force headquarters demolished after the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

However, the Department of Internal Affairs has confirmed while plenty of significant records will be going into the new building, there's no plans to move the Treaty or the Suffrage Petition out of the National Library.

The new archive will attach to the National Library by an air bridge to create a
The new archive will attach to the National Library by an air bridge to create a "campus". Rendering / Supplied

The new building will privately built and leased to the Government, an arrangement Martin said would significantly cheaper than repairing the current facility.

It's estimated the construction will cost the developer between $200 million to $225 million.

It'll be connected to the National Library by an air-bridge, setting up a "documentary heritage campus".


The work has been contracted out to AMP Capital Investors through a tender process and the design phase will run until 2021.

The construction is currently scheduled to finish in late 2024.

A final sign-off will be based on the final cost and available funding. The Government has chipped in about $25m over two years to fund planning.

Martin called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"This connection provides an opportunity for these two institutions to work even more collaboratively, in a campus-like situation helping us to pass on our culture, stories, traditions and heritage to future generations," she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Treaty of Waitangi and Suffrage Petition would be moving to the new archive building. The Department of Internal Affairs says there are no plans for such a move. The Herald was misinformed.

Rendering / Supplied
Rendering / Supplied