People, artefacts and ephemera

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

It goes without saying that people are the lifeblood of any organisation.  It is people who conceive of organisations, imagine them into existence, and build the alliances that make them real.  When we come to trace the history of an organisation, to look back and make sense of what has gone before, people are the most important source.  Memories, however fleeting and fragile, are an important key to the past.

However, we humans have other ways of leaving traces; traces that capture and store important moments in time.  In the context of an organisation or association like the ANZASW, memories are stored for posterity in documents, letter, leaflets, minutes of meetings, photographs, drawings and so on. These mundane artefacts, when archived carefully, transform into treasures. They become taonga that reveal a history, the story of an organisation’s conception, birth, growth, and development over time.

In the archives of the ANZASW, and in the private collections of our members, there are such treasures.  Some of these important historical artefacts are very rare. Leaflets that were once widely distributed across Aotearoa New Zealand have all but disappeared. Hard copies of reports and minutes – accessed by researchers to describe our history – have seldom been seen by the wider community.

Digitising artefacts, documents and other ephemera makes them mobile, accessible and searchable.  Over the next three months the ANZASW digital history project will use this blog to release just a few of our treasures made digital. Whether you were around at the time and know something of their provenance, or simply want to comment or ask a question, we encourage you to use the blog to comment, and to respond.

In the meantime,  let us return to people.  In the recording below Mike O’Brien – Associate Professor at Auckland University and former ANZASW President (1976-1978) – reflects on the history of the association from 1968 to the present day. Please feel free to leave a comment on Mike’s narrative.

Ngā hiahia kia titiro ki te tīmata, a, ka kite ai tātou te mutunga.

You must understand the beginning, if you wish to see the end.