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Founding documents find a home

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/05/2017

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A state-of-the-art space has been created at the National Library to house New Zealand's founding documents.

The 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition are all on display at permanent exhibition He Tohu at the National Library in Molesworth St.

It is open to the public from Saturday. Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne - who recently discovered his great-grandmother signed the Suffrage Petition - says the documents have a life of their own, and "the ability to teach, inspire and move people".

"The opportunity to be up close with the real things is powerful - and brings all of us closer to the people who signed them," he said.

Planning began for He Tohu - which means "the signs" - in 2014 and is a partnership between the Crown, Maori and representatives of women's groups nationwide.

The fragile documents have been placed in specially made display cases made in Germany, which monitor light intensity, humidity and temperature to preserve them.

The room the documents are in is set at a cooler temperature.

The three pieces of New Zealand's history were formerly housed at Archives New Zealand but moved to the National Library in a dawn ceremonial procession on April 22.

He Tohu head curator Stefanie Lash said the documents had suffered some damage over the years, before being put in the hands of dedicated conservators in the 1950s.

She said there are a number of ways the public will be interested in them - from the science and preservation side, the historical and legal aspects, and people's own links to them.

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