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Archaeologists Unveil New Zealand Digital Resource

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An online digital resource that records archaeological sites in New Zealand called ArchSite (www.ArchSite.org.nz) will be officially launched on Wednesday 10 June at the New Zealand Archaeological Association's (NZAA) annual conference in Wellington. In 2007 the Department of Internal Affairs contributed funding to the NZAA to develop the Site Recording Scheme (SRS) into an online resource, with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) and Department of Conservation providing support as project partners. The SRS - the largest non-government archaeological site recording scheme in the world - has been active for 51 years and currently holds 61,000 paper records on this country's archaeological sites. NZAA president and NZHPT archaeologist Dr Matthew Schmidt said having the online service will make it much easier for members of the public, archaeologists and organisations to access information.

"The public will be able to access archaeological data and use it for a range of things - for example, site management, education on our early history and appreciating Maori, Pakeha and Chinese heritage.

"The launch night will mark the time when subscribers to the full online SRS service can access information. Basic information on New Zealand archaeological sites will also be able to be accessed by the public for free."

The SRS has become crucial in supporting the archaeological provisions of the Historic Places Act 1993 and the protection of artefacts under the Protected Objects Act 1975. The online service will provide 'feature streaming' so archaeological site data can be directly fed into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In addition, an interactive web service will enable recorded archaeological sites to be viewed against a geographic map of New Zealand and allow information layers, such as topographic maps, survey information and legal descriptions for properties, to be displayed.

"We're pretty much at the halfway mark of this project. It has taken 18 months of hard work to develop and build the system and over the next 18 months the NZAA will continue to add, refine and check digitised data," Dr Schmidt said.

"The Site Recording Scheme was originally a special interest database but is now used, particularly by local authorities, in planning and legal issues for site identification, protection and management."

The NZAA is an independent, non-profit voluntary association made up of professional and amateur member archaeologists. It was founded in 1956 and in 1958 it established the NZAA Site Recording Scheme - a paper-based system containing field notes, plans, photographs and drawings of archaeological sites throughout New Zealand and from the off-shore islands. The NZAA's annual conference runs in Wellington from 10-14 June, with its theme this year being Archaeology in the Digital Age.

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