Detail from: `Wireless Station, Ocean Island.' WPHC 4/IV 1934/1693 Vol.1.
It is often only with everyday use that archival collections reveal their potential - and the hurdles they throw up for researchers. Our largest and most important archive, the Western Pacific Archives (WPA), is no exception, and as a result Special Collections has now published the Guide to the Western Pacific Archives, written by Special Collections Manager, Stephen Innes.
This large and complex collection is divided into three sub-collections, with a total of 87 separate finding aids providing access to the series and files that researchers need. The Guide provides an overview of the collection, detailing the history of the Western Pacific High Commission and its constituent bodies, and providing guidelines on accessing the collection, searching for material, interpreting the finding aids, and ordering material.
The Western Pacific Archives (WPA) contains the records of the British colonial administration in the Western Pacific from 1877-1978. Spanning more than 760 linear metres (about 2,800 archive boxes), the WPA was transferred to Special Collections at The University of Auckland Library in 2002 from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The WPA offers great research opportunities for historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and researchers in many other fields. Recent research and publications which have drawn on the WPA include:
- The history of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony
- The interface between native medical practitioners and the colonial administration
- German migrants in Tonga
- The legal status of indigenous peoples
- Numerous family history projects.
The Guide is a work in progress, and will be updated in the future with additional background on the administration of the WPHC, and the progress of finding aids and indexing activities.
Great Britain. High Commission for Western Pacific islands. Western Pacific archives. MSS & Archives 2003/1. Special Collections, The University of Auckland Library.