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Records Management Policy

Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice Chancellor, May 2011
Date Policy Took Effect 31 May 2011
Last approved revision 31 July 2015
Sponsor Registrar and Secretary to the Council
Responsible officer Corporate Records Manager


The Records Management policy establishes a framework for the implementation of the University's records management programme and ensures that full and accurate records of the University's activities are created, captured, maintained, made accessible, stored and legally disposed of in accordance with legislative requirements. The Records Management policy also outlines the responsibilities of staff in support of these requirements.

Organisational scope

This policy applies to all University of Otago staff and all staff in controlled entities of the University of Otago, including persons contracted to the University either directly or in partnership with it. 

This policy applies to all records owned by the University which fall under the coverage of the Public Records Act (PRA) 2005, regardless of format and media.


The final decision concerning the fate of records, i.e. their destruction or transfer to archives.
Document Management
The process of storing, locating, updating and sharing documents in a work-group environment.
Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS)
A type of content management system that combines document management and records management in an integrated system.
Electronic Records
are records that require the use of a computer for creation, access and use. This can include emails, databases, websites, audiovisual files, images and records migrated or transformed into digital formats.
Refers to the New Zealand Universities General Disposal Authority. This document sets out the retention periods and disposal actions for those records that are common to all New Zealand universities. This document is the University of Otago's legal authority to retain, dispose of, or transfer its records.
The University of Otago’s custom Electronic Document and Records Management System.
Public Records
Defined as records that are created or received by a public office in the conduct of its affairs. (N.B. this does not mean records that are available for public inspection, but rather records created in the course of a public office's normal business practice.) The following types of records are not considered to be public records:
  1. Teaching materials of staff used to deliver a lecture or other presentation;
  2. Research materials generated by staff and students including, but not exclusively, raw data, analysed data, working notes and publications;
  3. Material generated by subsidiary companies where the University holds or controls 50 per cent or less of the company.
All those documents which facilitate the activities carried out by the University and which are thereafter retained (for a set period) to provide evidence of its transactions and activities. These records may be created, received or maintained in hard copy, electronically or a hybrid of the two. They include, but are not limited to, emails, documents, spreadsheets, letters, photographs, images, sound, plans and signatures.
Records Management
The field of management which utilises an administrative system to direct and control the creation, distribution, filing, retention, storage and disposal of records.
Systems are business information systems which include amongst their functions the capability to capture, maintain and provide access to records.


1. Records management programme

  1. The University is required to establish a records management programme that complies with the requirements of the Public Records Act 2005 and the mandatory standard(s) issued under it.
  2. The Records Management Programme is the management framework, which includes the people, and the recordkeeping and/or information systems required to manage and maintain full, authentic, accurate and accessible records over time. The University of Otago will ensure that all staff comply with the University's approved recordkeeping framework and will provide training and guidance in support of this.
  3. The Records Management Programme delivers the following key benefits to the organisation:
    1. Cost savings and efficiency in terms of significantly reducing duplication of effort and the time staff spend looking for information.
    2. Effective management in ensuring awareness of and access to the University's records.
    3. Accountability by ensuring that records which document important activity are safely retained for an appropriate length of time.
    4. Preserving the institution's corporate memory by enabling records of enduring cultural and historical value to be identified, captured, and transferred to the possession of an approved repository at the end of their life cycle.

2. Recordkeeping systems

  1. The University shall employ a variety of appropriate recordkeeping systems to meet legislative requirements and the responsibilities detailed in clauses 3 and 4 of this Policy below.
  2. OURDrive, the University’s EDRMS, shall be the University’s primary system for managing most public records (that is those that are not managed in a line-of-business system, and that are not low level administrative or housekeeping records).

3. University responsibilities

  1. The University of Otago will create full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal prudent business practice. This shall include records of any matters contracted out to independent parties, from whom the University will require any relevant documentation so as to ensure proper record keeping.
  2. The University of Otago will maintain, in an accessible form, so as to be able to be used for subsequent reference, all records that are in its control, until their disposal is authorised by or under the Public Records Act or required by or under another Act.
  3. The University of Otago will not dispose of, or authorise the disposal of, records or protected records except with the authority of the Chief Archivist, given in accordance with the provisions of the Public Records Act. The General Disposal Authority for all New Zealand Universities is the University of Otago's written authority to legally dispose of its records.
  4. The University of Otago will transfer from its possession and control any records that have been in existence for 25 years and that are no longer in current use to the possession of the Hocken Library and the control of the Chief Archivist.
  5. The University of Otago will store its records in conditions which will ensure that they are preserved for as long as they are required, and are protected so as to prevent damage, loss, theft, vandalism, misuse or inadvertent release through the use of appropriate packaging, shelving, equipment and a secure environment.

4. Staff responsibilities

  1. The Vice-Chancellor, as the person responsible for the performance of the University of Otago, has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the University complies with the legislative requirements for recordkeeping.
  2. Academic and Service Division Directors, Deans and Departmental Heads are responsible for supporting and monitoring their staff in terms of compliance and ensuring where appropriate that:
    1. Resources (time and people) are provided in support of this.
    2. Appropriate storage provisions are made in support of this.
    3. Records management expectations are included in job descriptions and performance reviews.
    4. Staff who report to them are creating and maintaining records in a manner consistent with relevant standards, policies and procedures.
  3. Each Faculty, Department, School, Centre or Service Division is expected to:
    1. Manage its records in accordance with University requirements.
    2. Nominate a records officer or records officers as appropriate for their area who will undergo regular training and be the primary contact for the Corporate Records Service.
    3. Ensure the following recordkeeping principles are applied:
      • Records in their areas are stored appropriately.
      • That no records are destroyed or removed unless permitted by the University GDA, and that this destruction is carried out in a manner consistent with the University’s Records Destruction Guidelines.
      • Records of a confidential nature are protected from unauthorised access.
      • Access to and distribution of records is consistent with the University’s Access Framework.
      • Records of permanent value are identified and appropriately managed.
  4. The Head of Corporate Records Services is responsible for:
    1. Providing advice, guidance and training on recordkeeping practices, policies, procedures and systems.
    2. Maintaining communication and awareness with University staff on all matters relating to records management, and promoting compliance.
    3. Developing, publishing and making available to staff procedural documents on recordkeeping practices.
    4. Assisting with the development of University recordkeeping systems as appropriate.
    5. Monitoring recordkeeping processes, procedures and systems as required.
  5. Information Technology (IT/ICT) staff are responsible for maintaining the technology used to support systems that capture and retain records electronically. This includes ensuring the records are accessible and appropriately secured.
  6. All University staff have a responsibility to create, maintain and store full and accurate records of activities, transactions, and decisions carried out during the course of daily activity, and to comply with the University's policy.

Appendix – legal compliance

The following legislation (accessible at is relevant to the Records Management Policy and to recordkeeping activities at the University of Otago.

Financial legislation

  • Financial Reporting Act 1993 defines the standards to be used in preparing financial reports and obligations in respect of the preparation and audit of financial statements. See also Public Finance Act 1989 for relevant sections.
  • Goods and Services Tax Act 1985 includes requirements for the keeping of records to support the administration of the Goods and Services Tax system (s 75) and their retention for a period of at least seven years after the end of the taxable period to which they relate.
  • Income Tax Act 1994 includes requirements to furnish records to support specific rebates or deductions, such as those for demonstrating the business use of motor vehicles (sDH2 – 3).
  • Tax Administration Act 1994 requires taxpayers and employers to keep records in relation to business matters for tax purposes. Such records are to be retained for at least seven years after the end of the income year to which they relate (s22 (2)). Other recordkeeping provisions include the Inland Revenue Commissioner's powers to obtain information, the furnishing of tax returns, and the secrecy of information provided in relation to tax matters.

Privacy legislation

  • Privacy Act 2020 establishes a set of privacy principles to ensure the protection of personal privacy in respect of both public and private sector organisations. The Act is of prime importance and should be clearly understood by all information management professionals.

Employment Legislation

  • Employment Contracts Act 1991 contains recordkeeping requirements for redundancy of employment records (s47). Wages and time records for any period in the preceding six years must be available for the employee. There is also a requirement to retain records of any strikes and lockouts (s142)
  • Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires employers to maintain a register of accidents and serious harm.

Commercial legislation

  • Companies Act 1993 includes provisions requiring the maintenance of a share register (s87-94), company records (s189-191), accounting records (s194), and audit and reporting obligations. It allows the inspection of company records (s178-179 and s215-218). Other provisions include the registration of companies with the Registrar of Companies.

Public sector legislation

  • Public Records Act 2005 provides for the selection of public records and archives for creation, maintenance and retention; directs that public records and archives may only be destroyed or disposed of with the authority of the Chief Archivist. Provides for the deposit of public archives with the Archives of New Zealand and describes conditions for the management of material so deposited; and sets out the powers of the Chief Archivist in respect of current public records.
  • Official Information Act 1982 provides for access to official information, except where specific reasons for withholding it exist, such as national security or the protection of personal privacy.
  • Ombudsmen Act 1975 contains requirements for documenting complaints and the supply of written evidence to support complaints; specifies access restrictions on a complaint or supplied evidence, and on publication of any summary report resulting from a complaint; and allows the Ombudsman to review complaints, records and decision-making processes and procedures.
  • Public Finance Act 1989 covers the reporting requirements of the Crown, Government Departments and Crown Entities, including requirements for Audit Office issuing of Audit Opinions.

Intellectual property legislation

  • Copyright Act 1994 contains references to the requirements for documenting copyright in original works, transferring copyright and licensing for use/copying. It also includes documentation requirements for hearings of the Copyright Tribunal. Copyright Regulations also apply.
  • Designs Act 1953 contains recordkeeping requirements for all documents associated with the creation and registration of a design with the Patents Office. It also includes specific requirements regarding the creation and accessibility of the Register of Designs. Designs Regulations also apply.
  • Patents Act 1953 contains recordkeeping requirements for all documents associated with the application for and certification of New Zealand patents. It also includes specific requirements regarding the creation and accessibility of the Register of Patents. Patents Regulations also apply.
  • Trade Marks Act 1953 covers recordkeeping requirements for all documents relating to the application for and certification of New Zealand registered trademarks. It also includes specific requirements regarding the creation and accessibility of the Register of Trademarks. Trade Marks Regulations also apply.

Education sector legislation

  • Education and Training Act 2020 covers recordkeeping requirements for all documents relating to the creation of annual reports, minutes and other statutory council and board records.

Health-related legislation

  • Health Act 1956 and amendments addresses the legal implications and requirements for the use and transfer of patient records.
  • Health (Retention of Health Information) Regulations 1996 addresses outlines the legal requirements for the retention of patient records by PHOs, private hospitals and doctors in private practice.
  • Health Information Privacy Code 1994 outlines the requirements for storage of patient records and also provides for the non-release of information to patients in certain circumstances.
  • Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights addresses the requirements for recordkeeping relating to the rights of patients cared for under the provisions of the Health and Disability acts.
  • General Disposal Authority for District Health Boards provides best practice for the retention and disposal of patient records.

Other legislation

  • Animal Welfare (Records and Statistics) Regulations 1999 addresses the requirements for readily accessible records to be kept by code holders.
  • Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 (part 4) confirms the legal effect of information in electronic form and delivered by electronic means, and addresses how paper-based legal requirements may be met by using electronic technology that is functionally equivalent to those legal requirements.
  • Evidence Act 1908, Evidence Amendment Act 1948 and Evidence Amendment Act 1980 and amendments govern the admissibility of documents and records in Courts.
  • National Library of New Zealand Act 2003 provides for the deposit of published documents by Crown Entities and other State owned or funded enterprises. The act requires that identical copies of the published document be provided.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Legislation and standards





Code of Conduct

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Head of Department, Corporate Records Services