Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon
Category Administration and Management
Type Procedure
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 22 November 2010
Date Procedure Took Effect 31 May 2011
Last approved revision 18 October 2023
Sponsor Registrar and Secretary to the Council
Responsible officer Head Corporate Records Service


This document outlines the University information that is restricted from general access, the reason for the restriction, the period of time the restriction applies, and who will be responsible for making decisions relating to access for those records with restrictions.

This document will enable the University to deliver consistent access decisions that align with other legislative requirements relating to access to information, notably the Official Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 2020.

Organisational scope

This framework applies to all hardcopy and electronic public records created by the University of Otago that have been in existence for 25 years or longer, irrespective of location.


This refers to date of last action on a document, usually the year, such as last date of employment, study or similar.
Data that has been processed into a meaningful form. For the purposes of the University, information is a high-level term that includes data, processed information in all forms and formats.
Information created, received, and maintained as evidence of the activities carried out by the University and which are thereafter retained (for a set period). Records may be in any format including paper-based, electronic, or a hybrid of the two; or in any storage medium including business information systems, email, websites, databases, social media applications and M365 sites.


1. Introduction

  1. Declaring access to public records over 25 years of age as either open or restricted is a compliance requirement under section 43 of the Public Records Act 2005.
  2. Many of the records covered by the restrictions outlined below ought to have been destroyed, under the New Zealand Universities Disposal Authority (DA*), before the restriction period ceases. For example, student health patient files should be destroyed 10 years after the most recent date on the file (if the record has not been discharged to another healthcare provider in that time), but the access restriction on this type of record is recommended for 100 years to protect an individual’s personal privacy.
  3. The restrictions, therefore, are designed to provide the University with a level of control over the release of sensitive information that has been retained in excess of the recommended retention period outlined in the GDA.

*Note that some DA numbers include GDA6 classes which have been incorporated into the Universities DA.

2. Access Restrictions

  1. All Records are regarded as open, except for the following types of records:
    1. R100
      • Records containing personal information of a highly sensitive nature, such as health information, welfare information or criminal information are restricted for 100 years from date of closure to protect individuals’ personal privacy.
      • Reports detailing serious internal instances of fraud, theft, misappropriations or negligence within the University (DA GDA6/7.1; 6/7.1.4).
      • Records covering the vetting of university employees with regard to security clearances, criminal convictions and criminal history (DA 7.11).
      • Student health patient and counselling files, including appointment registers and prescription and drug management (DA 16.9; 16.10).
      • Records relating to the provision and management of support services for students, in particular client files and application forms (DA 16.12; 16.13; 16.14; 16.15).
    2. R70
      • Records containing information of a personal nature relating to individual staff and students, such as detailed employment records, detailed student records including grading and assessment materials and enrolment cards, and records containing personal financial information are restricted for 70 years from date of closure to protect individuals’ personal privacy.
      • Records documenting individual cases relating to grievances, disputes and dismissals (DA 7.5; 7.6).
      • The personnel files, detailed employment histories and information relating to employee performance management of individual staff, including misconduct, injury and disability records (DA GDA6/3.1.1; 6/3.1.2; 6/3.1.3; 7.8; 7.9; 7.10).
      • Summaries of personnel histories from information systems documenting employee details (DA GDA6/3.1.4).
      • Records relating to the administration and management of the performance-based research fund (PBRF) (DA 12.3).
      • Information relating to individual students, including documents supporting the admission and enrolling process such as application forms and enrolment cards; records relating to disciplinary processes involving individual students; and student academic transcripts (DA 15.4; 15.5; 15.18).
      • Records relating to the administration, application and selection of childcare services (DA 16.4; 16.5; 16.6).
    3. R30
      • Records relating to sensitive University facilities, plant and equipment, such as hazardous material location and disposal information, and secure facilities location and access information is restricted for 30 years from date of closure to protect University staff, student and plant security.
      • Records containing sensitive information supplied by students, staff, external agencies, or gathered with an explicit or implicit undertaking of confidence, such as survey forms, ethics discussion and approval documentation, and submissions are restricted for 30 years from date of closure to protect staff and students’ security and maintain existing or assumed confidentiality agreements.
      • Records outlining minor complaints against the University by students, employees or contractors, excluding those records officially registered as an incident or placed on an employee’s file (see R70 above DA 7.6; 7.8; GDA6/3.1.1; GDA6/3.1.3; 3.6; 3.7).
      • Records relating to information requests and complaints to the University under the Privacy Act 2020 (DA 3.15; 3.16).
      • Records relating to the ethical approval process in relation to such areas as human and animal ethics, biosafety and radiation safety (DA 12.5).
      • Records relating to the administration and management of animal research and body bequests and radiation and radioactive materials (DA 12.8; 12.9; 12.10).
    4. R25
      • Records containing confidential information, such as closed or in confidence Council or committee minutes, confidential reports or papers or sensitive reporting or governance information are restricted for 25 years from date of closure to protect the integrity of governance and administrative processes.
      • Records containing information on, or relating to, the commercialisation of intellectual property, for 25 years from date of closure to protect the University’s commercial interests.
      • Records relating to, or containing, legal opinions and advice are restricted for 25 years from date of closure to protect legal professional privilege.
      • Records containing commercial in confidence information, including due diligence reports, business planning for commercial activities or ‘commercial in confidence’ material are restricted for 25 years from date of closure to protect commercial interests.
      • Confidential submissions that have been provided on the agreement that the written submission will be destroyed once the report is written (DA 1.18).
      • Board minutes, board committee minutes, and the agendas, minutes, reports and decisions of major committees and working parties that reflect the University’s core functions (DA 5.7; 5.17).
      • Records relating to the negotiation, development and facilitation of contracts, including contractor and supplier information, negotiation documents and contractual agreements (DA 9.4).
      • Records relating to legal action directly involving the University that are not held in the court or with other judicial bodies, including legal advice, legal opinions, reports and summaries, and records outlining negotiations, briefings, and settlements (DA 9.6; 9.7).
      • Records relating to the management and use of intellectual property by the University including the registration of patents, copyright, ownership, contracts, licensing and other agreements (DA 12.6; 12.7).

3. Access to University Holdings

  1. Once a Record has reached 25 years of age, or when a record has been transferred to the University’s approved archives repository, the Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, that Record will usually become open and members of the public can inspect the Record. However, the University can impose conditions on access to a Record and this document acknowledges that, for a limited period, some types of public information created by the University should be restricted from general access.
  2. Access to any restricted public record over 25 years of age held at the University requires the permission of the Registrar and Secretary to the Council. Requests for access to restricted Records should be addressed to:

    The Registrar and Secretary to the Council
    Office of the Vice-Chancellor
    PO Box 56
    Dunedin 9054

4. Access to University Archives (Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena)

  1. Access to University Records located at the Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena that carry a restriction period of between 30 and 100 years will be determined by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council, who will then notify the Hocken Librarian of the decision. Note that the initial query could have been generated from the Hocken as they can also receive direct requests to access University Records.
  2. Access to University Records located at the Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena that carry a restriction period of less than 30 years and/or relate to a current member of staff or student requires the written permission of the Registrar and Secretary to the Council.
  3. Access to the personal papers and teaching and research materials of University staff, while not considered University Records and not covered under the Public Records Act 2005, may be subject to the above restrictions at the discretion of the Hocken Librarian if they are found to contain confidential information relating to the administration of the University.

5. Quick View Table

Restriction period Location of records Access Authority GDA classes
R100 Both Hocken Collections and University records yet to be transferred Registrar GDA6/7.1.3, GDA6/7.1.4; 7.11; 16.9; 16.10; 16.12; 16.13; 16.14; 16.15
R70 Both Hocken Collections and University records not yet transferred Registrar GDA6/3.1.1; GDA6/3/1/2; GDA6/3.1.3; GDA6/3.1.4; 7.5; 7.6; 7.8; 7.9; 7.10; 12.3; 15.4; 15.5; 15.18; 16.4; 16.5; 16.6
R30 Both Hocken Collections and University yet to be transferred Registrar GDA6/3.1.1; GDA6/3.1.2; GDA6/3.1.3; 3.6; 3.7; 3.15; 3.16; 7.6; 7.8; 12.5; 12.8; 12.9; 12.10
R25 Both Hocken Collections and University yet to be transferred Registrar 1.18; 5.7; 5.17; 9.4; 9.6; 9.7; 12.6; 12.7
Relating to an existing staff member or student Both Hocken Collections and University yet to be transferred Registrar  

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for Further Information

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

Head Corporate Records Service
Operations Division

Back to top