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MFAT releases files from its archives

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has publicly released more than 100 previously classified files from its archives.

The release is a part of a joint initiative between the MFAT and the National Archives.

In a statement, MFAT’s said making the files available to the public was part of its continuing program of reviewing and releasing classified material. 

“This is the first release under the updated declassification program, with subsequent regular releases to follow from next year,” the statement said.

The 144 files include records created by the MFAT’s head office in Wellington, as well as by a variety of New Zealand overseas posts in London, Canberra, New York, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Lima, Ottawa, Singapore, Suva, Vienna and Tokyo.

They tell the stories of New Zealand’s diplomats abroad, how they represented New Zealanders’ interests, and charts the development of the country’s independent foreign policy voice.

The files released date from 1919 to the 1980s and cover a wide range of topics.

These included events leading up to the 1981 Springbok tour, and New Zealand Government and Commonwealth perspectives on sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa, and efforts to transport a Chilean trade unionist to safety, who was high on a most wanted list during the coup d’état in that country.

Also covered are observations and logistics planning related to visits by foreign Governors General and Prime Ministers from the 1950s to the 1980s; East Timor political affairs from the 1940s to 1980s and the Treaty of Versailles, 1919-1930s (pictured).