Records must be compliant with the NZ regulatory and accountability environment. In effect most NZ legislation has implications for the keeping of records in the general course of business. Some Acts specify that certain records must be brought into existence and retained for specified periods. Others specify the form or other matters related to the keeping of records.

Where records may need to be produced in court, they must be captured and maintained in a form that meets the legal requirements of reliable evidence. This is particularly relevant to electronic records and records captured into a document imaging system.

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Please note: Although every care has been taken with the preparation of this material, it is not an exhaustive list my any means. If you would like to submit new or updated information for this page regarding these Acts or any other New Zealand legislation with a recordkeeping implication please contact the ARANZ Webmaster. Thanks to Pauline Porteous who donated the document that forms the basis of this resource page.

Companies Act 1993

This Act provides for the retention and the form of records (Refer to sections 189 -191, 194 –195 and 215 - 218). (The 1994 Companies Act 1993 Amendment, no 6. section 22 changes the record retention period from 10 years to 7 yrs.)

Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017

Electronic Transactions Act 2002 was repealed and replaced with this Act.

Financial Reporting Act 1993

This Act defines the standards to be used in preparing financial reports and obligations in respect of the preparation and audit of financial statements. Sections 8 and 9 require that financial statements must include a profit and loss statement, balance date and notes. Sections 10 and 13 outline obligations to prepare dated and signed financial statements within 5 months of the balance date.

Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996

This Act includes requirements for financial institutions to retain transaction records for at least five years (refer to section 29), to retain verification records for at least five years (refer to section 30), and any other records prescribed by regulation. Also gives provisions relating to the manner of retention, time of destruction and obligations for reporting of suspicious transactions.

Goods and Services Tax Act 1985

This Act includes requirements for the keeping of records to support the administration of the Goods and Services Tax system (refer to section 75) and their retention for a period of at least seven years after the end of the taxable period to which they relate. Section 75 provides for the keeping of records. (The Goods and Services Tax Amendment Act (no 2) 1992 reduced the retention of records subject to this Act from 10 to 7 years.)

Income Tax Act 2007

This Act includes requirements to furnish records to support specific rebates or deductions, such as those for demonstrating the business use of motor vehicles.

Public Audit Act 2001

The Act provides for the access to records for the provision of the audit role.

Public Finance Act 1989

The Public Finance Act sets requirements for Crown Agencies in terms of financial reporting & accountability.

Reserve Bank Act 1989

This Act provides for the registration and reporting requirements of banks to the Reserve Bank. The Act also protects records of banks and section 151 states that it is an offence to destroy, alter or conceal records.

Securities Act 1978

This Act requires that proper accounting records are kept and retained for 7 years. (Refer to section 53).

Tax Administration Act 1994

This Act requires taxpayers and employers to keep certain records for tax purposes. Part III contains various recordkeeping provisions. Section 22 describes the types of business records that need to be retained as tax records for 7 years after the end of the income year to which they relate. Section 23 requires taxpayers to retain electronic returns as a signed hard copy. Section 36 states that the Commissioner (Of Inland Revenue) may approve furnishing of return information by electronic means. Section 24 covers the recordkeeping requirements for employer’s tax records. Other recordkeeping provisions in Part III include the Commissioner's powers to obtain information, the furnishing of tax returns, and the secrecy of tax related information.

Employment Relations Act 2000

This Act contains a of number recordkeeping retention requirements. Sections 130 and 132 require employees wage (and other money payable) records to be kept for 6 years. Section 130 requires that wages and time records are to be available for the preceding 6 years. There is also a requirement to retain records of any strikes and lockouts (Refer to section 98).

Health Monitoring under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016

How long must Health Monitoring records be kept? Asbestos testing records must be kept for 40 years, and all other employee testing 30 years. See Worksafe link here.

Holidays Act 2003

This act sets a number of record keeping requirements for staff records. Section 81requires that every employer keep a holiday and leave record containing information for each employee including the name of the employee; date on which the employee's employment commenced or terminated; the days on which the employee works; the employee's current entitlements to annual holidays etc. This holiday and leave record must be kept in written form, or in a form which can be easily accessed and converted into written form, if required.

Section 82 outlines who may access the holiday and leave record and section 83 outlines penalties if an accurate holiday and leave record is not maintained.

Minimum Wage Act 1983

This Act contains recordkeeping retention requirements. Section 8A requires employers to keep wage and time records as stipulated and that the records need to be retained and available for inspection for the preceding 6 years.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995

The BDM Act regulates the recording of live events for New Zealanders & sets registration recordkeeping rules.

Building Act 2004

Section 216 of this Act allows for local authorities to keep building plans and other relevant information in respect of a building. The Building Act requires records to be kept for the life of the building. Section 217 relates to access conditions for this information.

Citizenship Act 1977

The Citizenship Act sets general provisions as to certificates and other documents of citizenship.

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2004

This Act provides consumer protection and requires disclosure of terms of credit contract and cost of credit- prohibits misleading advertising and the inclusion of certain punitive terms in contracts.

Education Act 1989

This Act contains various sections relevant to the documentary responsibilities of Schools. In particular sections 120-139 denote the requirements with regard to Teacher Registration & Teaching certificates.

Evidence Act 2006

This Act governs the legal admissibility of documents and affects the form of the record retained.

Fire Service Act 1975

The records of Urban Authorities fall under the definition of 'public records' in the Archives Act 1957. s5(13) allows that the records of every Urban Authority shall be transferred to and invested in the Commission: Provided that where the records form an integral part of the records of a territorial authority, the records shall not be so transferred and vested, but the Commission shall, on request, be entitled to a certified copy of all or any part of such records as relate to the Urban Fire Authority. A notice later published in Fire Service Gazette stated that Fire Board records of permanent brigades should either be held by a Territorial [Local] Authority or transferred to National Archives.

Land Transfer Act 2017

Limitation Act 1950

This Act establishes time limits within which certain types of civil actions may be brought and therefore effects how long records are kept. Generally, an action cannot be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued. (The exception is contracts under seal which is 12 years). There may be instances where the 6 year expiry period does not begin until the person actually discovered a mistake or fraud and it has been deliberately covered up.

Local Government Act 2002

Demotes the reporting & accountability requirements encumbent upon local Government entities.

New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000

Clause 49 of Schedule 3 provides for regulations to be made for information to be subject to the Archives Act. This is facilitated by section 92(1)(j) of the Act under which regulations may be made ‘providing for any other matters contemplated by this Act or necessary for its administration or necessary for giving it full effect’. The intention of the regulations is that the DHB will be bound by the Archives Act, except for patient information.

Official Information Act 1982

The OIA Act provides for public access to official information & the special circumstances under which access may be declined. The latest annual report of the Ombudsmen considers whether deleted e-mails are documents for the purposes of the OIA. It states:"To the extent that a deleted e-mail can be retrieved, the information is "held" for the purposes of the Official Information Act…" The report does note, however, that the ease of retrieval from backup computer systems is a different issue. See also

Property Law Act 2007

Privacy Act 1993

This Act establishes a set of privacy principles to protect personal privacy for both public and private sector organisations. Principle 10 requires an agency that holds personal information shall not keep that information for longer than is required for the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used.

Protected Disclosures Act 2000

This Act protects disclosures within an organisation if made to the appropriate management, or outside an organisation (if the management is involved in the wrong doing) to an appropriate government agency or even the relevant Minister.

Public Records Act 2005

The Act introduces a new recordkeeping framework, and focuses on supporting good government recordkeeping, in addition to the current emphasis on the disposal of records. Good recordkeeping is simply good management practice and is an essential part of efficient government, as it supports day-to-day operations as well as legal and administrative requirements.

A number of acts allow agencies to obtain records:

  • Police - power to search and seize records under warrant
  • Serious Fraud Office - power to search and requisition records (s12 Serious Fraud Office Act 1990)
  • NZ Customs Service - power to search and requisition records (Customs and Excise Act 1996)
  • Department of Inland Revenue - power to search, in search and requisition records (Tax Administration Act 1994)
  • Commerce Commission in context of inquiries under Commerce Act 1986 and Fair Trading Act 1986 powers to search and seize records under warrant and to requisition directors or employees of companies to supply information on notice (ss 98-99 Commerce Act 1986 and sections 47 and 47A Fair Trading Act 1986
  • Securities Commission - power to summon witnesses to produce documents and records in their possession or control in any enquiry (s18 Securities Act 1978)
  • Commission of Inquiry - power to summon witnesses to produce documents and records for the purpose of and enquiry (s4D Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908)