Feature Image: Our Leadership Group

Our leadership group

Meet the people leading the National Library. Our leadership team includes Te Pouhuaki National Librarian, Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library and other senior roles.

Te Pouhuaki National Librarian — Rachel Esson

Appointed Te Pouhuaki National Librarian on 17 December 2020, Rachel Esson is responsible for leading all National Library services in New Zealand. She also contributes to the leadership of the Information and Knowledge Services branch of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Previously Director Content Services of the National Library, Rachel is a professionally registered librarian who has held senior and strategic roles in academic and research libraries for many years. She has researched and published in the area of evaluation of library services.

Her previous roles have included Associate Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library, Associate Director Library Academic Services at Victoria University, and Medical Librarian (University of Otago, Wellington).

She is a fellow of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and is actively involved with association governance.

About the title Te Pouhuaki

In August 2020, the title Te Pouhuaki o Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa was gifted by Komiti Māori for the use of successive National Librarians.

The Komiti Māori has in its Terms of Reference the following pepeha:

Kōkiri, kōkiri, kōkiri!
Whakarongo ake au ki ngā reo o te motu
E karanga mai ana
Huakina mai ngā tatau o tō whare
Kia Mahi Tahi tātou, kia inu ai mātou
I Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa

The message from the people clearly asks us to open our doors so that we may work together and share the information held in Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa

The kupu have a Puna Mātauranga whakapapa as they were presented by Bella Tarawhiti, Kaitiaki aroha o te Puna Mātauranga some years ago. More recently a tune has been added so that it is now practised and used as an anthem waiata among Puna Mātauranga staff.

The title Te Poukuaki is a unique and original compound word that illuminates the role of the National Librarian as follows:

Huaki — to open, uncover, reveal, present, display, unveil
Pou — post, symbol of support, someone who strongly supports a cause, expert, esteemed leader that echos the pou o te whare Māori where stories are captured, stored and shared.

Pouhuaki — an expert librarian and information manager who stands as mentor and stalwart to protect, preserve and share the nation's storied memories for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.

Komiti Māori

Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library — Chris Szekely

Chris Szekely has held the statutory role of Chief Librarian since 2007. He is responsible for ensuring that the collections of the Turnbull are preserved, protected, developed and made accessible.

Previously, Chris was City Librarian of Manukau Libraries in South Auckland, and he is a founding and life member of Te Rōpū Whakahau, an association for Māori working in libraries and information management.

He was an inaugural Commissioner on the Library and Information Advisory Commission in 2003 and is a Fellow of the Library & Information Association New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). His professional interests include services to Maori and New Zealand children's literature.

Chris sees the future of the Turnbull as an institution that continues to be a trusted repository for New Zealand's documentary heritage, with reading rooms and facilities that are welcoming and relevant, and people who are expert and knowledgeable. He is excited by the opportunities for enhancing the use of collections through digital delivery.

Director Content Services (Acting) — Steve Knight

Steve oversees the strategy and operational activities of Content Services, which collects and describes the National Library’s collections, and provides services to libraries, publishers, and authors.

From a library background, Steve has experience in a range of information management disciplines, including records and document management, and the design and implementation of electronic services. He has a particular interest in the development of digital libraries and digital preservation practice.

Steve was the business lead for the Library’s National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA) project, a flagship programme designed to ensure the long-term storage, preservation, and access to New Zealand's digital cultural heritage.

Steve has represented the National Library on the National Digital Forum Board. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the International Internet Preservation Consortium and has been a reviewer for various European Commission projects related to digital libraries and digital preservation.

Director Digital Experience — Fiona Fieldsend

Fiona leads the talented Digital New Zealand teams who run and develop National Library of New Zealand’s digital discovery services. These services include the National Library website, Papers Past, digitalnz.org, our onsite discovery experiences and the award winning open source data aggregation tool, Supplejack.

Fiona co-founded DigitalNZ.org back in 2008 and was instrumental in bringing together over 200 content partners from across and beyond the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector to make New Zealand content easier to find, share and use. Collaborating to make things better for New Zealanders has been an important theme in her career. Prior to working at DigitalNZ she helped set up and manage EPIC, the national purchasing consortium that enables more affordable access to quality electronic resources in libraries.

Fiona has a wealth of knowledge and experience in digital collections, open licensing and rights, metadata, software development, and collaborative leadership. She advocates for user-centred research and design with a focus on how digital discovery platforms need to function, be protected, maintained, and continuously improved to best meet the needs of people.

Director Literacy and Learning — Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth leads the Services to Schools teams, developing nationwide services that engage, motivate and inspire young people, educators and communities to enjoy reading and to support their development as digitally literate learners.  

Services to Schools work closely with learning communities nationwide to develop national approaches to reading engagement, modern library learning environments and digital literacy services.

Director Office of the National Librarian — Helen Jamison

Helen manages a small team in the Office of the National Librarian that is responsible for the National Library's strategic, financial and business planning processes, providing secretariat support for the National Library’s statutory bodies, and assisting the National Librarian to meet her statutory responsibilities.

Director Public Engagement — Tui Te Hau

Tui leads the public engagement, fundraising, operational and commercial activities of the National Library. At the heart of this work is connecting the knowledge and taonga held within the National Library with communities and visitors.

Tui has built complex national innovation programmes from scratch, including Mahuki: the world’s first business accelerator for the culture sector (located within Te Papa). She has also been a former New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Melbourne, General Manager of a leading creative digital agency, and Chief Executive of Creative HQ.

Tui also led the Maori Enterprise Team of Trade NZ (now NZ Trade and Enterprise). A scholarship recipient for the 2017 Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme and a finalist in the Government category of the Wellingtonian of the year awards 2017, Tui is passionate about creative entrepreneurship and innovation.

Programme Director Documentary Heritage — Mark Crookston

Mark represents the National Library’s interests in the Tāhuhu programme and also holds the National Library’s leadership role across the documentary heritage sector in Aotearoa.

Mark’s role has two main responsibilities. The first is to lead the Library’s design requirements for the Tāhuhu Programme, which is a multi-year programme upgrading and expanding the physical infrastructure, and storage capacity for the National Library, Archives New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, as well as creating great co-located public services for documentary heritage.

The second part of the role is to collaborate with colleagues across the documentary heritage sector, both inside and outside of government, nationally and internationally to support the National Librarian’s mandate to work collaboratively with other institutions with similar purpose the National Library.

Mark loves working with documentary heritage and has a passion for developing sustainable collaborations and utilising humane technologies that support societal memory, people’s rights, accountability, and scholarship. Mark has worked in a number of archives and documentary heritage roles and projects throughout New Zealand, the U.K., and the Pacific and is an active member of the New Zealand and international archival community.

More about the Tāhuhu programme

Programme Establishment Director — Lewis Brown

Lewis manages a programme team working to establish the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme (NZLPP). The programme is supporting job retention and upskilling of librarians to support community recovery, delivery of free public internet through all public libraries, relief from user charges for collaborative library services, and an uplift for National Library’s services to schools and young people with the greatest need.

Lewis joined the Library in 2006 to help lead the development and writing of the New Zealand Digital Content Strategy, and has since worked in a variety of roles spanning policy analysis, strategy and governance support and planning. For a period he worked with Digital New Zealand.

Previously Lewis has had a wide range of experience in government operational and business planning roles.