Gathering up the crown jewels

Diamonds in the rough

Early in 2011 I was browsing through issuu, a digital publishing platform, and I came across The crown jewels: the pulse of hip hop dance , a hip hop dance magazine. As I browsed the issues, I realised that it was a short-lived online magazine from Auckland, lasting just four issues during 2010 before becoming defunct.

For a locally produced magazine with a young editor I was really impressed with how polished the magazine appeared, especially the quality of the images and the breadth of the articles. Although it focused on New Zealand, there were reports on the hip hop dance scenes in South Africa, the Philippines, and the UK. It also has some wonderful photos of graffiti around Auckland, and shots of dance crews in action.

Dancers at Hip Hop Nation 2010, from The crown jewels issue 3Dancers at Hip Hop Nation 2010, from The crown jewels issue 3.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find this digital magazine as hip hop is a big deal here in Aotearoa, and New Zealand dance crews have had substantial success in international competitions like the Hip Hop International.

From their desktop publishing software to your eye

This publication also reflects a bigger trend of information democratisation, and how easy it is to publish digitally when compared to print. After finding The crown jewels I did a thorough search of issuu and found over 100 publications that could be confidently identified as being from New Zealand.

The relative ease of digital publishing has made the magazine industry – and magazine/zine culture – more diverse and more open. People who may not have had the ability, access, or opportunities to create their publications in print are able to push their work out online.

It’s easier on the reading end too – distribution is easier and cheaper, getting the publication into more hands, including those who might not have picked up a print version. I’m not exactly a dance aficionado, but I was browsing the pages of The crown jewels like I was an old hand.

And we want it all

As great as this explosion of digital publishing is (and it really is), the lack of institutional knowledge means that a lot of these creators aren’t aware of things like Legal Deposit.

Here in the Legal Deposit Office we have the responsibility of collecting everything that is published in New Zealand to help preserve our published documentary heritage. In response to the huge amounts of digital publications, Electronic Legal Deposit was created in 2006. This had the effect of massively expanding our collection mandate, including digital publications alongside the print material we’ve been collecting since 1903.

Showing the world as it is

In addition to static digital items – text and images – we can now also add videos from sites like YouTube to the NDHA. As we find more material, and have it submitted to us, we can round out publications like The crown jewels with hip hop dance videos, and more.

Doing the dolphin Manners Mall, Wellington, 1984 Doing the dolphin Manners Mall, Wellington, 1984. Ref: EP/1984/0163/31-F

Thanks to Electronic Legal Deposit our collections can better reflect these changes in publishing and society at large. If you have an electronic publication that the library doesn’t know about, please email us at or have a go at submitting it yourself with our Web Deposit Tool.

By Andrew Henry

Andrew is a Collection Management Librarian in the mornings and an Electronic Publications Librarian in the afternoons.

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Will January 23rd at 1:24PM

Great article, I hope to hear more from this author

Anthony February 6th at 2:53AM

Nice work Andrew, there must be so much content to get through in the electronic age.