Books on a bookshelf. Two copies of most titles.

What’s legal deposit?

Find out about what legal deposit is, who it applies to and how the Library preserves and makes available deposited items.

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that New Zealand published materials are deposited with the National Library of New Zealand.

Legal deposit ensures that a comprehensive collection of published material relating to New Zealand and its people is preserved for the community and for future generations.

The legal deposit obligation in the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 has enabled the National Library of New Zealand to collect and care for New Zealand publications.

The extent and priorities for the legal deposit work are set out in our Collecting plan – New Zealand and Pacific Published Collections.

Definitions of publisher and New Zealand publication

Legal deposit applies to physical and digital New Zealand published material.

Meaning of published and publisher

A work is published if it is made available to the public for sale or for free. This includes but is not limited to:

  • video and audio, including recorded music
  • books
  • maps
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • sheet music
  • websites

When you make works available to any section of the public, you are a publisher and legal deposit applies to you. Producing publications doesn’t need to be your primary purpose for you to count as a publisher.

A publisher can be:

  • an individual
  • a club
  • a church
  • an incorporated society
  • a record label
  • a business
  • a university
  • a government agency.

You are the publisher and your publication is in scope for New Zealand legal deposit even if you are paying someone to print publications for you, or you are using a print-on-demand or e-book, music, or film distribution platform. This applies even if the company you are using is based overseas.

New Zealand publication

The definition of New Zealand publication is any work published in New Zealand, including works published by New Zealanders on websites and hosted on overseas self-publishing platforms.

What do I need to deposit?

What happens to my publications?

Items deposited through legal deposit are held in perpetuity, so we’ll always keep them, even if you send us updated versions later.

The descriptive records for deposited items can be found in Publications New Zealand and the National Library Catalogue.

Publications New Zealand
National Library catalogue

Physical publications

When you submit a physical publication, a copy goes into the Alexander Turnbull Library national research and heritage collection.

A copy also goes into our general New Zealand and Pacific collection, and is available to borrow from your local library via inter-library loan.

Inter-library loans from the National Library

Digital publications

When you submit a digital publication, a copy is archived in the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA), our long-term digital preservation system.

If there are restrictions on access to your publication, for example, because it’s commercially available, we will restrict access to on-site researchers using the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room in our Wellington building. Publications in this room cannot be downloaded, printed, emailed or copied.

The reading rooms

If your publication is open access (freely available online), or you've given permission, anyone can access it through the National Library catalogue.

National Library catalogue

The Library's collection of archived New Zealand websites is primarily collected under legal deposit legislation (National Library of New Zealand Act 2003, Part 4). Web harvesting is the term we use to describe the selecting, copying and archiving of websites found on the internet. Websites that are collected are added to the New Zealand Web Archive.

New Zealand Web Archive

The National Library has been mandated by government to carry out the functions involved in the legal deposit process.

The legislation supporting these functions is in Part 4 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003. The Act is supported by 3 Requirement Notices.

Need help?

Have a look at the legal deposit help page or get in touch if you have questions about legal deposit.

Help with legal deposit

Phone — 04 474 3104
Email — legaldeposit@dia.govt.nz