The Tokyo War Crimes Trial Collection held in the Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury has been inscribed on the regional register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The collection is the first item from New Zealand to receive this recognition on the Asia Pacific Register. Two items from NZ appear on the international register – the Treaty of Waitangi and the Women’s Suffrage Petition. The objectives of the MOW Programme are to facilitate preservation, access and awareness of the world’s documentary heritage. Says Macmillan Brown Library Manager, Jill Durney, “Its international, regional and national registers recognise and draw attention to outstanding items of documentary heritage through a rigorous nomination process.”
The Tokyo War Crimes Trial collection – the Pacific’s equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials – contains almost 380 volumes and nearly 110,000 pages from the trial of Japanese war criminals held between April 1946 and November 1948. After the trial ended Justice Erima Harvey Northcroft, New Zealand’s representative on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), donated his nearly complete set of trial documents to the then University of Canterbury College. The value of this gift has risen exponentially, as other copies of the material have dwindled, disintegrated and been lost over the ensuing years.
A proposal is currently being developed to digitally preserve the collection, a collaboration with the newly established UC Humanities Computing Unit.