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Kia mahi tahi tātou - COVID-19 Transcription

Victoria Passau, Collection Manager Online Cenotaph

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira closed to the public from Friday 22 March 2020 in response to the country entering COVID-19 Alert Level 4. This meant a number of our front-line staff and volunteers required work they could complete from home.

Polly transcribing at home during COVID-19.

Polly transcribing at home during COVID-19.

As an outcome of Dan Millar's work in Wellington's archival collections, we were able to provide transcription projects to 14 Visitor Hosts and two of our Pou Maumahara volunteers. They transcribed names, service numbers, ranks, units, embarkation and other important information for Online Cenotaph records. What would have taken 2-3 years has now partially been completed in only a few months.

Now that the Museum has reopened and our Visitor Hosts are back providing manaaki to our visitors we thought we should pull together some stats from the project, so you can get a sense of the excellent work that’s been done over the past eight weeks.

This project helped us identify 14,000 names of people who served for New Zealand. It is important to note that most of these servicepeople have never been publicly listed in one place, so it’s a really powerful way of honouring their service.

Once this transcription project is complete, Online Cenotaph will have a majority of New Zealand’s service people from all wars and conflicts listed. The records are a lasting tribute to our service personnel and allow families and researchers access to more post-WWII service records than ever before.

Transcription statistics during COVID-19 lockdown Level 4.

Transcription statistics during COVID-19 lockdown Level 4.

Auckland Museum. CC BY-4.0.

Volunteers off into the Zooniverse 

We also worked with our museum volunteers on a parallel Memorials transcription project where they were asked to transcribe 3,359 images of memorial plaques and headstones. The volunteers transcribed on average 200 records per day! This is the first private Zooniverse project that the Museum has created and it has identified a new way of working with our volunteers.

Ros Currie (Manager, Volunteer Services) said it was a wonderful project to give volunteers the opportunity to contribute to the Museum while in lockdown

"It was very much appreciated that the Museum offered opportunities for our volunteers to stay involved… It was an important morale booster."

Future projects

The Online Cenotaph team is now working on another project to transcribe our WWII Hall of Memories name panels and Roll of Honour. We are excited to see how we can further engage with our digi-vols.

These projects have not only provided opportunities for staff and volunteers to be productive but also enabled them to remain connected with the organisation and their peers. We are so proud of what our Visitor Host and Volunteer teams have been able to achieve, and cannot thank them enough for the massive contribution to our work and to enriching the records of New Zealand service personnel.

Cite this article

Passau, Victoria. Kia mahi tahi tātou - COVID-19 Transcription . Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 29 May 2020. Updated: 3 June 2020.