Pacific Regional Branch

BY MICK NEWNHAM

Approximately 70 delegates from across the Pacific region gathered in Honiara, Solomon Islands to meet, share knowledge and, most importantly, to renew friendships at the Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (PARBICA).

National Museum of Solomon Islands. Photo by Mick Newnham.

The presentations covered a range of topics that neatly covered the six strategic directions of the wider International Council on Archives. PARBICA is an active and vibrant organisation. I was very impressed to learn of the records management toolkit that had been produced to assist archives in the region and to hear case studies on the use of this resource.

One afternoon was allocated to visit the National Archives of Solomon Islands (NASI). With the great Solomon Islands hospitality the entire afternoon was filled with food and entertainment as well as tours of the building and storage areas. The highlight was undoubtedly the NASI theme song performed by local dub/reggae group the Ronlus Band. The theme song’s chorus, ‘archive bilong yumi’, I’m sure is clear to non-Pisin speakers as well.

National Archives of Solomon Islands. Photo by Mick Newnham.

The conference over, the objectives of this part of the trip had been achieved. Described in clinical performance indicators – contact had been made, the NFSA had been widely promoted and opportunities for future collaboration explored. In human terms however, friends had been made, mutual understanding reached and we were looking forward to meeting and working together in the future.

The second objective of this trip was to visit the National Museum of Solomon Islands and discuss the museum’s audiovisual collection. Several months previously Mr Sosimo Narasia, the head of the museum’s audiovisual unit, had contacted the NFSA seeking advice on the preservation of U-matic video tapes. We exchanged information by email and telephone but there is nothing as productive as sitting down together and working with a collection in situ.

Preservation starts with the broader environment and slowly focuses on finer and finer detail until finally reaching the individual object. Dealing with both the costs and irregular supply of energy is a major issue in the Solomon Islands. Energy for climate control is crucial where chemical deterioration is enormously accelerated by the high temperatures and relative humidity. Dealing with this dilemma often creates unique and innovative local solutions that may have wider application. Discovering and assessing these solutions has in the past led to interesting research projects and outcomes. The NFSA’s research into film cans – which changed the way major manufacturers around the world now design and construct cans – was the result of such a regional solution.