Left: Detail from an illuminated "address" to Wellington's Rabbi Herman Van Staveren, from members of his congregation. Right: The Wellington Jewish Community Centre in Webb Street, under construction, circa 1975.
The New Zealand Jewish Archives, incorporating Wellington Jewish Archives, is situated in several rooms at the back of the Jewish Community Centre, 80 Webb Street, Wellington, New Zealand. NZJA is collecting and filing all documents, photographs, memorabilia, Judaica, books, pamphlets, newspaper cuttings, oral recordings and video tapes about Jewish life in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Jewish Archive first began in 1980 and the collection includes some of the earliest synagogue, and other community records, in New Zealand. Over time, and as more people have come to know about it, the collection has grown tremendously – especially over the last few years. Two Judaica exhibitions have been held, the first in 1990 to celebrate the first Jewish service (1890) and the second in 1993 for the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation. It was during the latter time that the wonderful book “A Standard for the People” edited by Stephen Levine was conceived and subsequently published in 1995.
In 2006, the exhibition "Making a Difference" was staged in Wellington, celebrating the particular contributions made by individual Jews to enrich New Zealand society. The archives are often accessed by families overseas who wish to reconnect with their Jewish ancestory, or want to ask specific questions related to history, culture, news or events. The archives are currently being digitized in order to offer better access to the articles and features housed on the site.
What began as a collector's passion has now turned into a stand alone historical repository.
Michael Clements, curator, collector and avid chronicler of Jewish history, has, along with his wife Barbara, been active in Wellington's Jewish community for many years, and is a past president of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation (now the Wellington Jewish Community Centre). He has dedicated the past thirty years to gathering and collecting a rich paper archive on all things Jewish in New Zealand and is able to answer any questionsrelating to genealogy and New Zealand Jewish family history. In the work of maintaining the archive, Michael is often assisted by volunteers who help him to leverage and develop this significant contribution to New Zealand Jewish history, its people and experience.