There are many useful resources for researching New Zealand ancestors.  Sources of information include indexes to newspaper notices and church records. 

The key to finding information is in the State Library catalogue using a keyword search.  Search under the name of ships or ports in New Zealand with keywords such as emigration, immigration, immigrants, passenger lists, church records, death notices, marriage records, obituaries, registers of births, wedding anniversaries.

Guides, archives libraries and gateways

The following resources are available either in the Genealogy Centre, 3rd Floor, State Library:

Family history at National Archives

Family history research in New Zealand: a beginner's guide

Whakapapa : an introduction to Maôri family history research

Archives New Zealand - the website includes: Blue Books 1840-1855 - The Blue Books contain detailed statistical information from New Zealand’s early colonial period, 1840-1855. They contain information about population, military, shipping, trade, revenue, land transactions, civil servants, churches, schools, prisons.

Archway Online Catalogue

Research Guides

National Library of New Zealand -  This site includes: Papers Past  This digital collection covers the period 1839-1945 and includes 68 newspaper titles from throughout New Zealand.

Researching Family History

Auckland City Libraries - Auckland City Libraries website has a lot of information in its Family History section.

New ZealandGenWeb - the WorldGenWeb Project is a non-profit, volunteer based organization dedicated to providing genealogical and historical records and resources for world-wide access.

New Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc.

Gen-guide / New Zealand Society of Genealogists

New Zealand genealogist / New Zealand Society of Genealogists

FamilySearch - best place to begin a search for passenger arrivals in New Zealand. From the home page under Browse by Location, select Australia and New Zealand - New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1973. Once a person has been located in the index,  a digital copy of the original passenger list can be viewed.

Immigrant Ships to New Zealand 1835 to 1910 NZ Bound  - these two websites both have a large number of transcribed passenger lists to help find New Zealand bound ancestors.

Papers Past - digitised copies of New Zealand newspapers and is a very useful source for passenger arrivals.

Shipping index 1852-1880: arrivals and departures, New Plymouth, New Zealand - this set of microfiches has been compiled from entries in the Taranaki Herald.

Births, marriages and deaths

The official recording of births, marriages and deaths in New Zealand, known as civil registration, began in 1848 for births and deaths and in 1854 for marriages. It was not a requirement for Maori marriages to be recorded until 1911 and for Maori births and deaths to be recorded until 1913.

New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs - Use this website to find births, marriages and deaths in New Zealand for Births 1840-1915, Marriages 1840-1935, Deaths 1840-1965. Deaths later than 1965 are searchable if the deceased’s date of birth was over 80 years ago

The State Library has the following indexes in the Genealogy Centre on the 3rd floor in either Microfiche, or CD-ROM format: Births 1840-1990, Marriages 1840-1990,  Deaths 1840-1990. There is a separate index to War Deaths 1914-1918

District keys for births and deaths up to 1920

District keys for births and deaths 1920-1955

Ordering certificates

New Zealand birth, marriage and death certificates can contain lots of useful information for the family historian. Death certificates, in particular, can be very informative and often contain the place of birth and the length of time spent in New Zealand For a detailed breakdown of information recorded see the Library guide:  Information found on certificates for Australian states, New Zealand and the British Isles (PDF 35KB). It is recommended that printouts are purchased, rather than certificates, as they contain more information.  They can be ordered from New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs

Last updated on 22 September 2021