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Research in New Zealand

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Map of New Zealand.Researching family history in New Zealand is not as easy as it once was.


In 2009 New Zealand Birth Deaths and Marriages imposed restrictions where once the records were open they are no closed as follows:

Births – Closed for 100 years from the date of the event.


Marriages – Closed for 80 years from the date of the event.


Deaths – Closed for 50 years from the date of the event.

To access closed records you must know the date and place of the event and use an accredited person to obtain copies of the records. 

All other records are considered open and can copies can be obtained by searching the National Index and paying the appropriate fee.

Census records for New Zealand have been destroyed.

Electoral Rolls are the next best source of information and survive from the 1850s to the present day and are an open public record. Post 1980 rolls are not on the internet and can only be searched in libraries that retain them. The companion to these are the Habitation Indexes where you can search by the householders address but these indexes only exist post 2000 and are in a few select libraries.

Immigration Records 

Indexes for immigrants have been compiled and are held by various libraries for example the Auckland Public Library has an online index to many of their arrivals,  the Hawkes Bay Museum has an unpublished  card index to their arrivals into Napier. It is very important when researching immigration records that if you can, you establish the port of arrival (or province they landed in) to assist you in finding the correct record.


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Miscellaneous Records

Wises Directories  from c  1870s to 1950s were compiled on a national basis and are very useful tracing families and family movements

Military Records 

Digital copies of service records for the Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902 and World War 1914 – 1918 have been published along with nominal rolls and many books from 1840s to the present day. All post 1920 personnel records are held by the New Zealand Defence Force

Burial & Cremation Records

Many cemetery cremation and burial records have now been published online. It is important to note that the headstone transcriptions for many cemeteries are not online and often contain far more useful information than the online records


Wills and Probate records exist up to the 1990s are indexed from c 2000 you still have to locate the place of death and have the courthouse records searched for the relevant probate and will records. All historical wills and probate files are held by Archives New Zealand.



Sovereign Ancestry UK - Genealogy Research in New Zealand   Sovereign Ancestry UK - Genealogy Research in New Zealand






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