New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at

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Record Description

The records include digital images of probate records from the New Zealand Archives. The records were created by local courts throughout New Zealand regions. This collection covers the years 1843-1998. Images are being published as they become available. Although the index will contain entries up through 1998, the images for probates issued during the past 50 years are unavailable for viewing.

Probate records are court records that describe the distribution of a person's estate after he or she dies. Even though probate records were not created for every person who died, they are very helpful for research because civil authorities began recording probate actions earlier than they recorded birth and death records.

Wills or probate records were kept by each state in Australia, beginning in the 1800s.

Since a will was the only record necessary for the transfer of property and belongings to family and close friends, disagreements often occurred. To solve such disagreements, all those involved instigated a probate. The records in this collection represent the eventual conclusions of those probate hearings.

Anyone of legal age and sound mind, who owned property (real or personal) in New Zealand, had the right to leave a will. The probate process began with a testator executing a will, followed by witnesses attesting and subscribing the will. After the death of a testator, the will was probated by the executor, usually at the court nearest the deceased’s place of residence.

An individual who left a will is said to have died "testate." Someone who did not leave a will, or a valid will, died "intestate." The probate process is essentially the same for both and may take many years to complete.

To learn more about the probate records, the article New Zealand Probate Records has an expanded description of the records.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998.

Record Content

Probate records may contain the following information:

  • Name of testator
  • Death date
  • Record date
  • Occupation
  • Names of heirs
  • Guardians and executor
  • Relationships
  • Residences
  • Addresses of property owned
  • An inventory of the estate (including trade and household goods)
  • Names of witnesses

How to Use the Record

The probate records are categorized in order by county, record type, date range, and volume. The earlier probate packets are arranged in three series arranged alphabetically by surname. The more recent records are filed by date.

An index is available on the Archives of New Zealand website, which will give the probate record number associated with a name. When you search for a name on the index, it will bring up a list of documents that mention that name. When you find the entry you are looking for, click on "Order Details" to find the probate record number. On FamilySearch find the range of record numbers that includes your record number. Be prepared to sort through the files as they are often out of numerical order at the beginning of the set.

Search the Collection

To search by index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

To search by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select the appropriate "Court"
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" which will take you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

When searching:
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The earliest probate packets are arranged in 3 series arranged alphabetically by surname. The more recent records are filed by date.
  • Probate records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who have previously received an inheritance.
  • The spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned, or relationships noted in the will may not have the same meaning as they do today.
  • Use the death date and estimated age to approximate a birth date.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • You may need to search using an alternate or nickname.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Use the residence to search for other records in that location.
  • For more tips, go to FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
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Don't overlook FHL Place New Zealand items or FHL Keyword New Zealand items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see New Zealand Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Related FamilySearch Historical Records

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"'New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998." Images. FamilySearch. Website: accessed 2015. Citing Archives New Zealand, Auckland Regional Office.

Record Citation:

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998.

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998.


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  • This page was last modified on 7 August 2015, at 20:49.
  • This page has been accessed 23,264 times.