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Getting started with New Zealand research

New Zealand lies in the S.W. Pacific Ocean, 2000km east of Australia.  New Zealand consists of 2 major Islands - North and South Island, with Stewart Island below the South Island, and the Chatham Islands 500 miles east of Christchurch.  New Zealand was first discovered in 1642 by Abel Tasman of Holland, who gave it its name.  Captain James Cook claimed New Zealand as a British Colony in 1769. But this was not ratified until 1841 following the Treaty of Waitangi process of 1840. The Polynesian (Maoris) arrived around 1000A.D.  The Chatham Islands were originally settled by Moriori people. Mount Cook (Mount Aoraki) is the highest mountain at 12,316ft. (3754metres) high.  A wide range of temperatures, from tropical in the north, to dry cold in the south.

When the British colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788 its territorial limits were declared to include "all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean" and running westward to the 135th meridian east. This included the islands of New Zealand. Some early records relating to New Zealand are to be found in the records of New South Wales. Before the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901 it was commonplace to talk of the seven British colonies as "Australasia". New Zealand has an "Australasian past—whaling, sealing, missionaries, goldmining, pastoralism"[1] making strong early bonds. It is not uncommon for the threads of family history to criss-cross the Tasman Sea.

See the FamilySearch tutorial "New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages Online"' 

Jurisdictions

Auckland Kapiti  Taranaki 
Bay of Plenty King Country Waikato
Canterbury Manawatu Wairarapa
Coromandel Marlborough Wairarapa South
East Cape Northland Wellington
Fiordland Otago Westland
Hawkes Bay Southland

  Research Tools

See the FamilySearch tutorial "New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages Online"' 

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

Libraries, Books and Newspapers

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Historical and Regional Resources

  • (helpful tools and resources, gazetteers)
  • (language dictionary, handwriting guide or tutorial, etc.)


References and Notes

  1. Erik Olssen, '"New Zealand–Australian relations" in Graeme Davison, John Hirst, Stuart Macintyre (eds) The Oxford Companion to Australian History (1st rev ed., Oxford University Press, 2001), Print ISBN-13: 9780195515039, eISBN: 9780191735165 accessed 14 February 2013.

Help Wanted

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Featured Content

The sovereignty of New Zealand was proclaimed and its courts established by Ordinance in 1841. Court records that may be useful for genealogical research are those of the Supreme Court 1841-1980 (renamed the High Court in 1980), Police Magistrates Courts 1846-1893, Resident Magistrates’ Courts 1893-1980, District Courts 1980-present, and Wardens’ Courts 1858-present. Read more...

See the FamilySearch tutorial "New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages Online"' 

Did you know?

  • Did your Ancestors live in Otago/Southland?  The Otago Nominal Rolls Index (ONI) up to 1876 is available on line, showing electoral rolls and street directories.
  • New Zealand was a British colony where British soldiers served and sometimes remained following their military service. New Zealand-born soldiers also served in British regiments stationed in New Zealand. The military records contain information on all soldiers who served in the British military.
  • There are School Admission, Progress and Withdrawls up to 1920, available at many New Zealand Libraries, or contact the nearest NZ Society of Genealogy Branch, and they will be able to tell you where they are located.
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News and Events
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  • Current Events
  • New Zealand's annual Family History Fair will be held in Hamilton, 26th and 27th August 2011.

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