Genealogy/Family History Studies
Wanting to investigate your family history? Here are some tips and guides.
Gather the information that you already have.
- Work from the known to the unknown
- Starting with yourself, work backwards through each generation.
- Interview relatives
- Write or talk to family members. Ask them about family names, where the people lived, when and from where they emigrated. Some records may be in family homes: e.g. letters, school yearbooks, wills, photographs, birth, marriage and death certificates.
- Write down what you find and where
- What institution? Which collection of records? What volume and page number? Which microfilm reel? Record the sources searched, even if the results are negative.
- Search every possible spelling
- Especially of names, including phonetic and typographic errors.
- Re-check material already gathered
- Clerical errors creep into documents and dates may have been entered incorrectly.
Bromell, A. Tracing family history in New Zealand
Bromell, A. Tracing family history overseas from New Zealand
Henry, R. Find your family on the internet: a New Zealand guide
A wide-ranging introduction to online genealogical searching from a New Zealand perspective.
You can access the website Ancestry.com from the free computers in Waipukurau and Waipawa Libraries supplied by the Aotearoa Peoples Network. Ask the staff for assistance if needed
Start your charts
Various family history charts recommended by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists can be downloaded from their web site. Local family history groups can give advice and support.
Other organisations who may be able to assist in your search for New Zealand family history information include:
- Alexander Turnbull Library
- Anglican Archives
- Archives New Zealand
- Auckland City Libraries Research Centre
- Canterbury Museum - Documentary Research Centre
- Hocken Library - University of Otago
- Identity Services, Births, Deaths & Marriages
- Land Information New Zealand
- MacMillan Brown Library - University of Canterbury
- Methodist Archives
- Presbyterian Archives
A brief guide to caring for precious family records and links to further sources of information.
Decide what information to look for now. Keep filling in the details while following the basic research principles above.
When and where they arrived in NZ?
- Shipping and passenger arrivals - will provide a year of arrival
- Naturalisation records - can provide a year of arrival
- Electoral rolls - can help trace when a person was first entered on to the roll
- Burial records - can state how many years a person resided in NZ (This link is to CHB Cemetery Records. NZ wide cemetery records can be found here)
What were the names of their children?
- Death registration certificates - will provide the names of children of deceased
- Funeral notices - can sometimes mention names of children
- Electoral rolls - for children of voting age living at same address with parents
What were the names of their parents?
- Church registers - baptisms
- Marriage registration certificates
What was the name of their spouse?
- Marriage registration certificates
- Church registers - marriage records
- Electoral rolls - for people with the same name at the same address
- Street directories - for people with the same name at the same address
- Death registration certificates - will include the name of their spouse
- Death notices in newspapers - can sometimes mention names of children
Can I get hold of a birth, marriage or death information?
- Birth, Baptism and Adoption
- Marriage and Divorce
- Death and Burial
Where were they buried?
- Tombstone transcripts
- Church Registers - Burial entries
- New Zealand Cemetery Records
Can I find out where they lived?
- Street directories - will list individual if they were noted as the main resident of a household
- Electoral rolls - will be of use if eligible to vote
- Land resources - to help identify where they owned land
- Where was the land they owned?
What was the school or church they attended?
- School records
- Church records & histories
Are there any details of hospitals or childrens' homes they attended?
Is there any information about their work or company?
- Company information
What other biographical information can I find?
- Cyclopedias - published in early 20th century
- War records - try our New Zealanders at War guides
- Alexander Turnbull biographies
- Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Can I get hold of police or court records?
What can I find about someone who was in the war?
Still looking for further information?
Writing a family history
Contact the Professional Historians' Association of New Zealand/Aotearoa. They provide contact details for people experienced in researching and writing family histories.
Guides to writing a family history:
Rosier-Jones, J. Writing your family history: a New Zealand guide
Beaumont, J. How to write and publish your family history: a complete guide for Australia and New Zealand.