He aha kei a mātou
What we have
Archives New Zealand is the place to find and access over 6 million records created by the government and public institutions of Aotearoa New Zealand. Learn what types of record we hold.
What archives are
Government agencies create a huge volume of records as they go about their business – each day, they produce documents, data, correspondence and more. When an agency has finished using a record, it’s assessed to understand whether it has long-term value. If it does, it’s transferred to us and becomes an archive.
We hold archives that date from around 1840 to the recent past. They come in a wide range of formats, from written documents to photographs, moving images and sound.
Types of archive we hold
The archives you can find in our holdings include:
immigration and citizenship files
court records, including divorce and bankruptcy files and probated wills
records from Māori Land Courts and Boards, like minute books, alienation and confiscation files
coroners’ inquests into deaths
land registrations, crown land administration and early survey plans
maps and plans for public works like railways and post offices
health, mental health and welfare records
police and prisons records
artworks, including the National Collection of War Art and school journal illustrations
films created by the National Film Unit
other types of public record.
What we don’t have
We only have 3-4% of all records ever created by the New Zealand government. Most records haven’t been kept, because they:
weren’t believed to be valuable
have been lost or damaged by disaster or human error.
We don’t have records that are still being used by government agencies. If you want to see a document that’s still in use, you’ll need to contact the agency that holds it.
Types of record we don’t keep
Public archives keep different types of document to libraries or collecting archives. The table shows some things we don’t have, and where you can look for them.
|Records we don't have||Where to find them|
|People's personal papers, diaries or manuscripts||The National Library of New Zealand|
|Local archives, libraries and museums|
|Birth, death and marriage certificates||Births, Deaths & Marriages|
|The National Library of New Zealand|
|Books or published works||The National Library of New Zealand|
|Records about private houses||Local council archives|
|A complete set of electoral rolls||Local libraries|
|Census records||Stats New Zealand|
|Pension files or tax returns||Inland Revenue|
|Car registrations||New Zealand Transport Agency|
|Films, photographs or artworks that weren't created by or for the government||Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision|
|NZ on Screen|
|Some local archives, libraries and museums|
|Local government records||Local council archives|
We have a very small number of some types of record, including:
the passport applications of fewer than 100 well-known New Zealanders
personnel files of soldiers who served in World War Two or later conflicts – we only have these for soldiers who also served in World War One.
Where to view records
We keep our records in four archives around the country – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. If you:
need information about a record – it’s best to contact the archive that holds it
want to view a record in person – you’ll need to visit the archive that holds it.
Our digitisation team Te Maeatanga is working to make our holdings available online. You can view hundreds of thousands of digitised records in Collections search.
If you want a digital version of a record we haven’t reached yet, you can pay to bump the item to the top of our queue.
Find record locations
The easiest way to check where a record is kept is to find it in Collections search. An item’s location displays on the search results page.
Most records are kept in the archive closest to the place they were created. For example, you can view records about Westland gold mining in Christchurch, while most central government records are in Wellington.
Some of our centres also have extra holdings, on top of the archives for their region – find details of these in the lists below.
Search for records
Special holdings in each archive
As well as regional archives for Northland, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, Auckland has records of:
Native/Māori Schools (1872 - 1984)
the Auckland Provincial Government (1853 - 1876)
the Agent General Auckland (1865 - 1878)
the Waikato Immigration Scheme and other special settlement schemes
immigration, including early correspondence from 1865 - 1915, Chinese poll tax, passenger lists for arrivals in Auckland by ship (1915 - 1965) and plane (1939 - 1965).
Wellington is the largest of our four buildings. It holds regional archives for Taranaki, Whanganui, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū, Wairarapa and Wellington, as well as central government records.
Central government records relate to the whole country, and include:
archives related to the New Zealand Wars, South African War and First and Second World Wars
coroners’ inquests into deaths
citizenship and naturalisation information
police, prison and other law-related archives
government employment and work-related archives
Education Board, school and early university archives
films and photographs created by government
organisations like the National Film Unit, National Publicity Studios and others
artworks including the National Collection of War Art, school journal illustrations and railway and health posters.
As well as regional archives for Canterbury, Westland, Marlborough and Nelson, Christchurch has records of:
Canterbury Provincial Government
the Canterbury Association
Environmental Canterbury and the Canterbury Regional Council.
As well as regional archives for Otago, Southland, Stewart Island (Rakiura) and the sub-Antarctic islands, Dunedin has:
Otago Provincial Government records
New Zealand Fire Service Photographs, including photos from around Aotearoa and overseas
some Canterbury irrigation records
Duplicate Despatches from the Colonial Office, including military, circular and ordinary despatches
Westport-Stockton Coal Company archives.
Find out more about what we have
We can help if you need more information about the types of record we keep.