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Genealogy/Family History Studies

Wanting to investigate your family history? Here are some tips and guides.

First steps

Gather the information that you already have.

Research principles

  • 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.

Recommended books

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 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.

Kete CHB is a growing database with topics and images from the local region

National Resources

Other organisations who may be able to assist in your search for New Zealand family history information include:

Caring for family papers and photographs

A brief guide to caring for precious family records and links to further sources of information.

Next Steps

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?


  • Electoral rolls - can help trace when a person was first entered on to the roll

What were the names of their 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



Deceased Estates

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?


Land resources

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?


  • Employment
  • Company information

What other biographical information can I find?


  • Cyclopedias - published in early 20th century
  • War records - try our New Zealanders at War guides
  • Newspapers
  • 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?

Where to next - other national and international organisations and resources which may be able to help

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.

Much of this information is courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries. You will find the most comprehensive guides to genealogy study in NZ on their website

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While every endeavour has been taken by the Central Hawke's Bay District Council to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, Central Hawke's Bay District Council shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. Central Hawke's Bay District Council cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the Central Hawke's Bay District Council information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

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