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In this research guide all codes such as agency codes (AABK, AAYS, ZAAN etc.) or series codes (18805, 8665, 14147 etc.) refer to the system used in our online finding aid, Archway.

Records are listed in Archway as they were written on the record at the time. As a result,, Māori names are often spelled incorrectly or are run together as one word. Macrons are not used. Spellings and phrasings may have changed over time, reflect regional dialects, or a person’s name might be entered using initials or an alias.

So, when searching for people, places, landmarks, or events it is best to try different possible variations, without macrons. For example:

  • Wanganui / Whanganui

  • Ngai Tahu / Kai Tahu / Ngaitahu / Kaitahu

  • Pa / pah

  • Hauhau*/ hau hau*

  • Maori* / Maaori / native* / aboriginal*/ half caste* / halfcaste*

  • Maori reserve*/ native reserve* / Maori register*

The asterisk symbol (*) acts like a wildcard and may bring up more relevant results. For example, Maori* will search for Maori, Maoris and Maoritanga.

Digitised records

Most records held at Archives New Zealand have not been digitised. Those accessible on Archway can be viewed and downloaded via the Archway record listing and the 'record online' tab. Digitised content is also available through our social media channels. These let you access, share and use our holdings for free.

Unless stated otherwise, these images are covered by a Creative Commons BY 2.0 license. You are free to share and adapt the images, but you must give appropriate credit to Archives New Zealand. For more information see our citations and reuse guide.


Most information held about iwi, hapū, whānau, individuals and land are spread across different record series and come from various government agencies. Few records contain whakapapa charts or trees, although Māori Land Court Minute Books may contain whakapapa, in either text or diagram form (see below).

Other departmental records also contain whakapapa for various iwi, hapū and whānau, including:

East Coast

Various Genealogies of iwi Māori

A series of genealogies relating to East Coast iwi, Waikato iwi, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Hinga, Ngāti Hineuru, Ngāti Hauiti, Ohuake, Timahanga, Otanga and Ngāti Hine. [ACIH 16056 /18/28 - Parts 1-11]

Paper copies have been made of these records and are available at the Wellington office as reproductions, numbered 1734-1743.

Hawke’s Bay

The following maps/plans are located within the Statutory Branch Registered Maps, Series 997.

  • Tarawera Block – Tree of ownership, Parekaui Tekapau whakapapa, tracing, c1867. [AAFV 997/84/ H25]

  • Tarawera Block – Tree of ownership, whakapapa, tracing, c1867. [AAFV 997/84/ H26]

  • Tarawera Block – Tree of ownership, Tupurupuru whakapapa, tracing, c1867.[AAFV 997/84/ H27]

  • Tarawera Block – Tree of ownership, Kurapoto whakapapa, tracing c1867. [AAFV 997/84/ H28]

  • Tarawera Block – Investigation into title, Hineuru whakapapa, tracing c1867. [AAFV 997/84/ H29]

Te Wai Pounamu - South Island

Schedule of Native Reserves at Te Wai Pounamu, c1868 - as well as lists of reserves and allotters, this record includes a number of whakapapa tables towards the back of the volume. [AECW 18692/19/19]

Māori Genealogies, South Island (no date). A volume of genealogies, indexed by name. [ACIH 16056/17 /27]

Other Whakapapa Records

Notes on genealogy, history etc., prepared in relation to the Awaoko Block, c1888 – contains various notes in te reo Māori. [AEDK 18746/7/2/23, 2/4, 3/4 & 4/5]

Whakapapa of Ngāti Mutunga (no date). [ABWN 8879 W5280/183]

Record in te reo Māori giving genealogies (Ngāti Kahungunu, no date). [ACIH 16064/21/ 54]

Whakapapa in Correspondence

Correspondence and evidence within Confiscation Papers (formerly held by Land Information New Zealand) often contains whakapapa.



Access to adoption records is restricted. The adoption records we hold are only a small proportion of all adoption records. Most records are held by the Department of Internal Affairs; Births, Deaths and Marriages.

For access to adoption records we recommend contacting Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children:

Manager, Privacy Official Information Services

Privacy Official Information Team

Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children

PO Box 546

Wellington 6011

Central email:

Central telephone: (04) 918-9230

Whāngai and Māori Adoptions

Māori ‘adoptions’, or whāngai, consisted of the custom of sending children to other members of the hapū or whānau to be raised. Whāngai being a person adopted informally in terms of tikanga Māori and brought up as the adopting parents' own child without formal adoption being concluded by any court.

Under the Native Health Act 1909 Māori could no longer use the whāngai system for adopting children. Customary Māori adoption was theoretically prohibited after 1909. Under the provisions of the Native Land Act 1909 Part IX, all Māori adoptions had to be approved by the Māori Land Court.

  • A tangle of restrictions surrounded Māori adoptions until 1955. Provisions regarding Māori adoptions were included in the 1931 Native Land Act Part IX and Māori Affairs Act 1953 Part XI.

  • If both parents of the child were Māori, the adoption could be heard under the 1909 Native Land Act.

  • If the adopting parents were Pākehā and the child Māori, the Infants Act applied.

  • A Māori and Pākehā could adopt a Māori child but the case would be heard in the Magistrates Court.

  • Māori parents could not adopt Pākehā children. The 1955 Adoption Act removed the prohibition on Māori adopting Pākehā children.

The sex of the child added further complexity

  • A Pākehā husband and Māori wife could only adopt a male Pākehā child

  • A Māori husband and Pākehā wife could only adopt a female Pākehā child.


Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages has been compulsory for Māori only since 1911 (marriages) and 1913 (births and deaths). Before these dates, church registers may be the only record of Māori births, deaths and marriages, and even after those dates, not all Māori registered these life occasions.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages branch of the Department of Internal Affairs holds all recorded registrations. For further information, copies of registrations/certificates, and the costs involved, contact:

Births, Deaths, Marriages and Citizenship

PO Box 10-526

Wellington 6143

Phone (in NZ): 0800 22 52 52

Phone (outside NZ): 64 4 474 8150


Searches for specific people registrations, though not actual records, with some date restrictions, can be made at BDM Historical Records.


Civil registration of deaths has been compulsory for Māori only since 1913. Before these dates, church registers may be the only record of Māori deaths.

We hold a handful of death registers. However, the most useful sources of information relating to deaths are Coronial Inquest and Probate records. For more detailed information, see Identity.


We hold Notices of Intention to Marry, 1856-1956 for the whole country. These include many Māori, especially after 1911, when registration of Māori marriages became compulsory. Before 1911, church registers may be the only record of Māori marriages.

A card index for marriages up to 1881 is located in our Wellington Reading Room. For marriages after 1881, you will need to know the place and approximate date of marriage, because the volumes are organised chronologically in three-month blocks and geographically from North to South. For more information, see Identity.

Census-Type Records

We do not hold official census records, most of which were destroyed. However, various lists of Māori and where they lived, often labelled 'census' were gathered, especially in the 19th century.

These records include ‘census’ information from various areas. For more specific regions see the drop-down menus below.


  • Tauiwi, Hauraki-Coromandel area, 1871 [AECW 18683/1/[40]]

  • Māori Census records series [ACIH 16056].

    • Compiled from the dictation of Paora Toki, 1871; Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngati Poro [as written] and Ngā Rauru giving the locality, ‘tribe’ and ‘heads of hapu’.

  • 1881 - Information collected to help identify entitlement to land; actual census sheets included [ACIH 16056/12/17]

  • 1901, 1906 and 1911- correspondence, but often detail about local work for the census [ACIH 16056/13/18]

Māori Affairs, Boxes 19 – 21

These boxes contain a huge variety of lists of people in places, mostly South Island 'half-castes', relating to those who have land and those who claim land, from 1848 to the later 19th century [ACIH/16046/19/12b]

For example:

Return of half-castes living within the Ngaitahu and Murihiku Blocks in 1848-1849 and 1853 [ACIH/16046/19/12b] - Part 2]

Copy of list of half-castes residing at the Neck, Stewart Island in June 1864 and Supplementary Return of half-castes who have probably received land [ACIH 16046/20/12d] - Part 4 6a-21]

Court Records

We hold records from courts around the country, covering a variety of topics from civil and criminal cases to bankruptcy and divorce. These records are held regionally in our four archives, except for coronial files which are all in Wellington. Access to court records varies, depending on the type of record. The following types of court records may be particularly useful in whakapapa research:

Coroners’ Inquests

The records held in Wellington cover the whole country and date from the 1840s to 2000, although early records are incomplete and access to later records is restricted for 50 years – for more information see our Identity guides.

Māori / Native Schools

In 1880 the Department of Native Affairs transferred the control of Māori education to the Education Department. That department administered separate Native/Māori Schools up to 1969 when many were abolished, and the rest transferred to Education Board control.

Records of approximately 450 Native/Māori Schools are held in our Auckland archive. Most records come from the Northern Regional Office of the Department of Education; a few schools transferred records directly. The many records include:

  • Registered subject files, Attendance returns, building and site files [BAAA 1001]

  • Log books [BAAA 1003]

  • Registers of Admission, Progress & Withdrawal [BAAA 1004]

  • Register of Attendance [BAAA 1006]

  • Examination Registers [BAAA 1007]

  • Register of Progress & Achievement [BAAA 1011]

  • The Hawke’s Bay Education Board archives, also held in Auckland, contain registers of admissions for Waiomatatini (Māori) school [YCAK 1365/1a-d]

19th Century Correspondence

19th century correspondence captured the day-to-day business of government. Correspondence includes letters, field reports, and despatches to and from departments. It records the issues and events of the period as well as other valuable and interesting information.


In Wellington we hold many photographic images, over 300,000 from the National Publicity Studios alone. These images are held in various formats and can be difficult to access.

  • Photographs held at the Wellington Archive include:

  • National Publicity Studios – many digitised and available on Archway - [AAQT]

  • Education Photographs, including Native and Māori schools – see above.

  • Patents and Copyrights, including Māori portraits taken by Elizabeth Pulman - [AEGA]

  • Railway Photographs [AAVK and ABIN]

  • Forestry Photographs [AAQA]

  • Agriculture Photographs [AAFZ]

  • War Photographs – various agencies, see below

  • Police and Prison – various agencies, see Law and the Courts

For more detailed information about our photograph holdings and how to access them please see our Photography guide.


Permission to publish, which is free, is needed before any image sourced from us is published. Please apply for permission, providing the full archives reference and description of the file, and stating the title and format of the publication, website or documentary.


Restrictions apply to many records. Negatives and small contact prints are held in secure, temperature-controlled stack areas. Access to them is through our Preservation Team. Please organise access by first contacting us.

Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Wars

Records relating to the Māori War - New Zealand Wars period are generally held within series of the Army Department (AAYS). However, other records can be found from various government agencies:

  • Series 8661 is concerned with the formulation and maintenance of the Colonial Defence Force, the Military Settlers, and other Colonial units [AAYS 8661]

  • Series 8660 papers do not necessarily date from the wars but relate to matters arising from that period. [AAYS 8660]

  • Commission on Compensation Claims arising from the Māori Wars, Auckland 1865 [ACGO 8409 and ACIH 8602]

19th Century correspondence – see above.

Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

We only hold a few records of New Zealand’s involvement in this war. Material relating to Māori is likely to be within the individual personnel files and general files – for more information, see War.

Personnel Service Files

Māori were originally excluded from serving in the South African war, although some did volunteer. They can be difficult to trace as many Māori used English names or anglicised versions of their own name.

Surviving individual personnel files from the Anglo-Boer War are held at our Wellington archive and are also digitised for viewing online. All personnel files are listed by a person’s name on Archway.

Individual personnel files cover the period of 1898 to 1920. We hold personnel files after 1920 only if:

  • The person also served in WWI AABK 18805.

  • The person was in the 28 (Māori) Battalion (WW2) and had a ‘Duplicate’ file brought to us AABK 18805. Access to these files is Restricted. His other file will still be with the NZDF Archive.

The records are erratic, incomplete, and include very little information about actual service.

Te Pakanga Tuatahi – World War One

Personnel Service Files

World War One personnel files not only include details of service, but also name and address of next of kin. WW1 records include members of the Pioneer Battalion.

Most WWI Individual Army personnel files can be viewed online by searching by name or personnel number in Archway use the Archives New Zealand filter on Digital NZ.

Individual personnel files cover the period of 1898 to 1920. We hold personnel files after 1920 only if:

  • The person also served in WWI [AABK 18805].

  • The person was in the 28 (Māori) Battalion (WW2) and had a ‘Duplicate’ file brought to us AABK 18805. Access to these files is Restricted. His other file will still be with the NZDF Archive.

We hold registration and embarkation rolls for the Māori Contingent. These records provide details such as regimental number, rank, company, occupation, religion, where from, next-of-kin and some remarks about fitness or action.

Diaries, Routine Orders and Unit Records

Records of the day-to-day activities of the Māori Contingent. These records are not listed on Archway. You should use the War Archive paper finding aids to place a manual order.

  • Unit Diaries [ACID 18432 WA97/1]

  • Routine Orders [ACID 18432 WA97/2]

  • Unit Records [ACID 18432 WA97/3]

  • Includes field notebooks and some rolls;

  • Nominal Roll 1914 -1916 [ACID 18432 3/1]

  • Registration Roll 1914-1915 [ACID 18432 WA97/3/16]

  • Nominal Rolls 1915 [ACID 18432 WA97/3/17]

Other Rolls and Lists

Register of Maori 1918.

This register, compiled under the Military Services Act 1916, lists the name and occupation of all Māori men eligible for military service. The lists are organised by district with an index at the end of the volume (not listed on Archway) [ACID 18432/1]

  • Maori Contingent Embarkation Rolls 1914-1918

  • Māori Affairs file giving name, occupation and next-of-kin [ACIH 16036/376/ 19/1/473]

  • Maori Contingents and Reinforcements, 1914-1918 [ACIH 16069/ 10h]

  • Maori Pioneer Battalion – casualties, decorations and awards, 1919-1928 [AAYS 8694/18/ 27/161]

  • Other records of the Māori (Pioneer) Battalion may be found under the Māori Affairs and Army Departments.

Returned Servicemen

The archives of the Māori Affairs Department contain a number of files relating to returned servicemen. These include:

  • Survey, Maori Returned Servicemen 1914-1918. Includes full description of the survey, some completed forms from the Tairāwhiti district and material data from other districts. Information taken includes regimental number, name, address, age, form of assistance applied for, benefits received and additional remarks [ACIH 16036 W2459/ 19/1/387]

  • Censuses of Surviving Returned Soldiers of WW1 1958-1974 [ACIH 16036/ 70/1/4 - parts 1, 2 & 3]

  • Maori Soldiers’ Fund – Applications for Assistance, 1953-1962.

  • Letters from Māori welfare officers and individuals regarding grants from the fund for education, housing etc [ACIH 16036/ 70/2, parts 1-7]

Te Pakanga Tuarua – World War Two

After World War Two

Some records are held for New Zealand Forces stationed in Japan, Korea, Malaya, and Vietnam – for more information about these records see our War guides.

Work and Employment

For some government departments, we hold good collections of Service Schedules (cards), but for others, few personnel records are held.

Examples of work and employment records are below, but for more information and detailed listings please see our Employment research guide.