Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10am – 4 pm, Weekends and Public Holidays 10am – 2pm.

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10am – 4 pm, Weekends and Public Holidays 10am – 2pm.

$ FREE ADMISSION   24 Victoria St, Cambridge , NZ | CONTACT

Top 25 historical resources to research, teach and learn about New Zealand History

Introducing the top 25 +historical resources list

The information on this page has been adapted from a paper presented by Kathryn Parsons, Cambridge Museum. You can access the original version as a pdf document (297kb).

Before you get started, here are some handy hints for online searching (with acknowledgement to the University of Waikato Library for these searching tips)


  1. Use keywords rather than sentences when searching online e.g. Cambridge militia, Star redoubt
  2. Adapt your search terms if the first ones you try don’t get results.
    Think of the three Ws:·

      1. Who are you researching?
      2. What are you researching?
      3. Where are you researching?e.g. Name of individual or group, Topics, Place or type of organisation
  3. Apply phrase searching. Use quotation marks to treat words as a phrase e.g. “3rd Waikato Militia”, “Women’s Suffrage”
  4. Truncation: If a word has several possible endings, use a truncation symbol (usually an asterisk, sometimes a question mark. This tells the system to search for the variant endings. e.g. Use teach* to search for teach, teacher, teachers, teaches, teaching
  5. Wild card: If you want to include several different spellings of a word use the wild card symbol. e.g. Wom?n for searching both woman and women
  6. Remember to search for synonyms e.g. Primary or elementary; alcohol or liquor 



Archway is an online finding aid to New Zealand government archives. It contains descriptions of over 1.5 million records that have been transferred from Government agencies to Archives New Zealand offices in either Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin or Wellington. Online records include WWI personnel records and Police Gazettes.

Visit Archway


The Directory of Community Archives is a tool to help researchers explore the treasures of our past and present held within local community collections across New Zealand. It includes small local organisations, through to larger national institutions.

Visit the Directory of Community Archives




Births, Deaths & Marriages Online

The historic data available to search is limited so that information relating to people who might still be alive can be protected. Information available includes: • Births that occurred at least 100 years ago • Stillbirths that occurred at least 50 years ago •Marriages that occurred 80 years ago • Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased’s date of birth was at least 80 years ago.

Visit Births, Deaths and Marriages Online


FindNZarticles is a collaborative database hosted by the National Library, which has a great collection of bibliographies and indexes to find New Zealand articles. It is also not just references to articles.

Visit FindNZarticles


Kura: Heritage Collections Online

Auckland Libraries’ heritage collections online includes: photographs, heritage maps, manuscripts, shipping records, local history, oral history and index cards.

Also now includes what used to be called the Combined Research Databases: This collection from Auckland City Libraries comprises ones such as: the 1881 electoral roll, Armed Constabulary 1867‑1877, Auckland cemetery records, Auckland Crown Grants, Heritage Images and their NZ wide Photographers database.

Visit Kura: Heritage Collections Online


New Zealand History website by Manatu Taonga –  Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Check out the calendar and anniversaries sections.

Visit HistoryNZ


Pandora Research aka Pandora’s Box is a treasure chest compiled by the NZ Society of Genealogists. There are indexes as well as abridged transcripts of 19th Century NZ documents. Most of the information is in the form of PDF documents. Links are provided to family group sheets, evidence timelines and manuscript transcripts.

Visit Pandora Research


Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Also includes the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography – 3,000 life stories of dead famous people – And it also has my all-time favourite the 1966 An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.



Government Documents

Appendices to the Journal to the House of Representatives (and the Votes and Proceedings): The Parliamentary papers include maps, returns and reports.

Visit Appendices


The British Parliamentary Papers. Colonies: New Zealand. Digitised despatches and reports relating to New Zealand from selected volumes of the British Parliamentary Papers.

Visit Papers


Historical Hansard: The Parliamentary Debates – transcripts of debates in the New Zealand Parliament from 1854-1987.

Visit Historical Hansard


NZ Military History


New Zealand Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary of New Zealand 1863-1871:  An Auckland City Libraries database.

Visit NZ Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary of New Zealand


Online Cenotaph:  Auckland War Memorial Museum’s digital social space where enthusiasts, families, and researchers can share and contribute to the records of those who served for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Visit Online Cenotaph






The “Centralised repository of authoritative cartographic & geospatial resources “ curated by the University of Auckland Library: includes NZ Mapping Service NZMS series maps, Lands & Survey series maps and Topographic series maps.

Visit GeoDataHub


Digital NZ: Search across millions of digital images such as aerial photos, posters and memorabilia. Items are contributed from partners including Te Papa, the Alexander Turnbull Library, Auckland Art Gallery, Te Ara, NZ On Screen and many more.

Visit Digital NZ


Retrolens: Website of aerial photographs- the Local Government Geospatial Alliance (LGGA) has made a large collection of historical images available.

Visit Retrolens


University of Waikato Digital Collections O Neherā: includes:

Historical maps of the Waikato Region

A selection of maps of Hamilton and the Waikato.

Historical photos of the Waikato and New Zealand

A selection of photographs from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Waikato Region Postcards 1890-1940

A collection of commercially released postcards that show the rural and urban landscape of the Waikato, and life and activities.

Visit University of Waikato Digital Collections O Neherā



Index of Māori Names: This index is from an unpublished manuscript compiled about 1925 by the missionary Rev. Henry James Fletcher (1868-1933). In its original form it was 987 pages long, a vast index of Māori names referred to in books and journals, including the names of boundaries, Māori individuals, canoes, trees, landmarks and geographical locations. Many more names have now been added.

Visit Index


Iwidex:  An index of books, articles, chapters and sections of books that contain information about Māori waka, traditions, waiata, haka, tribal whenua, maunga, marae, carving, weaving, stories and whakapapa.

Visit Iwidex


Waitangi Tribunal Reports website has tribunal reports, research reports and school resources.

Visit Waitangi Tribunal Reports




Illustrated London News:  A digital library of the New Zealand content from 1842- 1902.

Visit Illustrated London News


Papers Past site which provides access to millions of pages of digitised New Zealand & Pacific newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Māori newspapers  ‘Niupepa 1842-1933’, a collection of newspapers published in Māori or for a Māori readership is an excellent resource also offered here.  Papers Past also now includes some magazines and journals as well as selected letters and diaries, eg the papers of Sir Donald McLean, 1820-1877 and Parliamentary Papers: Reports and publications from the House of Representatives.

Visit Papers Past




The Early New Zealand Books Collection developed by the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services. It aims to provide a complete online full-text and keyword-searchable corpus of books about NZ which were published in the first two-thirds of the 19th century. Memoirs and collections of letters and journals from the period which were published later are also included. Accounts by early travellers provide information about traditional Maori society and culture as well as early European settlement. In some cases selected chapters have been digitised where the remainder of the content is not relevant to NZ. Illustrations and maps in books have also been digitised, with higher resolution versions available by clicking on the images in the text.

Visit the Early NZ Books Collection


NZETC- New Zealand Electronic Text Collection comprises significant New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials held by Victoria University of Wellington Library.



Additional resources

Archaeological Reports Digital Library: A collection of unpublished archaeological reports provided by Heritage New Zealand.

Visit Archaeological Reports Digital Library


Find New Zealand Artists: a database of artist’s names and an index to finding information about them.

Visit Find New Zealand Artists


NZMuseums: Some museums have local history information on their websites.

Visit NZ Museums


Newspapers of New Zealand is a list of 1521 newspapers from 234 places. This website attempts to list every newspaper ever published in NZ. It’s an ongoing work. Some are digitised on Papers Past.

Visit Newspapers of New Zealand


Journals that are available online e.g. Journal of the Polynesian Society and New Zealand Journal of History.


Te Puna Search is a web-based search service giving access to what is held in New Zealand libraries and worldwide. Te Puna Search is the view of the combined catalogue of New Zealand libraries on WorldCat,

Visit Te Puna Search


He Tohu A declaration. A treaty. A petition. National Library of NZ’s permanent exhibition of 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand.

Visit He Tohu


Transcripts, Miscellaneous Records & Army Department is a genealogy based research project by Lynly Lessels Yates. Lots of work here including land wars listings of deserters, Māori deaths and prisoners.

Visit Transcripts, Miscellaneous Records & Army Department