How to start your family history research

Here are 5 easy steps to starting your genealogy research.


1. Check the Shipping Lists

Early Auckland passenger lists have been digitised by the Auckland Library Shipping lists from other areas have been digitised by the volunteers and can be found here. After 1838, the number of vessels started to dramatically increase, if the search becomes confusing see this great guide on the arrivals from the Auckland Library.


2. Search the National Library for existing family histories

For example, see search on the Wilson family. You can also find family papers, or archives relating to a family member through this search.


3. Look at Historical Birth, Death and Marriage Records (BDM)

Ministry of Internal Affairs' BDM is the most useful tool if you have the patience to use it. Privacy laws only allow older records to be published publicly, so this one is mostly for researching your grandparents and great grandparents. You can also order official certificates from BDM. For a full BDM guide click here.


4. Read the digitised WWI military files

If your relative served during the First World War, their file file will be available to view online. Search by their full name or by the regimental number. For detailed instructions on finding military personnel files see this article. Historic NZ also offers military file transcriptions, making it easier to read these hand written documents and providing you with the exact battles your relative has participated in.


5. Search the Newspapers

Most New Zealand newspapers, published prior to 1950, can be searched through Papers Past. You want to also check the Police Gazette which reported criminal incidents and published mug shots. Māori newspapers digitised up to 1932 can be found on this website. For more info on newspaper click here.


The Next Steps

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Image credit: Blomfeld, C. (1892) Departure of Lord Onslow. Auckland War Memorial Museum. PD-1963-5-1.

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