Maori Genealogy Research Resources

Before starting, talk with extended family members and read a lot of books on the area where your research is based.  List any pertinant details such as mission stations where and when, maori hapu leaders and their reactions to change, local land names, marae and tribes, the political situation, missionaries, travellers diaries, etc.

[ Non-traditional Resources ]


In pre-european times, last names (surnames) were rare.  They appear infrequently from 1800 to 1900, and frequently from 1900 to the present day. This can be 'good' and 'bad' for a genealogist, as maori not only had an ancestral name, they also had a european name, a name easy for the european to pronounce. Some of the reasons behind the names chosen include:

For example: in the case of the Ngati Hao o Nga Puhi brothers, Nene and Patuone: Nene was baptised after Thomas Walker a local trader, but kept his name and became known as - Tamati Waka Nene.  His brother, Patuone, kept his name and was baptised as Eruera Maihi Patuone.  Both born of the same parents, but with different last names.


If you have not already done so, I advise you to consult with elders at your local marae.  Some information that you may wish to acquire include:

Kamera Raharaha's website Maori Organisations has a listing of local Marae.

Non-traditional Maori Resources

NZSG - Maori Special Interest Group

The NZSG Inc - Special Interest Group for Maori specialises in gathering genealogical information on maori, for descendants.  The NZSG overall has created a large number of indexes that are of value to people researching NZ, worldwide.

Maori Trust Boards

Either hold or have genealogical records which may offer genealogical evidence.  Trust boards were set up to administer funds held in the Maori Trustees Accounts.  See Kamera Raharaha's website Maori Organisations for a listing of Marae and they may be able to place you in touch with their local trust board.

The Dictionary of New Zealand

This reference book, available at most local NZ libraries, has information on 'notable' maori and european starting from 1769.  Not all maori leaders are mentioned, though the book has birth, death, marriage and information and is a good resource.

Alexander Turnbull Library - Biographies Index

The Alexander Turnbull Library's Biographies Index is available for lookup on microfiche at local NZ libraries specialising in family history.  Correspondence to the AT Library by family historians are indexed, so not all of the New Zealanders in the ATL Biographies Index are "famous".


Historic and cadastrel maps for most of NZ may be found at the University of Auckland geographic library. These date from the 1840's. Photocopies may be taken of the maps.

Church or Missionary Society Registers

These are the earliest vital records available on maori and european in New Zealand.  Samuel Marsden arrived 1814 in the Bay of Islands, near Auckland. He preached his first sermon on Christmas Day. The first maori church opened in Putiki, Wanganui, in 1842.

For european, usually the birth/baptism, marriage, death/burial dates are recorded.
For maori, usually the baptism, marriage and burial dates are recorded, if any.

I have not yet seen a missionary register which has maori birth or death dates prior to 1840, and many times after that date.   These may have been recorded by descendants in bibles, dairies, on headstones and after 1865, in the Maori Land Court.

Some church registers have been indexed by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG, Inc.) and are available at public libraries that specialise in family history within NZ., ie. Auckland City Library, Hamilton Public Library, etc.

Missionary Diaries & Journals

Another, sometimes great, resource are the journals and dairies of various missionaries such as the Wesleyan missionary Rev Richard Taylor and CMS minister Rev Alfred N. Brown.  In Rev Brown's case, his diary describes the events unfolding around him in Tauranga and lists dates of death, baptism or burial of important maori.  Rev Richard Taylor's journals, on the other hand has a census of european in the Wanganui area in 1842 and maori baptisms, marriages and burials that he performed during 1842-3.

Births, Deaths & Marriages

Prior to the Births Deaths & Marriages Office, maori passed on places of birth, death and burial by word of mouth. All of these places were connected to the land. The beach, rocks, caves, trees, stones jutting out of the river, a strange curve on a hill, may have a special significance to some families or tribes - a place of birth, ofburial, an old pa site where someone fought, or died, land and tribal boundaries.

Think of births, deaths and marriage register entries as reliable only if your family were not landowners, or if they were married to a european and that person signed it!  Either way, when you fill in an application for the bdm certificate, request a photocopy of the actual register, this way its cheaper and you see who registered the death.  Many, many, maori landowner's found that their lands had been signed away, or 'succeeded to', by non-family members who onsold their lands to friendly land agents - who onsold the land to european - who found themselves being confronted by aggravated owners.

Civil Registration - Register of Births, Deaths & Marriages

Only marriages between maori and european were required to be officially registered prior to 1911.  The Maori Register of Marriages recorded marriages between 1911-1954.  The Maori Register of Births and Deaths were recorded between the years 1913-1961.  After this time maori births, deaths and marriages are recorded in the General register alongside other New Zealanders. Names listed in the Maori Register may be under the person's first name, last name or aliases.  Prior to, during, and after (!) this time some used the European Register to record their Births, Deaths and Marriages. [ Birth, Death and Marriage Entry's ]

The New Zealand Society of Genealogists have indexed the district keys to these records. District keys are finding aids for researchers. The district keys to births, deaths, and marriages are available from NZ public libraries that specialise in family history or LDS - Family History Centers (worldwide).

New Zealand. Registrar-General's Office (1995)., "B.D.M. Maori.Marriages." [3 microform] Arranged alphabetically covers period from 1913-1961., New Zealand. Registrar-General's Office., Dept. of Internal Affairs, Central Registry for the Registrar-General, Lower Hutt, N.Z. Any Local Library dealing with Family History.

Intent or Application To Marry Returns
Held at the National Archives, the returns commence from 1856

Half-Caste Disability Removal Act 1860
Legitimised long-term liasons  between maori and european if the parents married after a child was born, or within twelve months of the Act.

KAHITI & NZ Gazette

During the years 1902-1956 tamaiti whangai (maori adoptions) were published in "Kahiti" and the "NZ Gazette".  A public acknowledgement of the adoption was a right a proper thing to do, in a maori sense.  The "NZ Gazette" lists the adoptee's name, adopting parents names and residence, and the childs birth parents names.

NZSG Cemetery Indexes

The NZSG's Cemetery Indexes may be found at LDS - Family History Centres (worldwide).  NZSG, Inc., has recorded (with permission from elders and trustees) maori cemetery memorials, burial book records, plot book information, headstone transcriptions and funeral directors records usually within the same cemetery transcript.

Local Councils

Some local Borough Councils, Cemetery Trust Boards, etc produced Burial Registers which were transcribed by the NZSG Inc.,  Some of these to are available at local NZ libraries specialising in family history, e.g.,

Local Historical Societies

Sometimes a local historical society will transcribe and gather information, loosely based on NZSG material, on a cemetery, its inhabitants and the surrounding area, and publish the material.  An example that I can think of is the St Stephens Anglican Church in Parnell, Auckland, produced by the Waikato-Auckland Historical Society.


Some libraries have Photographic Collections may be located at libraries such as the Alexander Turnbull Library, Auckland City Library, Tauranga Library and others.  Other photographs may be sourced from various books, extended family members, local marae, or pa.

Pensions & Old Age Pensions

Ten maori pensioners were recorded in the "NZ Official Year Book" for 1895 under Military Pensions. Old Age Pensioners might be listed at the National Archives within the Wardens Court Records.

Maori Electoral Rolls

Look up your nearest LDS Family History Centres (world-wide) to read the Electoral Rolls for NZ from 1865.

From 1867 maori men over the age of 21 were given the right to vote, and from 1893 maori women were included. Maori and part-Maori today may choose between voting on the General Electoral Roll (New Zealander's from 1840) or on the Maori Roll (Maori from 1867) choosing between one of the four regional Maori electorates.  Registration is compulsory but voting is voluntary.  Examples:

i.e., 1866 Electoral Roll - Bay of Islands:  Last name, first name, area
i.e., 1866 Electoral Roll - Raglan (Whaingaroa): Last name, first name, area
i.e., 1866 Electoral Roll - Porirua, near Wellington: Last name, first name, area, qualification
i.e., 1954 Electoral Roll - Last name, first name, residence, tribe, hapu

Today, New Zealand Post (Post Office) prints the electoral rolls and some local libraries keep the most recent copy of the electoral roll and telephone books.

NZSG, St Johns., (1994)., "1893 women on first NZ electoral roll." [microform]. New Zealand Society of Genealogists, Auckland,NZ. Takapuna City Libraries,Auckland, NZ.


The first census that maori took part in was Bishop Selwyn's 1844 Census, european had census' since 1851. Census' may be found at some local libraries.

Bishop Selwyn's maori Census was thorough.  Recent census' however, display statistical information, although there is an option to release personal census information, 100 years after the date of the census is filled in by citizens.

European census years: 1851, 1858, 1861, 1864, 1867, 1871, 1874, 1878, 1881, 1886, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1911, 1916, 1921, 1926, 1936, 1945, *1945 (NZ armed forces overseas), 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996.

Maori census years: *1844 (Bishop Selwyn's census), 1857-8, *(Years missed during NZ Land Wars), 1874, 1878, 1881, 1886, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1911, 1916, 1921, 1926, 1936, 1945, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996.

Maori Land Court minute books - post-1900

Look up your nearest LDS Family History Centre (world-wide) to read MAORI LAND COURT minute books post-1900.  Other repositories are at the Alexander Turnbull Library (Wellington), some University libraries, the NZ National Archives, etc.  Maori Land Court minute books pre-1900 are available from the Maori Land Court in that area:
Court Area headquarters Area coverage
Tai Tokerau  Whangarei upper north of the North Island
Waiariki  Rotorua middle of North Island
Tairawhiti Gisborne east coast, North Island
Aotea Wanganui south mid-west coast, North Island
Waikato-Maniapoto Hamilton north mid-west coast, North Island
Takitimu Hastings east coast, North Island
Ikaroa  Palmerston North mid-west coast, North Island
Te Waipounamu Christchurch South Island

The Maori Land Courts list, among other things:

Auckland Provicial Government Gazette

Lists the earliest Maori Land Court cases in the Auckland area from 1865.  It also advertises Returns for the Sale of Crown Land to european purchasers, after the land is sold to the Crown by maori.

The "NZ Govt Gazette" 1850-2, pg 167, advertised another case was where a 3-year lease was taken out by the Crown from maori for the Thames gold field (Cape Colville - Kauairanga). And there are other examples, such as:

Old Land Claims

Can be a hidden resource for ancestry:

Half Caste Claims in Case Files 5A, 25A and Inventory No 9, held at the National Archives may hold the clues necessary to find birth, death, marriage or ancestry records for maori.  The european case files may also name partners in common law marriages and any issue the couple may have had.

The Appendices To The Journals of the House of Representatives
Has Reports of maori land valuations, names of owners, Natives Reserves Act Reports - family groupings, etc

Henry Hanson Turton (1840) "Maori Deeds of Old Private Land Purchases in NZ 1815-1840" records land transactions prior to 1840 and is available at Auckland City Library - Special Collections department.  Usually lists the date of sale, block sold, name of the seller and purchaser.

War Records

Nominal Rolls for 1941-2 and 1943-1948 (NZ Military Records) are on microfiche and held at LDS - Family History Centres (worldwide).  Some maori fought alongside NZ Servicemen, others fought within maori battalions pioneered in 1914.

The Appendices To The Journals of the House of Representatives
Lists Waikato POW hospitalised during the period of the NZ Land Wars 1865-1872.

Cemetery burial records and headstone transcripts in Auckland, Wellington, and Otago sometimes list those maori POW buried in local cemeteries.  Other sources are local newspapers of that period, or government reports such as the Hansard Reports (small blue book) of the 1880s.


The first european-style maori school was opened in 1816 by Thomas Kendall.  Thirty Three students between the ages of 9-17 years are recorded as having attended the first mission school opened in August 1818 by the Church Missionary Society.  In 1849 Bishop Selwyn founded St Stevens School in the Bombay Hills, Auckland, for maori boys.   The Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholic's continued mission schools up until the NZ Land Wars of 1861 -1872.  After which, the various churches continued to school maori to the present day.  The Native Schools Act 1867 established a national system for the education of maori and education was made compulsory in 1877.

The Appendices To The Journals of the House of Representatives 1862-

School Inspectors were appointed to report the housing, living conditions and educational standards for schools in 1862.  This gives a sometimes funny and useful insight into the conditions at St Stephens College, (Mount) St Marys, St Annes College and Three Kings School, all in Auckland in 1862.  With the exception of St Stephens, the schools accepted both maori and european pupils.

The 1867 Appendices reported the names of (mainly maori) 'children' enrolled at the Three Kings School in Auckland.  The oldest 'child' being 26 years of age.

New Zealand Index Annual

First issued in 1899, the annual contains the names of more than 350 maori schools from 1879-1969, and during the period of the Civil system more than 150 maori Registration Offices are named.  The series lists and inventory of rolls and school records may include such information as: student name, date of birth, parent/guardians name, date enrolled, last school, date left, and where they moved, illness or date of death (if known).

Governor Sir George Grey Collection

Photocopies of manuscripts and letters penned to the Governor of NZ during his tenure were left by Sir George Grey and are held at the Auckland City Public Library - Special Collections department.


A few maori marriages and deaths might be found in local newspapers.  In some cases the Birth, Death and Marriages were indexed, i.e., the Auckland newspapers ...

See the National Library's - NZ Newspapers and Periodicals or Niupaper: Maori Newspapers, 1842-1933.

Events you might find in newspapers include, i.e., "The Daily Southern Cross": a list of the antecedents of the 11 maori chiefs who travelled aboard the 'Ida Zieglar' to England on 5 Feb 1863, Resident Magistrate's Court cases, a letter to Queen Victoria from a number of Maori chiefs, on the death of her husband Prince Alfred, The Prince Consort on 4 Feb 1863, etc

National Archives

Whakapapa for maori and pacific island people are held at the National Archives in Wellington. They also pass regional genealogical information on to their regional offices or local libraries for safe keeping.


The National Archives in Auckland is also creating an index of the Auckland Hospital Board Admission Registers.

Auckland Regional Office for the National Archives:
525 Mt Wellington Highway
(09) 276 6185

You can request your own medical records from a hospital, but you cannot request another persons. My mother and I did this to find the death dates of my brother and sister - who died at one day old.  A lot of  information was forwarded that you would not find in the death certificates, or anywhere else, such as my mother's past admissions to hospitals, cause of death of children, birth weight of my brothers and sisters, time of birth, what was done, who the doctors were, etc.

Specialist Publications

Rex and Adrianne Evans are specialist publisher's (Evagean Publishing Ltd) operating out at Titirangi in Auckland.  They collect birth, death and marriage dates, information, and photographs and publish their books for family members.  Some of the books are made available at local libraries specialising in family history research.

Check to see if your family history hasnt already been published by looking up the online NZ library catalogues.

Also the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc., produces a monthly magasine called "The New Zealand Genealogist" which lists and sometimes describes personal research performed by members of the NZSG.  It is well worth a look, especially if you know of a family genealogist who was a past member of this organisation.


On 29 Jul 1959 a major fire at the National Archives destroyed all pre-1959 maritime and customs department records held AT the National Archives.  There also are certain instances where harbour pilots destroyed local shipping records, however in isolated incidents some of these were kept and may have found their way into local museums.  Masters Certificates, Certificates of Competancy and Certificates of Service may have survived if kept by family members.  Crews lists only appear in very rare instances.

The NZ and Provincial Government Gazettes
Sometimes listed vessels owned by maori in the northern part of the colony, e.g.,

Their names, and those of european within the Auckland Provincial Government Gazette, are part of the Watts Index and the Index To Masters, Mates and Engineers available at the National Maritime Museum and local NZ libraries specialising in family history.

Other places where early maori traders may be listed are in the Provincial Government Gazettes, local newspapers of the day, harbour pilot diaries (if any), and the dairies of early missionaries, i.e., Rev AN Brown: 25 Feb 1847: Nuka (alias Taipari) sent £50.6s to Rev Brown to look after, so that he might save up to purchase a vessel for his tribe.  (Nuka's Tauranga tribe (Ngatihi) were growing wheat and salting pork for the Auckland market.)

I hope that the above has been of help and I wish you the best of luck with your research.

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