Family History Month – Part 3

As Family History month continues so does the list of genealogy resources available at Wellington City Libraries. For this post we feature a handy hint from our Local History Specialist, Gábor, that you can use when using the historic ‘Birth, Death and Marriage’ database in order to get a specific date for the event you are searching for. Also some help in finding passenger lists for ships that came to New Zealand, World War 1 service records and the type of information you can find searching through the NZ Gazette. You can find a display of these genealogical resources from this series of blogs on the second floor of Wellington Central Library.


When did your ancestors arrive in New Zealand? How did they get here? Where did they come from? Passenger lists can help you answer all these questions.
If you already know the name of the ship, or which port they might have arrived at in NZ, or roughly when, you can find many passenger lists on:

Denise and Peter’s
Over 1000 passenger lists, which can be searched by the name of the ship or port of arrival.

New Zealand Bound
Passenger lists arranged by port of arrival. Excellent tips on calculating year of arrival and other details, and many links to other sites containing passenger lists and all sorts of information related to shipping.

If you’re starting from scratch, without any immigration details, you can search by your ancestor’s name to find a passenger list on:
Family Search – Archives NZ Passenger Lists, 1839-1973
Search by the name of your ancestor, or browse the collection by port of arrival, year and ship. There are good tips for searching the lists.

Papers Past
Ships’ arrivals were usually reported in the newspapers, sometimes with a list of the passengers and often with interesting details about the sailing.

If you had a relative serving in WW1 their military record will give a thorough description their military service – from when they enlisted, through wartime and beyond. Besides valuable information like birthdate and place, and next of kin, you can find out all sorts of interesting details about them, like the colour of their eyes and condition of their teeth!
Personnel files of WW1 servicemen are held at Archives NZ. The files are made up of numerous documents (attestation papers, medical history, casualty forms etc) that have been compiled into one file for each soldier. The files have been digitised and can be searched by name on ARCHWAY

For adding depth and fascinating detail to your family history research, you can’t go past Papers Past.
This website of digitised newspapers from the National Library’s collection of NZ (including Maori) and Pacific newspapers is continuously being extended – both date ranges and titles. You can search for specific people, places, events etc, or browse through papers – what you find will provide insights into the social, economic and political times in which your ancestors lived.
The new version of the website was launched recently and has more than just newspapers. It is divided into 4 sections – Newspapers, Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries, and Parliamentary Papers. Searching is easier, with “a cleaner, more modern interface…and search tools have been improved, making it easier to search groups of papers, pick date ranges, and scan results”.

BIRTH, DEATH and MARRIAGE: Obtaining specific dates

After a change in legislation in the mid-2000’s, tighter restrictions on accessing birth, death and marriage (BDM) data were introduced which saw the end of the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) providing annual datasets. These had been published on microfiche up to 1990 (which the central library continues to hold) and as computer files from 1991 onwards. However this change also saw the DIA make “historic” BDM data available and searchable online providing the following conditions are met:

1. The birth occurred more than 100 years ago
2. The marriage occurred more than 80 years ago
3. The death occurred more than 50 years ago OR the deceased was (or would have been had they still been alive today) at least 80 years of age. For example, the registration of someone who passed away in 1995 aged 60 can now be searched for as they would have been over 80 today.

Searches on the BDM website normally produces a year and a reference number of an event which can be used to obtain a full print-out or certificate. However by manipulating the search parameters, you can force the database to produce the actual date (day, month and year) that the event took place. Start by running a search that produces a BDM result of the name of someone you are interested in. Then gradually start to narrow the time-frame being searched for in the “Search from date” and the “Search to date” options. Start by narrowing the year; if the name suddenly disappears you will know the event is outside of the date parameters you have set. When a year is isolated, start to narrow the range of months being searched, again making sure the name you seek continues to result from a search, then do the same for the day within the month. When the “search from” and “search to” dates are exactly the same and the name you are looking for still results when a search is run, you know that you have isolated the exact date of the birth, death or marriage. Try it at BDM – Historical Records online


The New Zealand Gazette is a weekly publication of government proclamations and is a massive source of genealogical information. Published since the earliest days of the colony, the gazette holds information about land transfers, bankruptcy notices & business liquidations, military call-up lists, local council information and a huge wealth of other information. One of the most useful areas of the gazette for the family historian are the lists of names (and often addresses) of individuals applying for formal registration within certain occupations. Occupations which required registration include doctors, nurses, teachers, electricians, boilermakers, engine drivers, architects and any number of other roles including positions such as Justices of Peace. One of the issues with the NZ Gazette was that until recently it was very difficult to find any information about an individual without knowing the date a gazette “notice” was published. Today we have access to a searchable database containing all copies of the NZ Gazette from 1841 through to 2014. As the database is a commercial product, it is not available online but rather must be used on a computer set aside for family history purposes at the Central Library. Ask at the reference desk on the 2nd floor for details.

Family History Month is here

It’s August so it must be Family History Month 2016. Here in Wellington it’s a busy month as the Wellington Branch of the Society of Genealogists collaborate with the National Library of NZ to bring a number of events to the region. At Wellington City Libraries we will be featuring these events in blog posts and on our social media channels and highlighting a months worth of genealogy resources available at our libraries and linked to from our website. This post features ‘Probate Searches’, the “Who Do You Think You Are” DVD’s and the ‘Online Cenotaph’ as well as a couple of Wellington based genealogy events. On the second floor of Wellington Central Library you will also find a display of these genealogical resources.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Syndetics book coverWho do you think you are? : the essential guide to tracing your family history / Dan Waddell. “Published against a big multimedia TV event, this book is a jargon-free idiot’s guide to tracing your family history. Light in tone, sometimes funny, often moving, and aimed at absolutely everyone, the book combines both stats and pub facts, with very real emotions as people discover the heroes and villains in their family’s past. Rather than a dry ‘how to’ guide though, this book is inclusive, non-patronising and lively, and emphasises the human and emotional side to this popular pastime.” (Abridged syndetics summary)

In the long-running television series on DVD you can follow celebrities as they trace their family history – and along the way pick up lots of tips on genealogy research techniques and sources. As well as the original UK series, there are also versions from other countries including the USA and Australia. Drive through Yorkshire with Jeremy Clarkson as he investigates his roots, or share Nigella Lawson’s surprise at what she uncovers about her ancestors – each episode is both entertaining and instructive.

Here is the series that started it all:

Who do you think you are? UK series 1 [videorecording].
Ten of Britain’s best-loved celebrities embark on inspiring, emotional and personal journeys, taking us back in time and around the world as we see how their ancestors’ lives have shaped the world they live in. People include Bill Oddie, Amanda Redman,Jeremy Clarkson, Lesley Garrett and Vic Reeves.

Recommended events coming up this week:
Starting your family research: using technology to get it right.
Weds 3rd August 5:30pm
Connolly Hall – Guildford Terrace, Thorndon.
Mary Shadbolt : A case study showing how McDonnell forbears and living extended family were found using a range of electronic and other sources in NZ, Australia and throughout the world, starting with two original documents.
Hosted by Kilbirnie Branch of the NZ Society of Genealogists

Family History at the Turnbull Library
Weds 3rd August 10 am
National Library of NZ, cnr Molesworth and Aitken Streets
Introductory tour of the family history resources.
Bookings required, email

Probate Searches
To save you a trip to Archives New Zealand offices to view the originals, Family Search has collaborated with Archives to provide digitised images of NZ probates. NZ probate records for 1843-1998 are indexed and images are available for all but the last 50 years.
Probate records contain many types of documents including wills, affidavits, property records and death certificates. They are a goldmine of clues for genealogical research, including the death date and occupation of the person making the will, names of heirs, guardians and executors, relationships, residences, addresses of property owned, an inventory of the estate, and names of witnesses. Click here and then on the search page, click on ‘Learn more’ for tips on searching the NZ Probates collection and things to keep in mind about probates records.

The Online Cenotaph
The Online Cenotaph is a living memorial to those who served this country in times of international conflict. It is a biographical database, and information sources include the official nominal rolls and New Zealand Gazette notices, and in many cases there are links through to digitised personnel files held by Archives New Zealand. While digitised records are an important part of the database there is also the feature of the public being able to submit personal war experience stories, photos and information. There is also the chance to lay a virtual poppy beside the name of the person you are researching.


For more information on genealogy research, visit our Genealogy Popular Topic page.

Nursing our boys: a Kiwi aboard the first hospital ship

Nurses RegisterCharlotte (Lottie) Le Gallais is a distant relative of mine, who joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps. Her registration details can be found in the New Zealand Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933, from the Ancestry database (available in-library only. Check out our Genealogy page for further information). She was one of fourteen nursing sisters who were selected for the first voyage of Hospital Ship No. 1 (the ‘Maheno’), which left Wellington 10 July 1915, and was bound for Gallipoli.

Here is a photograph of the ship in the 14 July 1915 issue of The New Zealand Herald, retrieved for the PapersPast database accessible from our Newspapers and History database pages. The page is full of War-related articles, a year into the 4 year campaign. (Click on the image to enlarge)New Zealand Herald, July 14, 1915 SMALL

Lottie completed her voyage, and was posted to the retired list 21 June 1916. On her return to New Zealand, she married her fiancé, Charles Gardner, with whom she had two children. Lottie died in 1956.

Two of Lottie’s four brothers served in WWI – Leddra (Leddie), who was killed in action at Gallipoli 23 July 1915, and Owen, who fought in France, and survived the war to return home.

A book was written about Lottie, and this is in our collections:

Lottie: Gallipoli Nuse coverLottie : Gallipoli nurse / text by John Lockyer ; illustrations by Alan Barnett.
“An extraordinary account of a nurse’s journey to Gallipoli aboard the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno. Her experiences include caring for the wounded and coping with the death of her brother Leddie, who was killed in action. Based on the letters of Lottie and Leddie Le Gallais and the war diary of John Duder.” (Syndetics summary)

Other titles

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses / Peter Rees.
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. Profoundly moving, this is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognized in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.” (Syndetics summary)

White Ships coverThe white ships : New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships / Gavin McLean.
“In 1915 the government chartered the trans-Tasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, they travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses. Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these ‘mercy ships’ and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries.” (Syndetics summary)

Rauemi: Ko wai tō ingoa? / What’s your name?

Tēnā koutou! Nau mai, welcome to the first Rauemi blog post. This blog series looks at different resources, highlighting new, useful or unusual sources of Māori information.

A lot of people ask us at the wharepukapuka for help researching their family tree or their whakapapa. We have many nifty resources at the library; some stowed away at our information desks, some on the public shelves, and some available through our website. Here are just three rauemi (resources) that might help you in looking up names for your whakapapa – whether for places, people or objects.

An amazing rauemi available online is the Fletcher index of Māori names. This can be found through our Māori website Rauemi page, under the “History” header. The Fletcher 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. It was Fletcher’s greatest piece of work, and one that merited improved access.” (from website). It has searchable, browsable access to a wide range of pre- and post-Pākehā names of people, places, and more, and provides the details of where those names are found in other sources. This makes it an excellent resource for finding a name’s provenance, or discovering new contexts and information about a name or place previously unknown.

A second rauemi available on the internet is this page of Pakeha (European) / Māori Transliterations. A common raru (problem) in trying to research whakapapa is that, particularly in older records, people could be known, recorded, and written about by more than one version of their name. This is where the Transileration page comes in. This page lists an amazing variety of Māori names with their reo Ingarihi (English) transliterations, and also English names and their Māori transliterations, and is searchable both ways. It also includes a huge number of Māori transliterations of Biblical names, which were very popular in early colonial times. For example, the Pākehā missionary William Colenso was known as “Colenso”, “Koroneho”, “Koreneho”, “Te Koreneho” and “Te Koroneho” formally, and “Neho” colloquially. Searching for just one of these names might bring up only a fraction of the material available for this person under his other names, and without knowing the transliteration, you might never find that data. Now, due to the handy magic of transliteration lists, your searching might become a little broader, and a little easier.

And finally, one from our shelves. If you’re looking for more information on Māori names for places, look no further than A. W. Reed’s dictionary of the same, Illustrated Māori Place Names, for a comprehensive etymology of places around Aotearoa.

Syndetics book coverIllustrated Maori place names / A.W. Reed

What’s in a name? It really all depends on the name – and I hope these rauemi might help you discover more about the names that mean something to your whakapapa or research.

Rachel Dawick returns to Wellington


Unfortunately Rachel’s lunchtime performance today at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea has had to be cancelled. We hope Rachel will be able to reschedule at a later date and will keep you posted as and when we hear more.

Rachel DawickNew Zealand singer and songwriter Rachel Dawick is back in Wellington on the second stage of her ‘Follow My Tears’ tour, and will give a free performance celebrating the lives of women in 1800s New Zealand this Friday at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea

Rachel visited Wellington City Libraries back in May and gave us two beautiful performances, capturing women’s stories with “a slice of folk, a dash of blues and a bit of country with a twist”.  This time Rachel is collecting stories of women’s lives from 1893 to WWII as she cycles(!) through New Zealand and raises funds for Christchurch Women’s Refuge along the way.

Come to the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, 12.30pm Friday 11 November, to hear Rachel and maybe bring along a story or two of your own.  Entry is free.

Ancestry in August talks are underway

Gábor Tóth, local history specialist at Wellington City Libraries, talking about resources for genealogy research
Gábor Tóth, local history specialist at Wellington City Libraries, talking about resources for genealogy research

Family History Month is underway and it was great to see so many people at our first lunchtime seminar on Tuesday who were interested in finding out more about using library resources to help with their genealogical research.

Our second free Ancestry in August talk this Tuesday (9th August, 12 noon – 1pm at Central Library) will be given by Emerson Vandy, Digital Services Manager of the National Library of  New Zealand.  Emerson will be talking about Papers Past, a popular database run by the National Library, which has opened up a huge new source of source of genealogical information for researching family history in New Zealand.   The collection of digitised newspapers and periodicals covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 68 publications from all regions of New Zealand.  You can use and search Papers Past for free on our computers at any of our branch libraries or from anywhere you have internet access.

Papers Past have just published their two-millionth page and to celebrate this landmark they are holding a competition called “Find yourself in the past/Lose yourself in the papers”.  To enter simply search Papers Past for your name and find the most interesting match for your namesake.  All entries go in the draw to win a Kobo e-book reader – click on the competition link for more details.

Ancestry in August – free genealogy talks at Central Library

To celebrate Family History Month, Wellington City Libraries is holding a series of lunchtime talks for anyone interested in learning more about researching their family tree. Come along to Central Library and join us on the 2nd (top) floor at lunchtime on Tuesdays in August to learn more. All the sessions are free and there’s no need to book – just turn up on the day.

blog-posterAn Introduction to Genealogy at Wellington City Libraries
Tuesday 2nd August, 12noon-1pm

Gábor Tóth and Jessica Berg take you through some of the resources available to begin your family history research and help explain their strengths and weaknesses. The talk will include an overview of the library edition of, a powerful new database which is free to use at any Wellington City library branch.

Papers Past: a guide to the database and its use in genealogy
Tuesday 9th August, 12noon-1pm
Emerson Vandy, Digital Services Manager of the National Library of New Zealand, will introduce this database which has opened up a huge new source of genealogical information for researching family history in New Zealand up to 1945.

Finding your Whakapapa: an introduction to Maori genealogy
Tuesday 16 August, 12noon-1pm
Presented by Brenda Joyce from the Maori Interest Group of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, this talk will help explain some of the intricacies associated with researching Maori family history.

BDM and Beyond: a guide to official records and more
Tuesday 23 August, 12noon-1pm
Jessica Berg from Wellington City Libraries presents an overview of using official birth, death and marriage records, including related records to help you find the next link in your family history.

Wellington Local History Resources: an introduction to Wellington-specific resources and their use
Tuesday 30 August, 12noon-1pm
Gábor Tóth, local history specialist at Wellington City Libraries, will give an overview of some of the lesser known sources of information which can be used to research ancestors who may have lived within Wellington.

If you have any queries about these seminars, please contact Gábor Tóth, phone 803-8572

ancestry poster

Rachel Dawick – free live performances at Central & Kilbirnie libraries

follow my tears eventOn Wednesday 18 May, Wellington City Libraries is delighted to have New Zealand singer/songwriter Rachel Dawick give two free live performances as part of her “Follow My Tears” tour. Rachel will perform at:
Central Library (65 Victoria Street) – 12-1pm
Ruth Gotlieb Library, Kilbirnie – 3.30-4.30pm

For 60 days Rachel will be touring New Zealand performing and collecting stories of New Zealand women in the 1800s on her journey.

“Researching into the songs written in the 1800s in NZ revealed a large gap in terms of those by women. It was a musical history dominated by men and therefore providing only half a story. If there weren’t the songs then the next best thing would be to discover the stories and write the songs myself.”
Rachel Dawick.

Want to have a listen before the event? Check out Rachel’s previous albums in our catalogue.

nzmmFor more information on Rachel Dawick:

For more information about the “Follow My Tears” tour:

Supported by Creative NZ, Wellington City Libraries, The Interislander Ferry and Radio New Zealand.

follow my tears events

Wanted: Stories of New Zealand women 1820 to 1890

Follow my tears posterDo you have stories of women in your family who lived in New Zealand in the 1800’s?  If so, we want to hear from you!
New Zealand singer-songwriter Rachel Dawick is collecting stories from all over New Zealand, which will then be used to create a new album of songs and a national resource for libraries.

“Researching into the songs written in the 1800s in NZ revealed a large gap in terms of those by women. It was a musical history dominated by men and therefore providing only half a story. If there weren’t the songs then the next best thing would be to discover the stories and write the songs myself.”
Rachel Dawick.

Write down the stories and drop them into your local Wellington City Libraries branch by 18 May or email them to us at
with  ‘Rachel Dawick Stories’ in the subject line. Please note that stories provided to us are unable to be returned.

nzmmFrom 14 April – 14 June, Rachel will also be travelling throughout New Zealand, performing in local libraries, while she collects the stories.

You will get your chance to see Rachel perform in Wellington when she will be giving two free live performances on Wednesday 18 May at Central Library (12-1pm) and Ruth Gotlieb Library, Kilbirnie (3.30-4.30pm).

Want to have a listen before the event?  Check out Rachel’s previous albums on our catalogue, or listen to an interview with her via RadioNZ.

follow my tears events

ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.
For other blog entries on genealogy, click on the tag “genealogy” at the bottom of this post.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC day – 25th April – as a national day of remembrance to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Did you have a relative who took part in WW1? Would you like to read their Military Personnel Record?

Military records can provide amazing details for genealogists, especially ages and places of birth, while they can also expand family histories with information about campaigns, conduct and even physical descriptions of ancestors.

Continue reading “ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past”