The dedication and commitment of two volunteers, Bill and Glenys Chadderton, has resulted in the digitisation of all the Shipping Lists held by Archives New Zealand.
In November the Chaddertons, representing FamilySearch the largest genealogical organisation in the world, completed the job of digitising some 270,000 Shipping List pages.
The couple have spent nearly 15 months away from their home in Kihikihi to digitise the records which from early next year will be available online to people worldwide. Having the documents online means anyone with an interest in people immigrating to New Zealand can do their research from their own homes.
Digitising the lists had been an opportunity to see the history of New Zealand revealed and they particularly enjoyed finding out information about their own families, the pair said. There were some sad stories, some touching ones and some exciting ones.
The pair acknowledged departmental staff for their support and gave special thanks to conservator Steve Williams who also gave up his own time to prepare the lists for digitisation.
Acting Chief Executive Greg Goulding said the significance of the project will be its impact of those outside Archives New Zealand. He thanked the couple for their generosity of spirit saying they had provided the department with a platform for providing access to these valuable archives.
Until the mid 1970s, most people living in New Zealand were either born here or arrived by ship so the records are of particularly significance and value. Some eight million names appear on the shipping lists which span 132 years from 1840 to 1972. The lists record the names and details of people who came to New Zealand on assisted passages.
Currently the lists are being transcribed and indexed by a pool of 2000,000 volunteers worldwide. From early next year they will start to be available on both the FamilySearch and Archives New Zealand websites.