Census-Type Records


Archives New Zealand holds very little in the way of census records and most of what is held dates from the 19th century.  None is in the comprehensive form of the British censuses available online.

Individual and household records, as collected in New Zealand’s censuses, are held by Statistics New Zealand if they exist, and access is restricted. Many in the past were destroyed.

The focus here is on what may be called ‘census-type’ records, which place individuals at specific times in particular locations. Many such records at Archives New Zealand relate to Maori. Statistical and numerical data with no names have been excluded as have most Maori whakapapa records.

Early Pakeha

North Auckland

JR Clendon’s Census of the Far North 1846 (Typescript from Clendon’s Journal, with index of names and transcriptions of entries, organised by place – Europeans and half castes only.) [MISC 56/1]


Return of all the Houses, Cottages and Warries with the names of their owners and principal occupiers 1845 [IA 1 1845/1939; Microfilm 3630, 5070; Repro 70]

New Plymouth

A List of Houses, Cottages and Warries in…New Plymouth with the names of the Proprietors and Occupiers 1846 [IA 1 1846/153; Micro 3630; Repro 71]

Statistics – Census – 1843 and 1847 (only names are in Register of Deaths 1847 & Register of Deaths in Wellington District since the foundation of the colony) [NZC 131 3/15]


Census Returns January 1845 [SSD 3 1/1; Micro 3632; Repro 56]

Nelson Returns for the year 1849 [SSD 3/2 Part 1; Micro 6892]

List of Common Jurors in Miscellaneous Documents – District Court – 24 February 1892 (name, residence, occupation – 36 names) [JC-N 46/1 6]

Pacific Islands

Some Pacific Islands were surveyed in 1950 as part of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s World Census of Agriculture.  Most forms give names of heads of families only, usually by village; numbers of dependents, land utilization, food and agriculture.  Maps included with some forms. Access restrictions.

Census Forms – Rarotonga 1950 [IT 7 2/3 – 5/7]

Census Forms – Mauke 1950 [IT 7 6/11]

Census Forms – Manihiki 1950 [IT 7 6/12]

Census Forms – Atiu 1950 [IT 7 6/13]

Census Forms – Danger Island (Puka Puka) 1950 [IT 7 7/14]

Census Forms – Magaia 1950 [IT 7 6/15]

Census Forms – Penrhyn 1950  [IT 7 6/16]

Census Forms – Niue 1950 [IT 7 6/17]


Various lists of Maori and where they lived, often labelled ‘census’, were gathered, especially in the 19th century.


Tribal Census of Te Aro 1842 (list of males, females and children in the area) [NZC 3/2 pp192-200]

‘Census of the native population in the district of Port Nicholson corrected up to the first of July 1842’ in Edmund Halswell, Protector of Aborigines for the Southern District, to Colonial Secretary [IA 1 1842/1299]

(Organised by pa: Waiwetu, Pitoni, Ngauranga, Kaiwarawara, Pipetea, Kumutoto, Te Aro {Taranaki, Ngatiruanui}.  Gives names of men, women & children.)

Census of Native Population within the District of Port Nicholson 1850 [NM 8 (Box 40) 1850/283]

Aparima (Riverton) Census 1852 (copy) in Murihiku Block Aparima Reserve – The papers of Horomona Paatu, Special File No. 16 [MA 13 31/20a]

Register of Chiefs c1865 (by district, most North Island, with Pakeha views of chiefs) [MA 23 15/25]

Census of Native Population, 1868, in Schedule of Native Reserves in the South Island, etc, pp63-96 (South Island and Stewart Island, names organised by place). [MA-MT 6 19/1]

Maori Census etc c1874 (Handwritten lists by kainga and other papers) [MA-WANG 4 (Box 1) 2]

East Coast District Tribal Register (includes index) 1878 (organised by tribe, then sub-tribe and place) [MA 23 16/26]

South Island Census of Maori Landholders c1879

Part 1 MA 67 8/13a Part 1; Micro 6505]

Part 3 [MA 67 9/13b Part 3; Micro 6505]

(Part 2, for Otago-Southland, is not held.)

Maori Census 1881 (information collected to help identify entitlement to land; actual census sheets included) [MA 23 12/17]

Returns of Natives and half-castes in the South Island: those owning over 50 acres, those unprovided with land (Schedule F), those insufficiently provided with land (Schedule G) ?1891 [MA 72 1/5]

Maori Census 1901, 1906, 1911 (correspondence but often detail about local work for the census) [MA 23 13/18]

MA 13 Boxes 19-21

These files contain a huge variety of lists of people in places, mostly ‘half castes’, relating to those who have land and those who claim land, from 1848 to the later 19th century. For example:

New Munster

Return of Native Population Wairarapa 1849 (Lists iwi, pa, 16 principal chiefs/rangatira) [NM 8/35 1849/186]

Return of Native Population Whanganui River 1851 (Lists pa, iwi/hapu, principal chiefs/rangatira, teachers) [NM 8/45 1851/284]

Chatham Islands

Census of Maori and Moriori 1864 (in Te Reo; compiled by Captain William Esdaile Thomas; arranged by district; gives names and hapu) [ABGP 7532 W4900/1; Repro 1751]

Legislative Department

Accounts and Papers - Schedule of Accounts and Papers laid upon table - Crown Grants issued to middle island half-castes 1882 [LE 1/200 1882/109 215]

Lands & Survey / LINZ

South Island Landless Natives Claims Register 1889-1917 [ABWN 8923 W5278/88]

South Island Landless Natives – Alphabetical List of Owners 1895 [ABWN 8923 W5278/1]

Native Land Register South Island Landless Natives c1900 [ABWN 8923 W5278/87]

List of Awards to Landless Natives in the Middle Island 1902-1930 (district, name, abode) [ABWN 8923 W5278/66 221.1 & 221.2]

South Island Landless Natives (includes many printed lists 1908) [LS 1 /1365 39882]

Other ‘Landless Natives’

Other files relating to ‘landless natives’ include names and place information, scattered through files which contain no real lists.  An ARCHWAY search for ‘landless native’ will find such records.



Petitions can tie a person, place and date together.

The Women’s Suffrage Petition 1893 is one such record, with the names of over 24000 New Zealanders, mostly women, though place may be vague.

An even larger Petition is No.239, 1932, ‘that the Treaty of Waitangi be made Statutory’, presented by Eruera Tirikatene on behalf of TW Ratana and tens of thousands of others. [LE 1 (Boxes 997-999) 1932/10; Repro 1750]

Petitions are to be found in the AJHR and in the records of the Legislative Department.

AJHR (Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives)

Various lists may be found, especially in the later 19th century, for example:

Return of members of the Ngaitahu Tribe residing in the Southern Provinces of the South Island and elsewhere in March 1891  AJHR 1892 G-1

(Comprehensive lists, roughly alphabetical, organised by place.  Ages over or under 14.)

Electoral Rolls

Electoral Rolls, mostly created at three yearly intervals, place individuals in a particular place (often specific addresses are given) at the time the roll was created.  Microfiche copies are available at the National Library and through the New Zealand Society of Genealogists.

Telephone Books

Archives New Zealand in Wellington holds area telephone books from throughout New Zealand (see Personal Identity Research Guide). For some places the books begin in 1909 and all continue to 1988.  The early books do not usually list exact street addresses. [AAMF 7580 W3327]