Incorporated Societies


Records of Incorporated Societies held at Archives New Zealand document the social, cultural and recreational interests of New Zealanders from 1908 onwards. This guide outlines the various holdings of Incorporated Society records held at Archives New Zealand.

The records detailed in this guide were created by the Companies Office and Commercial Affairs Division Registrars offices throughout New Zealand.

The information provided relates solely to historical records of the regulation of Incorporated Societies.  For current information on Incorporated Societies visit Societies and Trusts online:


The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 established the registration and regulation of Incorporated Societies throughout New Zealand. Records held reflect the reporting and regulation required by the Act. As Incorporated Societies are private organisations, Archives New Zealand does not hold their private records.

Any private organisation or group consisting of at least 15 members could apply to be registered as an Incorporated Society. Records of Incorporated Societies therefore reflect a variety of private associations with Sporting, Cultural, Advocacy and other interests.

One of the few restrictions placed on Incorporated Societies was that the group could not operate for the financial gain of its constituent members.

The main advantage of registration was that Incorporation offered the individual members protection from debts and obligations accrued by the society. Incorporation also allowed the Society to acquire assets and enter into contracts in its own right.

The Records

The records vary slightly by region but individual files of Incorporated Societies, if they exist, often include:

The organisation of the records often varied by date and region. Some Incorporated Society files are in a dedicated series; other files of the same type are within a broader collection of Dead Company Files.

Where individual files have not survived it may be necessary to use a register. Some registers recording Incorporated Societies pre date the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. It is likely that these entries were created in 1908, backdated to the founding of the society.

The New Zealand Gazette

When an Incorporated Society was struck off the register a notice to that effect was printed in The New Zealand Gazette. A searchable index to historic editions of The New Zealand Gazette can be accessed in the Archives New Zealand Reading Room


Many Incorporated Society files are mixed with Company files, but they can usually be found through ARCHWAY name searches.

Auckland Office:

Closed company files 1860-1994 [BADZ 5181/1-15426] (some Incorporated Society files from 1989 onwards)

National Company files 1862-2002 [BBNZ 21462]

(include Incorporated Society files c1989-2002)

Closed Incorporated Societies Files c1896- c1989 [BADZ 5579/1-149]

Incorporated Societies Guttings 1896-1965 (material removed from series 5579 records) [BADZ  5599/1-107]

Register of Incorporated Societies 1896-1935 [BAEA 5604/1]

Card Index to Dead Company and Incorporated society files c1940-1980 [BBNZ 20094/1-90]

Hamilton Incorporated Society Files 1905-1989 [BAYT/ 10438/1-124]

Hamilton Company registration (with some Incorporated Society) files 1895-2001 [BAYT 21463 A1608/493-772; A1638/111-215]

Hamilton Incorporated Society Files - Single Number 1984-1989 (mostly records from series 10438) [BAYT 18860/1-123]

Gisborne Dissolved Incorporated societies 1904-1990 [BANF 5706/1-40]

Incorporated Societies Single Number systems (Gisborne) 1983-1990 [BANF 5756/1-2]

Wellington Office:

Most files relate to Incorporated Societies in the lower North Island.

Incorporated Societies Dead Index [AABR 534 W2798/1-7]

Incorporated Societies Live Index [AABR 533 W2798/1-20]

Index to Register of Incorporated Societies 1915-1923 [CO-W W298/60]

Register of Incorporated Societies 1915-1923 [CO-W W298/60]

Register of Incorporated Societies 1896-1914 [AAWF 6814 W4558/1]

Closed files – Incorporated societies (and others) c1900 – 1967 [CO-W2/1-18]

Closed Company files 1913-1994 [AATJ 20338 W5584]

Incorporated Society files (mixed with Closed Company files) Napier Region 1908-1998 [AATJ 20339/338-457]

Closed Incorporations Files (Napier registry) to 1988 [ACCC 7605 W5010/233-242]

Nelson Incorporated Societies Register 1898-1955 [CBAT 8870 W5731/9]

Commercial Affairs Division files 1948-1991 [AAWF W4159/1-93]

Microfiche of Index to companies and Incorporated bodies (original index not held) [AAWF W4512/1]

Christchurch Office:

Canterbury Dead Company Files c1910-1999 [CAMO 2984]

Dunedin Office:

Defunct Company and Incorporated Society Files 1896-1998 [DAAA 9055]

Otago and Southland closed Company Files 1930-1999 [AATJ 20565]

Register of Incorporated Societies 1896-1961 [DAAA D2/109]

Invercargill Annual Single Number files [DAIM 9144 D339/303-316]

Invercargill National Number Incorporated Society Files 1890-1996 [DAIM 9145 D339/303-318]

Invercargill Register of Incorporated Societies 1896-1952 [DAIM 9149 D339/325]

Invercargill National Number Incorporated Society Register Sheets 1951-1985 [DAIM 9151 D339/326]

Further Records

As legal entities, Incorporated Societies can feature in a variety of other records, including Court proceedings, records of public submissions and subject and policy files of various Government Departments. Many of these other records can be found by ARCHWAY searches.