Police Gazettes


New Zealand Police Gazettes were published weekly from 1861 to 1990. They were distributed to police stations throughout the country to disseminate information relating to the daily work of police and prison officials.


As well as describing crimes and criminals, Police Gazettes publicise missing persons, deserters from ships, absconding husbands and school pupils, and unsolved crimes. From the 1860s occasional lists of Police appointments, promotions and dismissals are included. These are regular columns from the 1900s and include hundreds of names per year.

From the late 1970s the Police Gazettes become like other government department gazettes, recording Police appointments, promotions, etc. There are Photograph Supplements of prisoner photos and a summary of their alleged crimes.

Existing Police Gazettes

From 1861 to 1876 the only extant Police Gazettes are provincial ones for Otago and Canterbury (including the West Coast of the South Island). From 1877 to 1990 Police Gazettes are for the whole country.


From 1877 Police Gazettes are fully indexed, apart from police appointments which are only partially indexed.


For 1908-1914 the Gazettes include photographs of discharged prisoners.  From 1915 to 1990 photographs (indexed) of prisoners in custody are included as well as those discharged. There is not a photograph for every prisoner.


All Police Gazettes 70 years old and over are open.  Permission to access information in later gazettes must be obtained from:

The Commissioner of Police

Office of the Commissioner

PO Box 3017

Wellington 6160

Auckland Office


Wellington Office

Christchurch Office

Dunedin Office

Police Gazette Categories

Information is organised into two categories:

In the late 1950s returns were abandoned and all entries were reduced to paragraph format.


Tables of information include person’s name, where and when tried, offence, sentence, nationality, height, complexion, hair and eye colour, and remarks on distinguishing features and previous convictions.

Paragraph Summaries

These include name and physical description of the person (often much detail on clothing), a brief description of the offence/incident, and where it occurred.  Events involving unidentified persons are also included.