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
- Police Gazettes 1877-1940s [BBAN 5803/1a-5803/64a]
- Police Gazettes 1941-1987 [BBAN 5803/65a-144a] separate photograph supplements from 1951
- Gazette: September-December 1976
- Photographs: August-December 1981 & July-December 1983
- Otago Police Gazette 1861-1877 Vol.1-8[(ACIS 17653) P 12 3/3–5/10]
- Canterbury Police Gazette 1863-1877 (including West Coast)[(ACIS 17653) P12 1/1-2/2]
- Police Gazette 1877-1922 [(ACIS 17653) P12 6/11-43/56]
- Police Gazette 1923-1930 [(ACIS 17653) P12 W2653/44-49]
- Police Gazette 1931-1977 [AAZC W2542/56-119]
- Police Gazette 1976-1981 (photo supplements) R [AAZC W4928/56-60]
- Police Gazette 1982-1991 R [AAAJ 5803 W5609/119-132]
- Police Gazette Photographs 1982 R [AAAJ 5803 W5609/164]
- Police Gazette 1983-1988 (photo supplements) R [AAZC W4928/62-65]
- Canterbury Police Gazette 1875-1876 [CAHZ CH66/1]
- Police Gazette 1877-1899 [CAHZ CH66/1]
- Police Gazette 1894-1939 [CAIA CH37/1-7]
- Police Gazette 1940-1978 R [CAIA CH37/8-26]
- Police Gazette Photographs 1951-1978 R [CAIA CH37/26-30]
- Police Gazette 1877-1878, 1880-1889, 1895, 1897 [DABS D77/1a-o]
- Police Gazette 1900-19, 1928-1929 [DACL D396/39a-48]
- Police Gazette – Prisoner Photographs 1908-1921 [DACL D396/49]
Police Gazette Categories
Information is organised into two categories:
- tables of returns which give detailed information on each person/charge/incident
- paragraphs which contain summary information on the person/charge/incident.
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.
- Return of Prisoners Discharged from Gaols
- Return of Persons Summarily Convicted at Magistrates Courts but not sent to Gaol
- Return of Persons Dealt with at Supreme Courts
- Returns of Watches and Bicycles Reported Stolen. These provide detailed descriptions of the watch or bicycle and the events surrounding their theft.
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.
- Absconding from Industrial Schools/State Institutions
- Apprehensions, Persons Found etc
- Deserters from Merchant Vessels/Deserters from His/Her Majesty’s Service
- Deserting Wives and Families
- Escaped Prisoners
- Extracts from Australian Police Gazettes
- Forgery and Uttering
- General Instructions (content guide for Police Gazettes, Court Sittings, Police Appointments)
- Horse and Cattle Stealing
- House Breaking and Stealing from Dwelling Houses and Persons
- Incendiarism (arson)
- Inquests (often on unidentified bodies)
- Miscellaneous (everything from Police Appointments to sly grogging)
- Missing Friends
- Murder/Child Murder
- Offences Not Otherwise Described (abduction, theft, embezzlements etc)
- Persons Wanted
- Property Stolen/Recovered
- Sacrilege (eg vandalising a church)
- Special Inquiry
- Stealing otherwise than from Person or Dwelling
- Stolen Goods
- Unexecuted warrants