Search catalogue
Search website Search

Puna Tātai

Genealogy Resources

Resources for genealogy and whakapapa research.

Genealogy resources | Whakapapa Discovery guide | Genealogy at the library | Heather McLean bequest

Genealogists resources 

Researching your family tree and don’t know where else to look to find missing ancestors?

Our Heritage and Research team can assist you with our family history research resources. 

Visit us at He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research at Te Ao Mārama - Tauranga Library to make use of our vast selection of genealogy resources listed below.


Research books

Family History Reference Collection

  • Research Guides, shipping, map books, directories, Burke’s Peerage and dictionaries of surnames.

Reference Collection

  • Local histories, family histories, official war histories, school jubilee publications, biographies; Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: the latest (1990-2000) and Scholefield (1940); Who’s Who in New Zealand, Tauranga Photo News 1962-1970.


  • New Zealand Genealogist
  • Family Tree (UK and NZ versions)
  • Practical Family History
  • Family History Monthly
  • The Volunteers (Military history)
  • Tauranga Historical Society Journal
  • Historical Review (Whakatāne Historical Society)
  • Ohinemuri Historical Society Journal

There are many useful journals – this is just a selection

New Zealand Directories

  • Tauranga Burgess Rolls 1886 – 1891; 1893 – 1900
  • Local electoral rolls for Tauranga  
  • Parliamentary electoral rolls for New Zealand: microfilm 1854 to early 1900s, 1941, 1949; microfiche 1898 – 1938, 1943, 1946, 1954 – 81; hard copy 1984 to the latest version
  • Wises: microfiche 1866 – 1955; hard copy 1911, 1939, 1956, 1957, 1958
  • Wises Te Puke 1892 – 1951; Te Puna 1910 – 1951; Maketu 1910 – 1925; Katikati 1891 – 1951
  • A selection of hard copy directories for the 19th and 20th centuries for different regions of New Zealand.
  • Current New Zealand wide telephone books
  • Historic Bay of Plenty telephone directories
  • Māori Reference Collection including family reunions, Waitangi Tribunal reports, Raupatu document bank, Tauranga Māori Land Court minute books.


Not everything is online!

  • New Zealand births/deaths/marriages index 1840-1990
  • Māori births/deaths 1913-1960
  • Māori marriages 1911-1951
  • Births/deaths/marriages from provincial newspapers and church records
  • Directories and provincial rolls
  • Accidents, obituaries, biographies, wills
  • Bankruptcies
  • Cemetery transcripts
  • Citizenship/naturalisations
  • Government – miscellaneous
  • Māori land claims 1855-1955
  • Military – miscellaneous including war deaths in both World Wars
  • Patents 1860-1890
  • Religion – officiating ministers 1848-1900
  • Settlers and land – Canterbury, Otago, Taranaki
  • Shipping – Comber Index, etc.
  • Turnbull Biographies Index
  • Women named in the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand
  • Pre-1900 families index
  • IGI New Zealand
  • IGI England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Pacific Islands
  • Australia: Victoria births/marriages 1853-1913, deaths 1853-1960; New South Wales births/deaths/marriages pre 1856-1905; South Australia, Northern Territories, Tasmania miscellaneous

Student researching on computer


  • Electoral rolls, newspapers, Archdeacon Brown’s papers
  • New Zealand Woman’s Weekly 
  • Te Puke Times 1913-1975
  • Daily Southern Cross 1861-1876

Electronic Information

  • The library subscribes to,, MyHeritage. These are all freely accessible on Public PCs in our library and in He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research.
  • The Research PCs in He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research contain Early Auckland Births & Deaths; BDMs from The New Zealander, Gallipoli; NZ Marriages; NZ Burial Locator; Tauranga Burials and Cremations; NZ Society of Genealogists’ Index; and other resources. 

Pae Korokī 

Discover the diverse and unique stories of Tauranga Moana, our digitised archives, maps, images and publications: Pae Korokī.

Tauranga archives online

Resources available by appointment:

  • Archives and manuscripts, Unique unpublished material. Diaries, letters, and other records of Bay of Plenty families, businesses, churches, clubs and organisations.
  • Archdeacon Brown’s original papers (The Elms Collection – microfilms and typescripts available for access/viewing).
  • Sladden collection and rare material, including all volumes of the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand (1897)
  • Munro collection
  • Maps and charts - Tauranga and districts from 1865, Tauranga harbour and other New Zealand charts from mid-1800s, Pacific voyages and early explorers
  • Photographs
  • Hard copy newspapers, including:
    • Te Puke Times 1976 to date
    • Bay of Plenty Mirror 1972-1974
    • Tauranga Argus and Tauranga Record 1866-1868
    •  Bay Sun 1975-1988
    •  Katikati Advertiser 1969 to date
    •  Mount and Papamoa Times 1990-2001
    •  Bay News 1991 to date
    •  Weekend Sun 2001 to date

resources available

Full access available at your library

  • Find My Past
    Search through billions of family history records from across the globe, including birth, marriage and death records, census records, military records, historical newspapers and lots more. 
    Trace your family history across billions of records, including census, vital, military and immigration records from the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
  • MyHeritage Library Edition
    The MyHeritage database includes birth, death and marriage records from 48 countries, the complete U.S. and U.K. censuses, immigration, military and tombstone records and more than 3 billion family tree profiles.

Related Information

  • Tauranga City Council Online Cemeteries Database
    Information regarding burial locations for all six cemeteries operated by Tauranga City Council; however it does not include Mission Cemetery or Māori burial grounds information.
  • Archives New Zealand  
    Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga is the official guardian of New Zealand’s public archives.
  • Papers Past
    Digitised NZ newspapers, letters, diaries, magazines and parliamentary papers from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Family Search
    Images and index of ship passenger lists from 1839 – 1973.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Census Records
    US Census Records and general information around what these records can reveal about your family history.
  • NZ Society of Genealogists
    Assistance for people wishing to compile family histories from sources in NZ and overseas.

Family History Charts

Return to top

Whakapapa discovery guide

We have a number of resources to assist you in your journey to discover your whakapapa.

Books you can borrow

  • 928 ROBE Layer upon layer: whakapapa by Roberts, Jude
  • 929.1 JOYC Whakapapa: an introduction to researching Māori and Pakeha families, their history, heritage, and culture by Joyce, Brenda
  • 929.393 BROM Tracing family history in New Zealand by Bromell, Anne

Books in our non-lending reference collection

The Māori reference collection includes family reunions, Waitangi Tribunal reports, Raupatu document bank and Tauranga Māori Land Court minute books.

  • FH929.1 JOYC Whakapapa: an introduction to Māori family history research by Joyce, Brenda

Māori Land Court minute books (MLCMBI)

A useful resource if you are looking for information about Māori land, your whakapapa and hapū is the  Māori Land Court minute books index. The index helps to let you know what minute book is needed for you to access the full text. The index covers all seven Māori Land Court districts - Taitokerau, Waikato-Maniapoto, Waiariki, Tāirawhiti, Tākitimu, Aotea and Te Waipounamu. The University of Auckland provides access to this index on its Website, and provides advice on how to search it under the About tab. He Puna Wānanga has bound photocopies of most of the Tauranga minute books, but does not have it on microfilm.  

The two closest locations that hold a full set of Māori Land Court minute books can be found at: Rotorua Māori Land Court and Waikato University.

Archives New Zealand

The records held at Archives New Zealand date back from as early as 1835 and include important documents such as the Declaration of Independence of the Northern Chiefs and the Treaty of Waitangi. They also include more general records which can contain a wealth of information concerning whakapapa.  
Archives New Zealand Personal Identity Guide

Māori voter and electoral rolls

Māori voter rolls for 1908 and Māori electoral rolls for 1919 are contained in this database. Those listed in the voter rolls are men and women of half or more Māori descent over 21 years of age. Because it was not compulsory for Māori to register before the 1908 election, this roll is a list of those who voted rather than those who registered as electors. In 1919 electoral rolls were compiled prior to the election to determine the names of all eligible individuals. Before 1919, the only Māori voter rolls to have survived are those of 1908 for the northern, western, and eastern districts.

Surnames were generally unknown until European settlement. If a European surname was taken it could be recorded either in the European spelling or in a transliterated Māori version (such as Dickson - Rikihana, Stephens - Tipene, Webster - Wepiha).
Search on or visit the library for full access for free on our computers.

Adoption records

Access to adoption records is restricted.

Most records are held by the central registry of births, deaths and marriages. Researchers are advised to work through the adoption information and services unit of Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children.

Finding your birth family

Māori Land Court and adoption:

The Māori Land Court was empowered to make adoption orders and these may be recorded in the minute books. If a reference to an adoption is located in a Māori Land Court minute book, researchers will then need to contact the Māori Land Court district office, where the actual adoption records are held. Refer to Māori Land Court minute books (MLCMBI)

Māori Affairs Department and Adoption:

The archives of the Māori Affairs Department contain some records of Māori adoptions. Access to these records is restricted for privacy reasons. However, notifications of adoption were also published in the New Zealand Gazette from 1902 to 1956. Copies available for viewing in He Puna Wānanga.

Birth, death and marriage records

Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages has only been compulsory for Māori since 1911 (marriages) and 1913 (births and deaths). Before these dates, church registers may contain records of some Māori births, deaths and marriages.

After these dates, complete registers are held by the Department of Internal Affairs central registry of births, deaths and marriages.

Probate and other estate records

Māori Land Court and Māori Trustee records

If a will cannot be located using the general probate registers, it may be worth searching Māori Land Court and Māori Trustee records as the wills of Māori were sometimes probated through these departments. However, as with adoption records, although a reference to a probate may appear in the minute books, the actual probates are held by the Māori Land Court District Offices. The records of the Māori Trustee also include some probate and succession files, including a number of files which relate to deceased estates from the 1930s to the 1980s. [AAMK 869 11/-]. Access to these records is restricted for 40 years from the date of file closure, or for 100 years from the date of the person’s birth (whichever is longer). For access to restricted files contact Te Puni Kōkiri.

Native succession order registers

Native succession order registers 1911-1964 are another possible source of information. These are located in the archives of the Inland Revenue department and record payment of succession duties by successors or inheritors after a death. [AAEC 659/1-20]

Name indexes are located at the front of the volumes, and indexes have been created for the volumes (1920-1926) which do not have their own. [AAEC 658/1 & 2]

Pre-1920 registers are open. However, access to post-1921 registers is restricted under section 13 of the Inland Revenue Act 1974. Archives New Zealand personal identity guide

Census records

Archives New Zealand does not hold official census records, most of which have been destroyed. However, particularly in the nineteenth century, a number of government departments took censuses of parts of the Māori population. These records are located in the archives of the various departments. Census-type Records Guide

Court records

Archives New Zealand holds records from courts around the country, covering a variety of topics from civil and criminal cases to bankruptcy and divorce. Access to court records varies depending on the type of record.

Several groups of court records which may be useful in whakapapa research are: coroners’ inquests, divorce records, probate and other estate records. For further information on how to access these records refer to Archives New Zealand personal identity guide

Native/Māori school records

Education board records are held regionally at the four Archives New Zealand offices. Of particular interest to those researching whakapapa are the records of approximately 450 Native/Māori schools, which were transferred to Archives New Zealand in 1969. These records, dating from 1879 to 1964, are held by the Auckland regional office.

The Hawkes Bay education board archives, also held in Auckland, contain registers of admissions for Waiomatatini (Māori) school.  Access to all records which contain personal student information, such as records cards and examination results, is restricted until 70 years after the date of the last entry.

Other resources

A number of other Māori Affairs department records contain whakapapa for various iwi, hapū and whānau. These include:

  • South Island Genealogies. A volume of genealogies, indexed by name. [MA 23/27 (ACIH 16056)]
  • Māori Genealogies. A series of genealogies relating to East Coast iwi, Waikato iwi, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Hinga, Ngāti Hineuru, Ngāti Hauiti, and Ohuake. Copies have been made of these records and are available to researchers in the Wellington reading room. [MA 23/28, 1-11 (ACIH 16056); Repros 1735-1743]
  • Genealogies of the Kahungunu Line. [MA 31/54 (ACIH 16064); AAFV 997/H26 & 27]
  • Schedule of Native Reserves in the South Island. As well as lists of reserves and allottees, this schedule includes as well as a number of whakapapa tables towards the back of the volume. [MA-MT 6/19 (AECW 18692)]
  • Notes on Genealogy and Ancient History Relating to the Awhaoko Block, c1888. A number of notes, written in Te Reo. [MA-Wang 7/3-5 (AEDK 18746)]
  • Whakapapa of Ngāti Mutunga. [ABWN 8879 W5280/183]

Return to top

Genealogy at the library

Need help with your genealogy research?

Call in at one of the Library Drop-In Genealogy Help sessions hosted by local genealogy experts. No booking necessary.

Bring along your laptop if you have one and any details you have already collected.

Te Ao Mārama - Tauranga Library

Meets on the 2nd Tuesday of the month
From 10am – 12noon

In the Heritage and Research Room (He Puna Wānanga), 21 Devonport Road


Morag Hughson
Phone: 022 185 3643

Joy Edmonds 
Phone 07 575 5820

Join a Local Genealogy Group

Te Ao Mārama - Pāpāmoa Library

Meets on the last Friday of the month
From 10am – 12noon

Please bring your own laptop.


Jenny Joyce Convenor 
Phone: 07-542 5243 


Tauranga Genealogy Informal Group

Meets 2nd Saturday of the month
From 1.30pm

Brain Watkins House, Corner Cameron Road and Elizabeth Street

Contact: Janet: 07 576 8835

Mount Maunganui Genealogy

Meets first Wednesday of the month
From 10am–12noon

Arataki Community Centre,
Zambuck Way

Contact: Joy Edmonds: 07 575 5820 or
Ken Read: 07 575 6260

Pāpāmoa Family History Group

Meets second Monday of the month
From 9.30am–2pm

Tohora Room, Pāpāmoa Community Centre at Te Ao Mārama - Pāpāmoa Library


Heather McLean Bequest

Heather Yvonne McLean (née Milne) (1937-2019) QSM was a genealogist and researcher who was born in Tauranga and lived here for most of her life. For almost 50 years her interests led her to document the headstones in the six council cemeteries in Tauranga and death notices and obituaries from the Bay of Plenty Times and the New Zealand Herald, as well as helping people research their family history. She received the Tauranga Historical Society’s Heritage Award in recognition of her exceptional contribution in the discovery and transmission of genealogical and historical information for Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty region and was also awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for her services to genealogy and historical research.
Heather left a bequest to Tauranga City Libraries. This has been used to purchase a selection of family history titles for the library’s collection, 8 databases which are available for customers to use on the Research PCs in He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research (at He Puna Manawa, 21 Devonport Road) and assist the library in its project to digitise 67 volumes of the Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society published between 1955 and 1982.
The following titles were purchased for the library’s collection (you will find most of these in He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research at He Puna Manawa, 21 Devonport Road):

  • A Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy: Learn How to Trace Your Family History and Discover Your Roots
  • Ancient Dynasties: The Families that Ruled the Classical World, circa 1000 BC to AD 750
  • Engaging the Next Generation: A Guide for Genealogy Societies and Libraries
  • Family History Digital Libraries
  • Family Tree Factbook: Key genealogy facts and strategies for the busy researcher
  • Finding Your Scottish Ancestors: Techniques for Solving Genealogy Problems
  • Genealogy 101: Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Known When I Began Researching My Family History
  • Genealogy Tip of the Day
  • Great British Family Names and Their History: What's in a Name?
  • How to Find Your Family History in U. 8. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide: With Specific Resources for Major Christian Denominations before 1900
  • Micro-historian's Guide to Research, Evidence, & Conclusions, The: Step-by-Step Research Planning and Execution for Historians, Genealogists, Journalists, Museum Professionals, Specialty Researchers, & Local History Enthusiasts
  • Practical Genealogy: 50 Simple Steps to Research Your Diverse Family History
  • Professional Genealogy. a Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians
  • Publish a Photo Book: A Step-By-Step Guide for Transforming Your Genealogical Research into a Stunning Family Heirloom
  • Same Old Families: A Contribution to the Genealogical History of Scotland with an Appendix of Illustrative Documents
  • Tartans Map of Scotland
  • The Adoptee's Guide to DNA Testing: How to Use Genetic Genealogy to Discover Your Long—Lost Family
  • The DNA Guide for Adoptees: How to use genealogy and genetics to uncover your roots, connect with your biological family, and better understand your medical history
  • The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors
  • The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark
  • The Family Tree Scottish Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Scotland
  • The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy
  • Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians
  • Tracing Your Female Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians
  • Tracing Your Great War Ancestors: The Somme
  • Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians - Second Edition
  • Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors
  • Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians
  • World War] Genealogy Research Guide: Tracing American Military and Non-Combatant Ancestors

The 8 databases which are available for customers to use on the Research PCs in He Puna Wānanga - Heritage & Research at He Puna Manawa, 21 Devonport Road:

  • Index of Death Notices New Zealand Herald (2019)
  • Oamaru Cemeteries - Headstone Transcriptions (2013)
  • Indexes and Extracts of Births, Deaths and Marriages 1851-1891, as Published in the Lyttelton Times (2012)
  • The Naval Chronology of Great Britain 1803 - 1816 (2012)
  • Passenger Lists - Victoria, Australia Outwards to New Zealand 1852-1923 (2009)
  • A Return of Freeholders of NZ October 1882 (2010)
  • New Zealand Cemetery Records: Waikato, King Country and Taupo (2012)
  • New Zealand Land Transactions (2016)

Return to top

Back To Top