Church records

This guide was last updated in 2009

Prior to the advent of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths, church registers of baptisms, marriages and burials can be used to connect generations.

The first missionaries, sent by the Church Mission Society, arrived in the Bay of Islands in 1814 and were followed by the Wesleyans in 1828 and the Roman Catholics in 1838. Some registers may still be held by the parish church in question, while older material may have been deposited at the appropriate diocesan archive.

Many registers have also been transcribed and published, so it may be possible to get copies of these through a local library. The New Zealand Society of Genealogists ( has a collection of marriage records for the period prior to 1856, available to society members.

You may find entries for Maoris in the church registers, which can be very useful – especially in the period prior to the start of their registration in 1911 and 1913. Baptismal entries will usually give you the child’s name, date of baptism, parents’ names, their residence and father’s occupation. Sometimes, you will find that the date of birth of the child is recorded too.

Marriage entries will not give as much information as the later civil records, and burial entries usually only record the name, date of burial, age, residence and occupation of the deceased. All these details can provide useful clues to earlier information and links to other family members.

BMD registers
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Electoral rolls
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