Family History – Cemetery Burial Books and Plot Plans

Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2, Tūranga, holds Christchurch cemeteries, microfilm copies of a number of Christchurch City Council burial books. These are now largely replaced by the Christchurch City Council's cemeteries database.

The microfilms, however, can give extra information. This includes Barbadoes Street Anglican material not yet on the cemeteries database, plot purchase books for Barbadoes Street and several other cemeteries, a Barbadoes Street burial book for both sides of the road, ca 1915-1925, and causes of death in older entries (especially Linwood and Bromley) which are usually omitted in the database.

The reels cover:

  • the Anglican section of Barbadoes Street, 1851-1973
  • Addington, 1858-1994
  • Linwood, 1884-2000
  • Bromley, 1918-2000
  • Sydenham, 1934-2000 (the cemetery was opened in 1896 but the early burials have not been microfilmed)
  • Ruru Lawn, 1941-2000
  • Memorial Park, 1956-2000
  • Belfast, 1991-2000
  • Avonhead Park, 1992-2000

Using the microfilms of burial books

There is an alphabetical index by surname, organised by year in the indexes. Find the year of the death from the cemeteries database or the indexes. In earlier records, the dates are often not written in, so this may be difficult. Search through that section for the name and then go to the numbered page listed. The record will include the name, date and cause of death, address at time of death, place of birth, the lot and plot number, the cost of the site and the name of the funeral director.

  • The reels have two separate sequences on interments (I) and on purchases of plots (P). The interments section is needed for burial information.
  • The interments index (it may have an "I" at the bottom of the page) is an alphabetical index by surname, organised by year. Go to the relevant letter in the index and find the year of the death. In earlier records the dates are often not written in. Search through that section for the name, then go to the numbered page listed.
  • The record will include the name, date and cause of death, address at time of death, place of birth, the lot and plot number, the cost of the site and the name of the funeral director. From about 1930 the cause of death was omitted from burial registers.

Some older cemeteries in Christchurch were once known by different names and these names may appear on death certificates or in newspaper notices.

Plot plans

Many cemeteries were originally church cemeteries but not on church sites. Such places are now often public cemeteries. Plans and burial registers which originated with the churches may be held by the relevant local authorities.

There are official plans of cemeteries. These can include surnames which lead to a grave site. There is an outsize map collection of photocopies of official plans for the Addington Cemetery and the Anglican section of the Barbadoes Street Cemetery which are held on Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2, Tūranga. The plans may be useful if there is no tombstone. They show the layout of a cemetery and link a particular surname with a particular grave site.

Beyond Christchurch

The Selwyn District Council has records for: Lincoln, Springston, Shands Road, Ellesmere, Prebbleton, Darfield, South Malvern, Kimberley and Kirwee.

The Lyttelton, Akaroa and Little River service centres hold records of cemeteries at Kaituna and Little River; the Lyttelton Public Cemetery (including Returned Services Association and Dissenters’ sections); the Lyttelton Roman Catholic and Anglican cemeteries; the Akaroa Anglican, Roman Catholic and Dissenters’ cemeteries. Kaituna records are also held at Little River Service Centre. These records will eventually be added to the Christchurch City Council’s cemeteries database.

The Mount Herbert Anglican parish, Diamond Harbour, has records of cemeteries associated with St Cuthbert’s, Governors Bay, St Peter’s, Teddington, and the Church of the Epiphany, Gebbies Valley.

Many Anglican Church burial books and cemetery plans for Christchurch and other parts of Canterbury are held in the Anglican Archives

The Rapaki Rununga and Onuku Runanga have records of graveyards in their areas.

Ashburton Public Library have a database of people buried in local cemeteries.

More New Zealand cemetery websites.

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