Family History – Government

Family History - Government

Information about individual politicians and those who interacted with the government through royal commissions, petitions and patents in New Zealand in the 19th and early 20th century.

On this page


There were two houses of parliament between 1853 and 1951: the upper house, the Legislative Council (appointed), and the lower house, the House of Representatives (elected).


New Zealand parliamentary record, 1840-1984
has information on parliamentarians and cabinet ministers. Earlier editions were published in 1913, 1925, 1950 and 1969.
Who’s who in New Zealand
Published at irregular intervals from 1908 until 1991.
New Zealand who’s who, Aotearoa.
Published from 1992 onwards. Latest edition is 2001.
New Zealand parliamentary debates (Hansard)
Members of Parliament’s (MPs) speeches are recorded. There may be a farewell speech from a retiring MP or a eulogy for an MP who has died.
J. Martin, The House: New Zealand’s House of Representatives 1854-2004
The results of the general election of 1919, posted outside the Press Co. Building, Cathedral Square, Christchurch.


19th century politicians

20th century politicians

Elizabeth Reid McCombs, née Henderson [between 1919 and 1925]

Women politicians

Royal commissions and commissions of inquiry

Witnesses who gave evidence to commissions and committees, 1858-1935: an index: reported in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives.
Entries are alphabetical by surname of witness in this microfiche resource. Biographical detail and personal opinion can sometimes be found in witnesses' statements to commissions.

Petitions to parliament


Local government

Handbook of the Christchurch City Council
Useful for finding Christchurch mayors or councillors. Includes the dates when they held office.
Chairmen and Mayors of the City of Christchurch
Listed on the Christchurch City Council website.

Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2, Tūranga holds a card index of portraits of prominent Christchurch citizens. This includes photographs of mayors and councillors published in newspapers or held by the Council.

Mayors of Christchurch

The census

From our photograph collection - click to view full image
Clerks sort through the ballots before drawing the first ballot in the General Election of 1914

From the 1850s the government has undertaken a nation-wide census. Unlike the 19th century English census which contains records for individual households, the New Zealand census contains purely statistical information and no information on individuals.

Information survives about Auckland and New Plymouth individuals and the land they occupied in 1845 as a census was taken for these areas. Auckland City Libraries provides online access to the Auckland Police Census 1842-46 as part of their History and Genealogy database collection. A census was also taken of individuals in Nelson in 1845 and 1849. Archives New Zealand, Wellington hold these and later census records.

Back to Top