Archive for 2008

Free family history lunchtime sessions

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In my final blog for 2008, 1 would like to review what we have done this year.
Over this year, we have conducted the following full dayworkshops:
  •             Family history resources at Auckland City Libraries
  •          New Zealand resources  
  •          Australian resources
Every second Wednesday we have presented family history focused talks.
Some of the highlights from this series are:
  •            Papers past
  •           New Zealand electoral rolls
  •           Passenger records
  •            Family history on the Internet – presented by Jan Gow
  •           New Zealand Gazette
In November we ran a hugely  successful series of meetings“Telling your life story. A series of workshops to get you started.
…and of course the piece de resistance for the year was the annual Family History Lock in – always popular and a chance for family history nuts to get together and research the night away.
I feel exhausted just thinking about what we have done this year
The programme of events from February til April 2009 has just been finalised
All lunch time sessions are FREE
  •         Wednesday 4th February 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                  The value of local history
                  Renowned local historian Lisa Truttman will talk about the value of local history
  •         Wednesday 18th February 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                  19th Century Auckland
                  Ever wondered what Auckland was like in 1840, or 1900, or any time within that period.
                  Come along and find out.
  •          Wednesday 4th March 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                   Papers Past
  •          learn how to search effectively in Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand's digital collection of 19th Century and early 20th century newspapers 
  •          Wednesday 18th March 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                   Auckland City Council Archives resources that are relevant to family and
                   local history research.
  •          Wednesday 1st April 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                   Early NZ military records.
                   Come and hear renowned historian and military expert John Binsley.
  •          Wednesday 15th April 2009 12 noon – 1pm
                   Machinery – tips and tricks
                   Come and learn how to use our microfilm/reader/printer/scanners effectively.
Bookings are essential for these free lunchtime sessions.
You can book by phone   09 3077771

I would like to wish you all a safe and Merry  Christmas and holiday season. and hope that you return to your research rested and energised.

Guest post: Indexes in Auckland City library

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From our guest blogger: Bridget

We have indexes in the Auckland Research Centre unique to us and possible gold mines for genealogists.

One of them is the Auckland Provincial History Index. It is a card index containing both biographical and subject entries covering the 1840's and 1850's and is on microfiche within our collection.

Our New Zealand Card Index is the precursor to Index Auckland, which is available through our website. References in this index come from a multitude of sources, including local and national newspapers, various New Zealand periodicals and books of local history. It was commenced in the 1950's and continued until November 1996, the end of the New Zealand and Pacific Department. Searches can be done on people, place names and organisations. The major geographical focus is on the Auckland area, but there are references to elsewhere in New Zealand.

The Bush Index was compiled to allow for the writing of Dr Bush's histories of the Auckland City Council, 1871 to 1967 and 1971 to 1989, and allow's access to Council Minute Books and newspaper articles on Council activities including parks and public works.

The Dunstall Index is a useful guide to business leaders and their companies, in 1860's Auckland. It gives references to newspaper articles and the like.

These are just some of our gems.

Avondale College - our stories

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Auckland City libraries approached Avondale College with a concept.

To be involved in a writing competition where students produced a piece of writing based on a family story.
  •  Two categories. Junior, Year 9 and 10; Senior, year 11, 12, 13
  • 10 finalists in each category
  • All finalists invited (with 2 support people) to a celebration and  prizegiving in the Central Library
  • All finalists received a booklet containing all the finalists entries.
  • The winners in each category won an iPod touch
  • two runners up in each category won an iPod Nano
What the judges were looking for:Stories needed to convey a sense of the experiences of the people and the time period. As diverse as:
  •   Grand-dad's war experiences
  • What an ancestor did for a living
  • A special family memory.
What we were looking for was the human aspect rather than a dry recounting of facts; a sense of why the story is special to the author.

This competition was designed to introduce children to their identity. We wanted young people to appreciate and value their own family stories and form a stronger attachment to their culture and to their community.

This competition has exceeded my wildest expectations. Some of the entries made me laugh and some of the entries made me cry. They were all without a doubt stunning.

I have added the winners of the junior and the senior categories so that you can judge for yourself.
Ist prize. Junior competition
Memory Tea
By Lucy Chen 1001
It was summer; the air was warm and scented with flowers. I was staying with my grandparents for a week. I was six years old then. We often went to the park down the road. On Sunday afternoon, my grandfather was taking a nap so Grandma asked me to join her for tea on the veranda. It was wonderful sitting in the sun and looking at all the flowers that Grandma had planted – she loved to be close to the earth. I poured some tea into my favourite cup, white and traditionally patterned with clouds and mountains. It made me feel grown up.
“Grandma,” I asked. “What was China like when you were little?”
She looked at me, and her eyes were very dark and kind.
“Well,” she said, taking a sip of tea. “it was very different to how things are now. But I do not think you would understand.”
I tried to imitate her by taking her a sip, but the tea was too hot and scalded my tongue.
“Why not?”
“Because it is a little sad.”
“Tell Me! Please, Grandma.”
Grandma told me about her childhood. I had to listen carefully, because my Chinese wasn’t very good. She lived in a rural town, and liked to look after the cattle on her family’s farm. She and her friends would have fun in the river and the woods.
“For a while life was good and simple.”
Then she talked about what happened when she was only three years older. She said that bombs fell out of the sky and strange people with huge guns decided to take over the country. That when they came her family and some others from her town escaped into the mountains.
“I was in the paddock and did not know that they were coming. When I heard them and ran, pulling my favourite cow along, because she was my friend also. It snowed in the mountains, there was hardly anything to eat, a few people did not make it. And for a week there was nothing to do except wait. Then the invaders left. We slowly crept back into the town. All the animals were gone, the houses broken into, the people who couldn’t run away were dead. The only animal left was the cow I saved.”
“But why?” I asked.
I had listened to her story, a frown etching deeper and deeper on my face. I was confused. What she told me was alien, strange. It was years later that I realized that she had not told me the whole truth, that she thought I was too young. I realised that their animals had been slaughtered, their houses burned to the ground, and their people massacred.
My grandmother smiled at my round childish face, but it was a melancholy smile; the expression that she wore was close to pity.
“I knew you would not understand.”
I pouted and picked up my cup again. The tea was cold.
Note: A true story, China was invaded in WW2
1st prize. Senior competition
More than just a story
By Alison Officer 1101
 Mum made us come. She said it might be our last chance to say goodbye, so we humoured her. Great Nana Joyce Hooper (We usually just called her Nana) was on her last legs. She was approaching 98 and still lived at home. Once she remembered who we all were she asked us “little ‘un’s” to come closer.
“Let me tell you about the adventure I had when I was not much older than you,” she whispered to us.
Her eyelids fluttered shut as her mind wandered through her memories.
“Most of us left school to work when we were about 14 years old. Ah yes, I was lucky to find a material shop to work in, right in my hometown Napier. It was an ordinary day at work, now what year was it? Let’s see, 1931 yes, my best friend Joyce and I-“
“Two Joyce’s?” My sister questioned.
“Yes dear, we had just come back from our break when it began.” She seemed to drift off, but the tale continued.
A deep rumbling sound could be heard at about 10:45 in the morning. It seemed to come from the depths of the earth and one could only stop and listen. Next began the shaking, jolting, shuddering, quivering tremors that rolled like waves across the ground.
Terrified, I burrowed beneath boxes, clambering, aiming to get underneath the great Kauri tree counter which was my workstation. Uttering prayers to God in heaven I prayed he would look after me and my family. Then I felt as though there were two arms around me like a child in a loving embrace. I was meant to survive. God would protect me.
Crashing down around me came reels of thread that were stored on the high shelves in the store. Then the clash of brass ornaments, the shattering glass and falling debris. Looking up, great bolts of material that were displayed around the shop swung from the ceiling. Next to go were the shelves themselves, before the walls around them crumbled. Dust was everywhere, choking whatever life was left in me.
My hair was caught so I hacked it free of the rubble. I had beautiful long hair, the talk of the town, but it was a small price to pay. Screaming in shock I shouted out to Joyce, was she okay? No reply and I feared the worst. Crouching under the kauri counter, tears tumbled out of my eyes, and I hoped she had merely been knocked unconscious.
I struggled to find my way through the store I knew so well. Massive concrete blocks had dropped from the ceiling, crushing all those underneath. The kauri table had saved me. I was lucky to be alive. I found my dear friend looking so serene, so peaceful, against the stark contrast of the collapsed store. Her black frock, our work clothes, were smothered in the white dust. Her body was rigid and I could feel the heat from her body disappear. Tears once more streaked my face as I looked around in hope of finding someone alive.
Running down Main Street, fleeting looks left and right showed the same tragedy had befallen us all. I slowed to a walk; it was much too dangerous to run for there were live wires everywhere, shooting out blue sparks from fallen power poles. A chemist store was ablaze, but there were no fire engines and no available water to put it out. Parked cars were crushed and roads were blocked by falling buildings.
Fires had begun to spread. Water mains had burst and the water was bubbling up through cracks in the footpath. I continued to avoid potholes in the road, noticing more fires spring up, whole buildings alight.
I reached the lagoon and stopped. I just stood staring at it along with everyone else. You could do nothing but stare. The lagoon I once paddled in as a child, it was gone, only shattered rock remained! Tiny creeks of water trickled out to the sea now far away. Some people were claiming that the island in the distance jumped. And the sky was an eerie yellow from the rising dust. Shivers ran down my spine.
I shook my head; I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to find my family. Looking up at the hill I saw enormous cracks in the surface, like it was a clay figurine that had dried unevenly. Darting past the school, I tried to avert my eyes. It was a concrete school and during the ‘quake the whole roof had collapsed in. I feared for the lives of my babysitting charges. Were they safe? I was too scared to look. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw lots of children, all huddled together. They had survived it! It looked like they were still at recess.
I heard a voice coming down the street, “Joyce! Is that you?” my father yelled desperately.
Sprinting towards him, I cried, “Yes Papa! It’s me, it’s me!”
I hadn’t called him Papa since I was a child.
“Oh Joyce, my darling daughter. I heard that Bestall’s collapsed and that a Joyce had died. I thought it was you.” He broke down.
We walked back to our house hand in hand and he told me everyone was safe. Mother had been cooking dinner in the oven when the earthquake struck. The door flew open and dinner went all over the floor. My sister had just had an operation but she was fine also. Her bed skidded from one end of the verandah to the other, but thankfully she was not injured. We were awaiting letters from my brothers who were not living in Napier any longer, they were journalists. Father wasn’t sure if the earthquake spread very far, so they might not even have felt it!
Then the spell was broken. Nana gazed into the distance.
“What happened next? Did you stay in Napier? What happened to the kauri table? The questions flew at her from us, her captivated audience.
Nana laughed, :”Just a minute, one at a time! A lot of families, including mine, went to Palmerston North for a little while until Napier was repaired. Once houses had power again we were allowed back. It was an adventure for everyone”.
“The kauri counter?” I prompted her.
“Ahh yes, and as for that, well its sitting right in the dining room over there” she said musing, “and if it weren’t for that strong kauri table and God, I wouldn’t be here today… and neither would you.” She drifted back into the past, her memories of life gone to her companions yet again. We left, still chattering, wondering, intrigued by what Nana had said, knowing it was more than just a story.
 We are planning next years event now, where we are rolling the competition out to other schools in the Auckland area.

Resources about early settlers in Auckland Province

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Roll of early settlers and descendants in the Auckland Province to the end of 1852.
The compilation of a Roll of early settlers of the Auckland Province was undertaken as a Centennial effort and entrusted to the Early Settlers and descendants sub-committee of the Auckland Provincial Centennial Council. The roll contains the names (so far as these have been able to be ascertained) of all persons (other than members of the Maori Race) who settled or were born in the Province before the end of 1852.
The Roll is set out in three columns.
1. Name and life period.
2. Vessel and date of arrival in New Zealand or first known place of residence 
3. If born in New Zealand.
This volume is available at a number of libraries in New Zealand. Over a number of years Auckland City Libraries have been augmenting and correcting this publication. It is strongly recommended that you consult the heavily annotated version, a copy of which is on the shelf in the Auckland Research Centre at   2 NZL SET AKD
Old Colonists membership roll (NZMS 493)
This membership book covers the period c. 10 Oct 1919 – 16 Nov 1934. It contains the following information:-
  • Date of enrolment
  • badge number
  • address at time of enrolment
  • when & where born
  • date of arrival in NZ
  • name of ship (if parents/grandparents arrived separately sometimes both ships are named)
  • miscellaneous remarks.
It should be noted that membership was not limited to those who had immigrated as a number of members have been born in New Zealand but to either immigrant parents or grandparents. The remarks column usually gives either details of parents names (including the mother’s maiden name), “deceased” or deceased and date of death. However, there are also a number of interesting comments to be found in this column such as:

… first baker to bake bread for sale in Auckland
100 years of age when registered
… Went to Tauranga & were there at the time of the Te Kooti scare. The troops were at that time stationed at Gate Pah.
Niece of …
… applicant claims to be 1st White born (Otamatea …)
Born on the night of the High St fire under burning …. of Ben Howells(?) Hotel mother having been removed from near the drapery … where the fire started. Father gave the fire alarm.
Father living at Sydney aged 85 years
Parents did not come to N.Z.
This volume is held in Special Collections. All entries are indexed on Index Auckland

Internet library of early journals

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Internet Library of Early Journals
More and more material is being digitised and made available on the Internet. One such site is the Internet Library of Early Journals which is a joint project by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford, conducted under the auspices of the eLib (Electronic Libraries) Programme.    They have digitised at least 20 consecutive years of:
Gentleman’s magazine                                          1731-1750
A British –focused miscellany of information about people, places and events including news summaries, biographies and obituary notices.
Annual Register                                                       1758-1778
An annual survey of European and world events from a British perspective. It includes a section on births, marriages, promotions, appointments and deaths.
Auckland City Libraries has The Annual Register from 1758 to date. There is an index which covers 1758-1819. We have also created an index of names mentioned in this publication up until 1839.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 1757-1777
Started in 1660, initially as a forum for the publication of scientific papers of both a general and a specialized nature, although increasingly a learned journal carrying refereed papers from established scientists.

Notes and queries
 “A medium of intercommunication for literary men, artists, antiquaries, genealogists etc” carrying brief reports of completed research on humanities and related subjects  and questions inviting answers in subsequent issues
The Builder                                                            1843-1852
a mine of information on domestic and foreign building developments from the perspective of the architect, engineer, constructor and art historian, including accounts of new buildings, materials, processes and books, and articles on ancient monuments and other historic buildings
Blackwoods Edinburgh magazine                         1843-1863
Started in 1817. It is a medium for imaginative literature, publishing English poetry, essays and especially prose fiction, and pioneering the presentation of European literature (particularly German) to a British audience
Auckland City Libraries has this magazine from 1817-1980. The earlier issues contain a monthly register which includes a British chronicle. This chronicle included such things as promotions and appointments, and birth, deaths and marriages. Looking through the volumes held at Auckland City libraries I was able to find a section on marriages until June 1831.
The value of these magazines for family history researchers goes beyond the lists of names that we are all intent on perusing. They are useful as a tool to get the look and feel of another time and aid you in contextualising the people you are researching.

School lists

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A new project is born.
While looking through the family history section one day, I noted that we only had a few school lists/ registers etc on the shelf.

I realised that this was quite misleading as it gave the impression that this was all we had.
We have been trawling the basements, the Auckland Research Centre and Special Collections to create a spreadsheet of all the school lists, registers, histories, yearbooks etc, that are held by  Auckland City Libraries. 

We have been recording all items that contain
  • class lists
  • lists of teachers
  • photographs, (particularly named photographs)
  • anything else noteworthy.
In short anything that contains information that would be of interest to family history researchers. 

 I am absolutely amazed at the depth of the collection which includes school histories from all over New Zealand.  Examples from the spreadsheet are:
  •  Beresford Street school diamond jubilee in 1938. Part of this book is a list of as many pupils as they have managed to name.
  • Wharereora school in Whangarei includes named class photos between 1914-1969.
  • Lyndhurst school  in Ashburton. The centenary publication includes staff lists and named school photos between 1917 and 1986.
  • Avondale College yearbooks 1946-2007. Contains class lists; staff lists; some named photographs
  • Rotorua Girls High School magazine 1959-1976. Contains staff lists; class lists; prize lists; some named photographs.
When this project is finished it will provide a better sense of what is to be found in  all the primary, secondary and tertiary school histories and yearbooks both for New Zealand and overseas which are held at Auckland City Libraries.

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

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Now days more and more historical material is being digitised and made available on the Internet.
This is good news because it allows people to view a facsimile copy and lets people access  the information contained in  these books without damaging the original.

One such project is the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has four aims:
  •          To create a digital library providing open access to significant New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and    materials. This encompasses both digitised heritage material and born-digital resources.
  •      To effectively partner with other organisations, as a collaborator and service provider, on a variety of digitisation and digital content projects.
  •          To build a wider community skilled in the use and creation of digital materials through teaching and training activities and by publishing and presenting the results of research.
  •     To work at the intersection of computing tools with textual material and investigate how these tools may be used to make new knowledge from our cultural inheritance.
Acting on these goals, NZETC is engaged in an ongoing programme of digitisation and hosts an expanding online library. Today the NZETC collection contains over 2,600 texts (around 65,000 pages) and receives over 10,000 visits each day.

Examples of the publications available on this site are:

  • Official histories of New Zealand  in the Second World War, 1939-1945  (all volumes)
  • New Zealand Railway Magazine  1926-1940
  • Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Volume 1. Wellington Provincial District; Volume 6. Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.          The other four volumes will be made available soon. 
This is an ongoing project . 
Keep an eye on what publications are available. 
If you would like to suggest a publication, there is a section on there website that explains the process. 

Telling your life story: a series of four workshops to get you started

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If you are reading this blog, there is a very high likelihood that you are a family history researcher.
BUT have you ever thought about writing your personal life story?
Auckland City libraries is running a series of four workshops to help people to start thinking about their own life and open the doors of memories all but forgotten.
These workshops are designed to make writing about your life an enjoyable experience. It is recommended that you attend all four workshops.
The workshops will be happening from 10am til 12pm in the Whare Wananga on the 2nd floor of the Auckland Central Library.
* Wednesday, 5th November,
* Wednesday, 12th November,
* Wednesday, 19th November
* Wednesday, 26th November
These workshops are free, but it is essential that you book as there are limited spaces available.
There are several ways that you can book.
·        Phone the library on 3077770
·        Email me at
Use the link on the Auckland City Libraries “Whats on” page

Historic newspapers: now searchable

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Historic newspapers are easier to find thanks to the digitalisation programme run by the National Library. Papers Past covers the years 1839 to 1920 and has 45 New Zealand newspapers currently available of which 24 are key word searchable. There are plans to make all the newspapers on the website searchable in the coming year. More papers will be added in the next 12 months, such as the NZ Truth from 1906 to 1930 (an excellent source of divorces). The highlight this year was the release of The Grey River Argus, the first newspaper on Papers Past to cover the entire First World War and a significant source of early labour history.
Historical British newspapers are also accessible in the Digital Library on the Auckland City Libraries website. Gale Thompson’s British Newspapers 1600-1900, Proquest’s The Guardian and the Observer 1791-2003 and, of course, the Times Digital Archive, are fully text searchable and include a wealth of information from historical news stories to marriage or death announcements.

Trinity House Petitions

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Do you have an English mariner or lighthouse keeper in your family tree?
If so, the TRINITY HOUSE PETITIONS may be a useful source for you. We now hold on microfilm the years 1787 to 1854. Trinity House Corporation, in addition to being responsible for lighthouses around England, acted as a charitable body for mariners and their families. Those applying for aid had to give a detailed account of their circumstances and the records of those petitions provide a wealth of family information
The Society of Genealogists [in London] has produced “Trinity House petitions; a calendar of the records…” which provides a name index of those listed on the microfilms. It is available in the Auckland Research Centre ( 4 GBR OCC) and may be found on top of the cabinets containing the films of the petitions themselves.
Background information about the TRINITY HOUSE PETITIONS may be found in the following articles:
“The Trinity House Petitions” by Anthony J. Camp
Family Tree May 1986 p.13 ( 1 GEN)
“Trinity House Petitions” by Steven Thomas
Practical Family History June 2008 pp.30-32(1 GEN)

Family history lock in

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Always dreamed of spending the night in our research library? 
Auckland City Libraries is running a family history focused library lock-in, in partnership with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists.                
Check out what you get for your registration fee of  $30.00 for members; $40.00 for non members

  • Participants will enjoy a night of unlimited research in the Auckland Research Centre - who knows what can be found!.
  • Discuss your research with other family history researchers and subject experts in a friendly atmosphere.
  • experts on hand from the library and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists
  • tea, coffee, milo, orange juice and snacks available.
  • pizza at midnight
Book your place by calling or use our online form.
Comments from previous lock-ins:
“Just like to thank you and the team for a great night. Well organised, lots to eat, and lots and lots to research. I had great success“ 

“Many thanks for the chance to participate in last Friday's lock-in. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it - even if I did suffer from what felt very much like jet-lag on Saturday! I finally found something that could possibly lead to more information on my maternal grandmother's birth - the first really good lead in 25 years!

Many thanks also to your librarians, who were always so helpful. 

The night passed so quickly and I didn't need to look at my watch once to check that it was time to go. Look forward to the next one in 2006.“ 

“Thank you for having the vision to organise the lock-in - the service from you and your team plus the experts was faultless. I heard many cries of joy as ancestors were located and brick walls came tumbling down. It was truely a genealogical adventure and I do hope it won't be the last.“

Misconceptions about the Auckland Research Centre

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Some common misconceptions about Auckland Research Centre.
(help us break them down)

…but I don’t have any Auckland research
The Auckland Research Centre is much more than Auckland. 
• Yes, we do have a fantastic Auckland local history collection, but we have very good collections of local and family history for the whole of New Zealand – see the entries for us in the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Regional Repository guides.
• Our family history collections include material covering New Zealand; Australia; England; Ireland, Scotland; Wales; and increasingly countries like South Africa and some of the Islands in the Pacific.
• New Zealand Gazette (both print copy and electronic); Appendices to the House of Representatives; New Zealand legislation.

….but you have to be a member to use the Auckland Research CentreYou do not need to be a member of Auckland City Libraries• The Auckland Research Centre no longer has a gate. There is free access to anyone from anywhere
• All material in the Auckland Research Centre – with the exception of a small collection of subscription databases- is available to everyone.

…but its so expensive to park in the City• Use the library in the evening or Saturday or Sunday.
• Park in the Victoria Street car park
• Ask us for a parking voucher on your way out.
• Parking will cost you    $4.00

….but the staff are always so busy, I don’t want to disturb them
• Yes, sometimes you will have to wait while we help someone else
• If we look busy at the desk, it is only because we need something to do until you ask us a question
• The staff are on duty to help you!!!

Australian immigration records on Ancestry

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Two that I would like to bring to your attention are –

New South Wales assisted immigrant passenger lists, 1828-1896. 
This database contains a collection of assisted immigrant passenger lists to New South Wales, Australia, for various years between 1828 and 1896. “Assisted immigrants” are individuals whose passages were either subsidised or paid for by another person or through another agency. This collection is comprised of four different series of records which are part of the NSW Archival kit.
Auckland City libraries has this index and the passenger lists on microfilm
New South Wales unassisted immigrant passenger lists, 1826-1922.
“Unassisted immigrants” are individuals whose passages were NOT subsidised or paid for by another person or through another agency. This collection is comprised of two different series of records. They are:-
  •  Inward passenger lists 
  • reports of vessels arrived.
Auckland City Libraries has had the passenger lists from1826-1900 on microfilm for many years. They have not been  used as much as they could because there has  been no easy way to search.

The new online index also shows that the records do not just include people from Great Britain.
During the time period 1826-1922, there are :-
  • 403,404 passengers from Auckland
  • 384,885 people from Wellington 
  • 2,120,899 people from Melbourne. 
So, if you have ‘lost’ someone, give it ago. You never know!
 - Seonaid