Workday Wednesday: Engineers

Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, 1-W1814 
Was your ancestor an engineer in NZ? If so, here are some sources of possible interest for you to explore. 

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (known to its friends as IPENZ) operates an excellent website on NZ's engineering heritage. It includes a small database of biographies of significant engineers.

If you know the engineering field your ancestor was involved in, some of the works in the 'recommended reads' section may also prove of value as background material.

Auckland Libraries has both reference and loan copies available of Early New Zealand engineers by F.W. Furkert; revised and edited by W.L. Newnham. This work is a collection of alphabetically arranged mini-biographies of engineers who were born prior to 1866.

Along with some other sources on engineers, the names from Furkert's book have been indexed into the New Zealand Card Index; for example:

The New Zealand Card Index was closed in 1996 when Index Auckland started. As the name implies, this index has a strong emphasis on Auckland, but also contains references to places and people from further afield; it is worth checking for engineer ancestors even if they are not Aucklanders.

Among the items indexed are obituaries and other biographical mentions of engineers appearing in selected issues of the Proceedings of the Institution of Professional Engineers 1938-1952 and the journal New Zealand Engineering, 1946-1972 (indexing not yet complete).

Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, 7-A15208
If your ancestor was already a qualified engineer when they migrated to NZ, or spent part of their working lives in the UK, then they may have joined one of the professional engineering societies in the UK. Some membership records of these are now available as searchable databases on

The contents vary, but some have considerable detail, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers’ collection of applications to join the society 1820-1930. Entries often include date of birth, nationality, and summary of education and career, sometimes with supporting correspondence and certificates. Engineers are a highly mobile occupational group, so such information might well include details of service all over the world.


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