Archive for February 2011

Guest post: The New Zealand Company

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Guest contributor: Paul Veart

Over the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of researching the New Zealand Company for a presentation as part of Auckland Libraries’ lunchtime talk series.

When I first began looking at the New Zealand Company I must admit I didn’t quite realise what I’d be in for, expecting just a brief search through emigration records. Once I began, however, I quickly got sucked into a world of manipulative political dealings, life-and-death journeys and murky contracts – and that was just trying to book a microfilm reader!

Of course there are actually a large number of freely available resources on the New Zealand Company, including an excellent set of microfilms at the Central Auckland Research Centre, covering everything from emigrants’ original applications for free passage to letters of reference and land purchases. However, the resource I found most interesting was something different…

After several failed attempts as far back as the 1820s, the New Zealand Company was founded in England in 1839 with the aim of promoting, and financially benefitting from, the colonisation of New Zealand. The company’s principles were devised by a former diplomat, hypnotist and convicted kidnapper, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, while he was serving a three year jail term in Newgate Prison. The New Zealand Company went on to found settlements across the country, including Wellington,Nelson and Petre/Wanganui/Whanganui, as well as being involved in the establishment of New Plymouth, Dunedin and Christchurch.

Of the many excellent resources on the history of these settlements, the ones I found most insightful were not passenger lists or recruiting posters (although these are both worth investigating) but a series of maps, freely available on the Te Ara website.

Included is the 1840 map of Wellington on its original site, complete with its own Covent Garden and Billingsgate Fish Market, all on the banks of the Hutt River. There is also the first map of Wellington as we know it today. The ruler-straight roads can be seen running up the sides of Wellington’s notorious hills and if ever you’ve laboured up a particularly steep street in the country’s capital or have struggled to find a car park on ground flat enough that your handbrake will hold, you now know who to blame: the New Zealand Company’s first Surveyor General and author of the map, William Mein Smith. This online plan also lets you investigate every original section, and the order in which they were chosen – from lot 215, a prime waterfront location (at least until the land reclamations) to lot 524, just above the cemetery and chosen 993rd!

Te Ara has these maps not only for Wellington but also several other New Zealand Company settlements. The format allows you to zoom in to great levels of detail and appreciate them not only as genealogical and historical tools, but as works of art in their own right.

Paul Veart

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge wrap-up!

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We put out a challenge to our family history community in celebration of Waitangi Day . . .
The challenge was to:

Write about:
  • How different is our life from that of your early NZ ancestors? (settler or Maori)
  • What stories can you tell us about their lives?
  • If you are first generation New Zealander or maybe a new Kiwi, perhaps you might like to tell us of your first impressions of New Zealand, and your experiences of settling in here; and how Kiwi traditions and culture differs from your own.
It followed the inspirational example led by our friends across the Tasman when Shelley of Twigs of Yore sent out an Australia Day blog challenge.

We were very pleased with the result, which saw eleven different people post their blogs. Some people posted about more than one of their ancestors!

The quality of the research was great, and people are obviously very passionate about their ancestors.

What impressed us the most was the interest that this raised.

Looking at the statistics of our Facebook page, we noted that we had over 1900 people internationally view our Waitangi Blog discussions page! That’s a whole lot of interest.

And our contributors were also international: from the UK, US and Australia, as well as from New Zealand.

Certainly makes us motivated to wanting to issue a similar challenge again!

Thank you to our wonderful contributors:
Lyn of Genealogy New ZealandNed Devine “Cabbage Tree Ned”
Carole of Carole’s CanvasJoseph CRAIG
Julie of Anglers RestAnne MATTHEWS (nee LASSETER)
Sharon of The Tree of MeCharles Thomas SEABROOK
Caroline of Caro’s Family ChroniclesThomas BLUETT
Lee of LineagekeeperCharles Hook Gordon LOGIE
Patsy posted hers about Samuel STONE, Henry ELLMERS and Robert HAMLETT direct to the Facebook discussion board on our page, and
Lyn posted an extra two contributions about Louis HAUPOIS and Te Mauri MEIHANA aka Molly MASON straight to the board also.
While there, you might want to “LIKE” our page to keep updated on our news and events,
or you might want to sign up for our Library eNewsletter, to be updated of all Auckland Library events

Happy hunting

Exciting announcement from Ancestry!

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ancestry.jpgHere at the Central Auckland Research Centre, we were very pleased at the announcement that Ancestry have released six important databases of historical significance to New Zealanders through their website.

Ancestry is available free to any members of the public visiting the Auckland region's 55 libraries from Wellsford to Waiheke to Waiuku.

The databases make up part of a collection accumulated from the 20 year's worth of research of noted family historian Anne Bromell.

The collections number some 20 million family history records and cover 140 years, from 1842 to 1981.

The summary of the new online collections are as follows:
New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981Electoral rolls for New Zealand from 1853 to 1981 are contained in this collection. The rolls were compiled during general and provincial election years and include the names of individuals from each electoral district who were qualified to vote. By law, all persons who were eligible to vote were required to register on the electoral roll, even if they did not intend to vote. When the first national elections were held in 1853, eligible voters were male British subjects who owned property and were age 21 or older. Māori were granted the right to vote in 1867 without the property ownership requirement, and in 1897 the requirement was repealed for British subjects as well. New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893. The original collections of electoral rolls are held in the Parliamentary Library in Wellington, New Zealand.

New Zealand, Maori Voter and Electoral Rolls, 1908 & 1919
Maori voter rolls for 1908 and Maori electoral rolls for 1919 are contained in this database. Those listed in the voter rolls are men and women of half or more Māori descent over 21 years of age. Information listed in the rolls includes: Name of voter, tribe, sub tribe or hapu, address, and gender.

Canterbury, New Zealand, Provincial Rolls, 1868-1874
Electoral rolls for Canterbury province, New Zealand years 1868 to 1874 are contained in this collection. The rolls were compiled during election years and include the names of individuals from each electoral district who were qualified to vote for the provincial superintendent and members of the provincial council. Information listed includes number, name of voter, address, qualification, and property description.

New Zealand, Jury Lists, 1842-1862In the mid 1800s every male British subject between the ages of 21 and 60 years old who resided in New Zealand was qualified to serve as a juror. This collection contains an index of these individuals from 1842 through 1862. Contained in the jury lists are names of jurors, residences, and trade or calling for the individual.

New Zealand, Naturalisations, 1843-1981This is an index of persons who were naturalized or given citizenship in New Zealand between 1843 to 1981. The records may include name of individual, age or birth date, birthplace, place of residence, former nationality, naturalization date, file number, certificate register, and register page number. Images of the records won’t be displayed due to privacy restrictions.

New Zealand, Maori Land Claims, 1858-1980
As recorded by the New Zealand Parliament, this index contains Maori claims made for land from 1858 to 1980. Information listed includes claimant (person, group, or tribe), year of claim, description of claim, and additional notes. This database is not a comprehensive list of all Māori claims to the New Zealand Parliament for land. Only the petitions that were tabled are included. All claims or reports of claims by Māoris for land or land loss compensation are included, but no Pakeha (European) claims for Māori land are included. Petitions requesting changes to the Native Lands Act, those asking for an increase in rent, or those correspondences negotiating a land sale are also not included.

So come on in and see us at the Central Auckland Research Centre, or your friendly local library!