National Census Returns
Early lists from 1843 to 1853, while New Zealand was a British Colony information was collected and published in the Blue Books but the only individuals listed by name were civil servants and felons. The first national return was taken in 1858 but returns do not survive before 1966.
A decision was made between the Government Statistician and the Chief Archivist to keep the returns and survive for 1966, 1976 & 1986 returns but from 1996 the census returns containing personal identifying data are destroyed due to privacy issues.
Maori Census Schedules
1840’s return for the Wairarapa and one for Opotiki in 1867 are the only returns that survive, are incomplete and are held by Archives New Zealand.
Regional Census Schedules
New Zealand Company Return (held by Archives New Zealand)
New Plymouth 1845/1846
Contains: head of each household, occupation and type of housing
Wellington 1840 – 1845 lists those who died at Wellington for the period
Auckland (Howick) 1849 (held by Auckland Institute Museum Library)A parish census of the Fencible settlement taken by the Reverend Frederick Julius and is most useful for checking Fencible families.
Auckland Police Censuses 1842; 1843; 1844 & 1845
(held by the Auckland Public Library and Indexed)
Contains: street resident; occupants; occupation; religion; married or single
(note records any births, deaths or marriages during the past year), construction of the house
Nelson 1845 & 1849
The first Nelson census was taken in 1845 followed by another one in 1849. Both sets have been indexed into the general biographical index held by Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
It is frustrating to use particularly if you compare it to the British census. It gives you the name head of the household; address, numbers in each family, occupation, religion, crops and livestock kept by each family
The following is an example of how entries are recorded:
“1 male 2-7 years; 1 female 7 – 14 years; 1 female 21 – 45 years”
War - Military Census
By proclamation issued under the National Registration Act, 1915, every male resident of New Zealand between the ages of 17 and 60 is required to register no later than 9th November 1915
This record has been published on CD Rom (version 2 in 2005) and is a record of every living New Zealand male aged between 17 and 60.
In the absence of Census records these records are very valuable
New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives Attestation & History sheets survive (Note that in war time if the enlistee provided the information sometimes provided included a different surname, first names, date of birth that entitled them to list. If the enlistee looked old enough, passed the medical they were accepted. The form also included a signature. Birth certificates were not required until the Korean War.