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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Marriage Indexes & Licences in New Zealand

Births, Deaths & Marriages  indexes published on microfiche start from 1840 through to 1990 but should only be consulted as a guide to the registrations. Marriages between migrants and Europeans, European and Maori appear throughout the indexes.

In the early registry indexes, the men whose surnames start with 'A' are followed by the women whose surname start with 'A' and so on through the alphabet. There is no cross-reference between husband and wife.

From 1947 the grooms are gathered together in one alphabetical list followed by the brides in another alphabetical list.

Marriage Registrations for the Maori people were compiled in separate registers from 1911 - 1952.

From 1957 each index entry has beside it the surname of the partner. The entry can then be matched against the partner’s surname, as each spouse will have the same allocation number.

A number of errors and omissions were found in the registry indexes and these were corrected when the New Zealand Society of Genealogists published in 2006 a C.D. "New Zealand Marriage Index 1836 – 1856". This index deals with the difficulty of matching brides and grooms and corrected many errors.

Notices of Intention to Marry

This series contains the quarterly returns sent to the Registrar General of notices received and issued by the district registrars under the Marriage Act 1854 and eight subsequent marriage acts. Registrations of marriages were compulsory as from 1847 many registrations are not complete. Very few marriages were registered until 1854. Registrations of Maori marriages did not become compulsory until 1911.

From 1854 one member of the couple intending to marry was required to complete a notice of Intention to Marry for the local registrar, pay the set fee, receive a marriage licence before either a civil or religious ceremony could take place.
Records are held at Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

Circumstances that allowed Marriage

An ordinance of the Governor in 1855 established that males could marry at and after the age of 14 while girls could marry at and after the age of 12. The consent of parents or guardians was required for people under the age of 21. When consent from the parents was not possible, a couple could make application to a magistrate to be allowed to marry.

The 1933 Marriage Amendment Act stated that  "A marriage between persons either of whom is under the age of 16 years shall be void". However anyone who was married prior to the new legislation below the age of 16 were protected. "Nothing in this section shall affect any marriage solemnised or contracted before the passing of the act".

The marriage of a man to his deceased wife's sister was legalised in 1881 while the marriage of a woman to her deceased husband's brother was legalised in 1901. The 1881 and 1901 acts were retrospective, enabling couples to legalise already de facto situations and give legitimacy to children of such liaisons. Marriage to the niece of a deceased wife or the nephew of a deceased husband was legalised in 1929.

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