Hidden Histories - Jason Gunn - Day 2

The skeleton of a family tree is the Birth, Death and Marriage of our ancestors and it's important to prove each branch of the tree. For Jason's family tree we started with his grandparent’s marriage certificates. From these we found out more about his grandparents and also the name of their parents.
Keep reading to find out how you can get started with your Family History.

The Bones - Part 1

Civil Registration - Births, Deaths and Marriages

New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages started being registered in 1848 and became compulsory in 1856 for European births, deaths and marriages. It was compulsory for Māori marriages from 1911 and births and deaths from 1913.

The other key dates are 1876 for births and deaths and 1880 for marriages as it was in these years that more information was added to the registers. The table below shows the information that you would expect to see on printouts of historical birth, death and marriages.



Pre 1876 - Births & Deaths

Pre 1880 - Marriages

Post 1876 - Births & Deaths

Post 1880 - Marriages


Name of Child
Date & Place of Birth
Name of Parents including maiden name of mother
Father’s Occupation
Informant (could be a relation)
Parents Birthplaces
Parents’ Marriage date and place


Name of Deceased
Date & Place of Death
Cause of Death
Informant (could be a relation)
Name of Parents including maiden name of mother
Father’s Occupation
Where & When Buried
Where Born
How long in New Zealand
Name of Spouse
Age at marriage
Where married
Ages & Sex of living children


Names of Groom & Bride
Date & Place of Marriage Occupations
Condition (whether they were single or widowed)
Where they resided
Name of Parents including maiden name of mother
Father’s Occupation  


Unless required for legal purposes we suggest that you buy a printout of an event rather than a certificate as it contains more information. These currently cost $20.40 for post 1874 printouts and $26.50 for pre 1875 printouts (Oct 2016).

Finding a Historical Birth, Death or Marriage

Online there are indexes that allow you to find:

  • Births that occurred at least 100 years ago.
  • Stillbirths if registered at least 50 years ago.
  • Marriages that occurred 80 years ago.
  • Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased's date of birth was at least 80 years ago.

These can be searched at https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search

Indexes to more modern records (pre 1990) can also be found, using the microfiched indexes at Christchurch City Libraries, but the information on the indexes is not as full as what you find online.



With over 8 billion records worldwide for researching, Findmypast.com.au is a growing source for family history research.

Included in the collections are the New Zealand birth, death and marriage indexes. These are from the same database as above, but the added bonus is more flexibility in searching the records. You can search the records HERE

We've got a blog post on searching these records that may help to find your elusive ancestors.

You can subscribe to Findmypast.com.au so that you can research from home, or use the website via the electronic resources at Christchurch City Library (you do need to be at the library to use it).

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