About the New Zealand, Birth Index, 1840-1950
General collection information
This collection contains an index of birth records from New Zealand between 1840 and 1950. Per New Zealand law, birth records are accessible to the public 100 years after the birth occurred, except for stillborn records which are available after 50 years have passed.
Using this collection
Records in the collection may contain the following:
Please note that this collection does not contain specific birth dates or places, however, it contains excellent clues to help your research. In addition to an approximate birth date, each file lists a folio number that correlates to a full birth record. Full birth records will contain more details.
If your family is Māori, it's likely their records won't be found here unless they were born after 1913. This is because Māori communities were not required to register births with the government before this period, due to the government's inability to effectively enforce registration among Māori communities.
Collection in context
Although part of Aotearoa New Zealand was contained within the geographical zone claimed by the British when they colonised New South Wales in 1788, it was not of significant interest for several years. Sealers and whalers established camps along the shorelines, and communities of Māori and Europeans (often called Pākehā) developed in some coastal areas. In the 1830s, the British Colonial Office established their first official presence, and in 1841, New Zealand split from New South Wales and became a separate crown colony. Civil registration was introduced in 1848, when all births and deaths were required to be reported to the Registrar-General. Due to parish registers, some earlier births are also recorded. In 1912, the Registrar-General began recording births of stillborn children. Beginning in 1913, Māori births were recorded, but in a separate register. This insitutionalized practice of keeping Māori and Pākehā birth registers separate continued until the 1960s.
New Zealand Government. "Search Historical Birth, Death, and Marriage Records." Last Modified July 7, 2021. https://www.govt.nz/browse/history-culture-and-heritage/search-historical-records/search-historical-birth-death-and-marriage-records/.
National Library. "Family History." Last Modified 2022. https://natlib.govt.nz/researchers/guides/family-history.