New Zealand Electoral Rolls

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Electoral Rolls

Electoral Rolls were published to give information about voters enrolled for elections. They are a good alternative to a census (of which there are none surviving until 1961 in New Zealand), and are also a way to conduct more recent research as there are no privacy restrictions for more recent records.

From 1853, rolls were made at least as often as each election of the qualified voters. The names of the voters are listed alphabetically, and may have details on how they qualified (e.g. through owning property), their occupation and their address.

Before 1860, only males who owned property could vote. In 1860 miners were given the vote, followed by the indigenous Maori in 1867. All males could vote from 1879, and in 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote. See New Zealand Genealogist. May/June 1994. (Family History Library book 993.1 B2na, pp. 166-170.) for more details about who could vote at various time periods.

In more recent years it has become possible to have ones name on an "unpublished roll" for security reasons, which means their name will not be found on the publically accessible rolls. An increasingly large number of people do not enroll to vote, even though this is illegal.

Since 1867 there has been seperate Maori electorates. Until 1949 no printed electoral rolls were used for these elections. Since 1976 Maori have had a choice as whether to enroll in a Maori or general electorate.

Accessing Electoral Rolls.

The starting point would be Ancestry ($) at their collection New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981. It is also available on FindMyPast. Note that only some of the rolls have been indexed, the rest are browse only. There is a spacing of no more than 10 years between each indexed roll. The bottom of the page on the previous link lists the precise years covered and which are indexed.

More recent rolls can be viewed in person, and many larger libraries hold these rolls, even those from within the last few years.

Juror’s lists are often found mixed in with voting registers. The Family History Library has juror lists (1852-1861) which were published in:

  • "Auckland Electoral Rolls, 1854-1858." Government Gazette. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1961. (Family History Lobraru films 287522-287526.) This is a copy of a manuscript at Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand.

The majority of extant voting registers (electoral rolls) cover the years 1865-1957. Some are at local libraries in New Zealand. There is a complete series at the Parliamentary Library, Wellington, New Zealand. There are some on microfilm or microfiche in the Family History Library. They are found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NEW ZEALAND - VOTING REGISTERS.

NEW ZEALAND, [TOWN] - VOTING REGISTERS

The Otago Nominal Indexes (also known as ONI) include the Electoral Rolls and Street Directories for Otago and Southland from 1840-1876, and will be added to as the work progresses.