New Zealand Gazetteers

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A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers describe towns and villages, districts, rivers and mountains, sizes of population, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. The place-names are generally listed in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary.

There may be several places in New Zealand with the same or similar names. You will need to use a gazetteer to identify the specific town where your ancestor lived, the district it was in, which island it was on and the jurisdictions that kept records.

Because there is no comprehensive gazetteer for New Zealand, when a place-name cannot be found, a directory might be used. See the "Directories" section in this outline.  '

Historical Place-Names

Names and boundaries of some places have changed or no longer exist, so you may need to use sources that describe places as they were known earlier. One historical national gazetteer that identifies places in New Zealand is:

The New Zealand index annual. Dunedin: New Zealand Index Annual Office, 1899. (Family History Library fiche 6342574.) This index is in two parts. Part II is a listing of places with descriptions of their locations. There is a map of New Zealand included in the index.

Modern Place-Names

For some research purposes, such as correspondence, it is useful to learn modern jurisdictions for the area where your ancestors lived. This may also be helpful when finding the ancestral town on modern maps. The following modern gazetteer can be found at most large libraries and archives:

Discover New Zealand: a Wise's guide. 9th ed. Auckland, New Zealand: Wise's Publications, 1994. (Family History Library book Ref 993.1 E6g 1994.)

Land Information. New Zealand maintains a New Zealand Geographic Place-names Database (a list of modern New Zealand place names), which is searchable. This site can be accessed at:

Finding Place-Names in the FamilySearch Catalog

To find the district or other division that a town is filed under in the FamilySearch Catalog, use the "see" references on the first microfiche in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog for New Zealand. If you are using the catalog on compact disc, use the "Locality Browse" search. The computer will find places with that name.

Gazetteers and similar guides to place-names are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


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