New Zealand Biography

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A biography is a history of a person's life.  In a biography you may find the individual's birth, marriage, and death information, and the names of his parents, children, or other family members.  Always use the information with caution because of possible inaccuracies.

The online Dictionary of New Zealand Biography is a major biographical resource which includes over 300,000 New Zealanders who made their mark on the country.  It does not include living people.

Brief personal biographies have been gathered and published in collective biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. See the “Encyclopedias and Dictionaries” section of this outline.  Usually these only include biographies of prominent or well‑known citizens of New Zealand and of the Maori people.  Others feature biographies of specific groups of people, such as physicians, painters, and others.

Significant biographical indexing projects are underway in New Zealand in which the major newspapers throughout the country are being indexed.  Some of these projects are:

The Alexander Turnbull Library Biographies Index. This microfiche index lists 150,000 individuals; available at most New Zealand libraries.

The Alexander Turnbull Library New Zealand Biographical Clippings 1890-1988.  This file contains 36,000 pages of clippings from New Zealand newspapers.

Index New Zealand (INNZ).  The National Library's ongoing index contains biographical references taken from all daily newspapers of New Zealand.  The index is updated quarterly on microfiche and computer disc and is held at many New Zealand libraries.  For access to INNZ go to

Biographical Collections

The following collections of biographies, including some Maori biographies, are available at the Family History Library:

Oliver, W. H. and Orange, Claudia. The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Wellington, New Zealand:  Department of Internal Affairs. 1990c, 1993. (FHL book Ref 993.1 D3d, 3vols.)

Scholefield, Guy Hardy. A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Internal Affairs, 1940. (FHL book Ref 920.0931 Sch64s; film 209,920.)

Howe, George Frederick Hori Kiwi. Maori Biographies, or, The Progress of the Maori. 1960. (FHL book 993.1 F2mh; film 924,916 item 2.)

General Biographical Index, ca. 1840-1870. National Archives, Wellington [no date].  (FHL films 1,514,963-1,514,971 & 1,514,980-1,514,982.)

A biography of New Zealand women, including some Maori, is:

MacDonald, Charlotte. The Book of New Zealand Women (Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa). Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books, 1991, 1992.  (FHL book 993.1 D36b.)

Another excellent biographical work is:

Mediavilla, Victor Herrero. Australasian Biographical Index. K.G. Saur: München, New Providence, London, Paris 1996.  (FHL book Ref 994 D32m, vols 1-3.)

Additional biographies in the collection of the Family History Library are generally listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:





Web Sites