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New Zealand Electoral Rolls

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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.

They are available at Ancestry ($) at their collection New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981. Note that only small number 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 from the 2010s decade. However in recent decades voter enrolment, while technically a legal obligation, has dropped, and so many people are not on the electoral roll, including about 25% of people under 24. It is now also possible to have one's name not published on the roll for security reasons.

Maori, have had separate electorates [preferred New Zealand term for constituencies] since 1867. Before 1867 very few Maori were eligible because voters had to individually own land, while Maori land was traditionally owned communally. No electoral rolls were made of Maori electorates until 1949. From 1976 onwards, Maori have had the option of choosing to vote in a general electorate, and there is now a reasonably close split between Maori on a Maori roll and those on a general roll.

The Electoral Rolls give name, address and occupation. Be aware that voting rights were not universal until 1893. Only men of property could vote at first. Miners were guaranteed the vote in 1860, all Maori men were given the vote in 1867, all European men in 1879 and all women in 1893. New Zealanders take especial pride in being the first country to give women the vote in parliamentary elections.

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.

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