Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Content, New records

In a world-first, New Zealanders now have access to more than 20 million family history records that cover 140 years of New Zealand’s early history from 1842 to 1981.

The six major historical collections – the New Zealand Electoral Rolls 1853-1981, Canterbury Provincial Rolls 1868-1874, Jury Lists 1842-1862, Māori Voter and Electoral Rolls 1908 & 1919, Māori Land Claims 1858-1980 and New Zealand Naturalisations 1843-1981, are now available online exclusively on Ancestry.com.au.

The collections have been digitised and individual records fully-indexed and, depending on the record type, can be searched by a combination of name, gender, district, province and electoral year.

Together, they form part of the larger Anne Bromell Collection, named after the woman who spent more than 20 years scouring the shelves of New Zealand’s archives, libraries and bookshops. During this time, Mrs Bromell converted some of the country’s most important genealogical works to microfilm.

The collections will be of enormous interest to those with early New Zealand roots, and as history shows that antipodeans have a long history of moving back and forth between New Zealand and Australia, they will also be relevant to many Australians.

Given that 80% of New Zealanders claim UK ancestry, Brits will also have a keen interest in discovering New Zealand ancestors… and maybe even their living descendants.

And as Ancestry.com.au also hosts more than 800 million UK records, for the first time New Zealanders will have the opportunity to seamlessly trace their Brit ancestors from early New Zealand records back through even earlier UK records.

After shaking the family tree of one of New Zealand’s most famous exports, Russell Crowe, Ancesty.com.au has uncovered more detailed information about Crowe’s Māori heritage. It appears that his maternal 2xgreat-grandmother was of Ngati Rangi, a hapu (sub-tribe) of Ngati Porou from the East Coast of the North Island. An ancestor of the Ngati Porou people is Paikea – more famously known as the ‘Whale Rider’.

The Ngati Porou is a very proud Māori tribe with a long warrior history. Crowe’s warrior connection clearly must be in his blood considering the roles he has played on the big screen, including Gladiator, Cinderella Man and Robin Hood.

The collections also include a listing of Crowe’s parents, John and Jocelyn Crowe, as Publican and Hotel manager respectively, in the 1981 Electoral Rolls for Roskill.

Electoral rolls contain invaluable information and, in countries like New Zealand where traditional census records are not available, are hugely important for family history researchers as they are published consistently and nationally and so are useful in tracking individuals over time and place.

The Anne Brommell Collection is available to UK Heritage Plus and World Heritage members.