As you may be aware, we recently released more than 20 million images of New Zealand Historical Records in the Anne Brommell Collection.
New Zealand Electoral Rolls 1853-1981 contains millions of records collected over a period of more than 125 years. The rolls were compiled during general and provincial election years and include the names of individuals from each electoral district who were qualified to vote. By law, all persons who were eligible to vote were required to register on the electoral roll, even if they did not intend to vote.
When the first national elections were held in 1853, eligible voters were male British subjects who owned property and were age 21 or older. Māori were granted the right to vote in 1867 without the property ownership requirement, and in 1897 the requirement was repealed for British subjects as well. New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893.
Within each province voters were organized into electoral districts. Electoral rolls correspond with these districts, although district boundaries could and did change. The provinces of New Zealand themselves existed from 1841 until 1876 as a form of sub-national government. When browsing these rolls you can conduct searches by surname, district, or year.
Electoral rolls are valuable “census substitutes” and they become even more important in countries like New Zealand where census records are not available. Electoral rolls were also published fairly consistently nationwide and can provide a useful way of tracking individuals over time and place.
The information you can expect to find in these electoral roll records include:
- Name of Voter
- Property Description
New Zealand Electoral Rolls 1853-1981, and the other records in the Anne Brommell Collection, are available to view for UK Heritage Plus and World Heritage members.