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Our archive in Dunedin holds the records of the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, later known as the Seacliff Mental Hospital. We have expanded our listings of the early patient records on Archway – the statutory papers are now listed individually by name, meaning it is much easier to locate the records of your ancestors who may have been there in the 19th or early 20th centuries.

The statutory paper files contained the documentation relating to the committal, admission, and discharge of patients at Seacliff, as well as the Dunedin Lunatic Asylum, The Camp Mental Hospital and Orokonui Home.

The statutory papers are all in series 19850 By clicking on the “records” tab you can see the list of patients whose records are listed in that series. You can also enter the name of your person in a “simple search”. Please be aware that spelling wasn’t top priority in those days, so if you’re having no luck, try as many variations on the name that you can think of.

The statutory paper series ran from 1862 to 1912. On 1 March 1912 the Mental Defectives Act 1911 came into force. Under the new legislation, the regulations for the admission of patients were changed. At Seacliff, they closed this series of records and all patients currently held in the hospital had their papers moved to a new series of patient admission files series 19851. This series has yet to be listed individually by name, but that will be coming soon.

The information in the statutory papers will be, in most cases, supplemented with further details from the medical casebooks series 19956. The patient number obtained from the statutory paper file will often lead us to an entry in the casebook. These contained further medical information relating to the patient and sometimes even a photograph. Don’t forget to ask us about these when you locate a statutory paper.

Black and white photograph of a large building and grounds with nurses standing around looking at the camera
Reference: DAHI 20271 D266/520a

To protect personal privacy, the statutory papers and patient admission files are restricted for 100 years from the last date on file. In addition to this, individual patient archives will not be listed by name in our finding aids, nor will information confirming the existence of the public archive be made available, during the period the public archive is restricted. Any access to restricted files or information requires the written permission of the Southern District Health Board. Further information on this can be found on Archway but do feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

For further enquiries relating to Seacliff records contact us.