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Some of the archives listed require the written permission of the transferring agency, or their successor, before they can be accessed. These are marked with an R. Other items may be restricted owing to their fragility, or because digitised versions are available. For more information on restrictions, please consult Archway or ask a staff member.

Reference codes

In this guide we have noted the archives reference codes next to the lists of archives available. This will help you find the specific records during an advanced search on Archway.

  • agency codes have 4 letters (e.g. DAAC)

  • series codes consists of 4 or 5 numbers (e.g. 9136 or 18122)

  • Dunedin accession codes are made up of the letter D, followed by numbers (e.g. D450)


Bankruptcy and insolvency

A court file was begun when a petition for bankruptcy was filed. Files were also created by the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy, in whom all bankrupts’ property was vested.

Companies office

The Companies Office registers companies, incorporated societies, building societies, charitable trusts etc. Many Otago and Southland Companies Office files have been destroyed and those which survive are listed on Archway. For companies where no file remains, all that may exist is a register entry or an index card.


We hold large collections of records from the main courts in Dunedin and Invercargill, including:


We hold comparatively few records relating to education. For the records of the Otago Education Board and many individual schools throughout Otago, please contact the Hocken Collections, Dunedin. For the records of the Southland Education Board and many individual schools throughout Southland, please contact the Invercargill City Library and Archives.

Exceptions are:

  • Campbell Park School [CAJG] (previously Otekaieke Special School for Boys) Staff and pupil records c.1908-1987 R [D16, D227]

  • Hokonui School [DAGM] Examination & attendance registers 1885-1951 [D242]

  • Southland Education Board Teacher salary cards c.1910-1950 [D25]


Probate and letters of administration files

Probate files contain the documentation required for the legal administration of an estate after the death of a person. If a person died intestate (without a will), there may be Letters of Administration for the estate.

We hold probate and letters of administration files from the following court locations – all listed individually on Archway:

  • Dunedin 1851-1998 R D [9073, 9075, 9076]

  • Invercargill 1864-1993 R D [9066 to 9069]

  • Lawrence 1876-1909 R D [9077, 9078]

  • Oamaru 1873-1909 R D [9081]

  • Queenstown 1877-1909 R D [9082, 9083]

  • Western Otago 872-1907 R D [9071]

  • Naseby 1897-1905 R D [9079, 9080]

Our probate files have been digitised as part of a joint project with FamilySearch. All probates in our Dunedin archive over 50 years old are available online via the FamilySearch website.

Fire authorities


Also, Otago Hospital Board miscellaneous patient registers (incl. patients admitted to various hospitals) 1908-1956 R [20484]


  • Dunedin Lunatic Asylum [AAIR]

  • Seacliff Hospital [DAKH]

  • Cherry Farm Hospital  [DAHM]

  • Orokonui Home [DAKI]

We hold many records relating to individual patients at these institutions. Those most useful to family historians are listed below. Please ask for further information.

  • Medical casebooks 1863-1916 [19956]

  • Statutory admission papers 1862-1926 R [19850]

  • Patient admission files 1871-1949 R [19851]



The archives of the Dunedin District Office of the Department of Customs [DADF] include records relating to the registration of aliens (mostly Chinese) under the Immigration Restriction Acts, as well as those in New Zealand as students. Files are individually listed by name on Archway.

  • Certificates of registration of aliens 1904-1956 D [19064]

  • Customs Service files 1887-1970s R [19039]



Gold - Warden's Courts

We hold extensive and complex collections of records from the many Warden’s Courts that administered the goldfields throughout Otago and Southland. Almost all 19th century mining applications that we hold have now been listed individually by name on Archway. Work is still being done to make these records more accessible – please ask us for help and further information.

Please note that there were also Resident Magistrate’s Courts located in most of these areas. The District Court of the Otago Gold Fields also sat at Clyde, Queenstown, Naseby and Lawrence. See the Courts section above.


Coal mining leases, applications and registers can also be found amongst the records of the various Warden’s Courts.


  • Dunedin staff register 1861-1943 R [21442]

  • New Zealand Police Gazettes 1877-1989 R D

  • Diaries of duty and occurrence are held for many police stations within the Otago/Southland region R




Access to adoption records is restricted. Researchers are advised to contact:

Manager, Privacy Official Information Services

Privacy Official Information Team

Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children

PO Box 546

Wellington 6011

Central email:

Central telephone: (04) 918-9230