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Early statistical resources now online

Early statistical resources now online – Media release

21 August 2013

Good news, New Zealand. The woman drought of 1860 seems to have eased.

Following the release of the digitised New Zealand official yearbooks, digitised versions of early statistical resources dating from the 1840s to the start of World War I are now available on Statistics NZ’s website.

As an example, the 1860 yearbook shows that for the European population, there were approximately 70 females for every 100 males. This compares with Statistics NZ’s latest estimate of 100 females for every 97 males.

“These old documents have been available in archives and libraries, but getting them online where anybody can look at them is a window into the way of life in early New Zealand,” information management manager Evelyn Wareham said.

“For instance, the records show just one person was born on Stewart Island in 1855, and nobody died. Interestingly, there were three marriages that year – and two babies born the next year.”

Early census publications (1860–1916) provide information on life in early New Zealand, answering such questions as: What kind of houses did people live in? What did they do for a living?

The Official Handbook of New Zealand (1875–1892) covers everything from climate to crops to the cost of cottages. It was the forerunner of the New Zealand Official Yearbook.

A highlight of the 1890 Official Handbook of New Zealand is a map that shows how long it took to travel around New Zealand. “The trip from Auckland to New Plymouth overland was a three-day adventure by rail, horse, and canoe,” Ms Wareham said.

The earliest statistics go back to 1844 and are from Nelson, New Munster, and New Plymouth. Information from the 1857-58 Māori Census is also available.

A highlight of the Statistics of Nelson from 1843 to 1854 is a table that lists the number of people in prison, those who could not read or write, and those attending church or chapel.

Using the same technology as the digitised New Zealand official yearbooks, users can search the collections by typing in keywords, and copying and pasting tables of data into software like Excel.

To see a larger version of this map, go to The New Zealand Grand Tour.

Visit these digitised resources at:


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