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Extensive Collection of NZ Cemetery Records Now Online

Extensive Collection of New Zealand Cemetery Records Now Available Online

More than 1.6 million records spanning two centuries from 1,400 cemeteries across the country digitised and made accessible to all

Almost all New Zealand cemeteries are represented in this collection
Database has taken more than 2,000 volunteers since the 1960s to compile
Ancestry providing free access to more than 35 million records, including this cemetery collection, this Waitangi Day weekend

Auckland, 2nd February, 2015 - A database of 1.6 million cemetery records which has taken more than 2,000 volunteers over four decades to produce is now available online on Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource.

Digitised by Ancestry from original headstone transcriptions by The New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007 is a hugely valuable resource for anyone wanting to discover more about their New Zealand family history.

Each record typically contains details such as name, birth date, death date, and cemetery name and plot location. They may also provide insightful details about a spouse, cause of death, military dates, an epitaph, or even a description of the headstone.

NZSG began transcribing the details on the headstones in the late 1960s and over the last four decades they have recorded information from headstones at almost every cemetery in New Zealand.

Inaccessibility made accessible
The records include transcriptions from many prominent cemeteries throughout the country as well as inaccessible graves from remote locations such as the Raoul Island Cemetery. The island is located 1000km north of New Zealand and is both geographically isolated and publicly inaccessible, as one can only visit with a landing permit from the Department of Conservation.

Chatham, Quarantine and Stewart Islands also feature in the collection, along with many private cemeteries that would otherwise not be accessible to the public.

A walk through New Zealand’s history
Stretching from 1800 to 2007, the records cover a large sweep of New Zealand’s history, including some fascinating and tragic episodes such as the Taraura Shipping Disaster. The SS Tararuawas a passenger steamship that struck the reef off Waipapa Point in Southland on 29 April 1881. Only 20 of the 151 people on board survived, with many of those who perished lain to rest in the remote Tarura Acre cemetery, near New Zealand’s first lighthouse which was subsequently built as a result of the disaster.

Free access this Waitangi Day long weekend to 35 million NZ records
To help New Zealanders learn more about their family histories over the Waitangi Day long weekend, Ancestry is opening up free the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007, as well as all of its New Zealand online databases – totalling more than 35 million records. The open access campaign will start on Friday 6th February from 12.01am through to Monday 9th February at 11:59pm, at

Ben Mercer, Content Director at Ancestry says “We are delighted to add this vital collection, which includes some of the earliest New Zealand records, to our already comprehensive New Zealand family history resource online. Each headstone has a story to tell that may unlock further discoveries of your ancestors’ pasts.

“This Waitangi Day, we’d encourage Kiwis to learn more about their ancestors by talking to older family members who may help kick-start the journey into your past.”

Gay Williams, President of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) says “The records were compiled by individual volunteers from the NZSG who would often drive and in some cases ferry to a number of geographically isolated areas in New Zealand. It would often take days if not weeks to transcribe a single cemetery. Many cemeteries get damaged over time. We have transcribed headstones that have fallen over, been destroyed by earthquakes or vandalised, as well as those which time has made unreadable, preserving this information for future generations.”

You can search over 35 million New Zealand records for free this long weekend at:

Ancestry ( is the world's largest online family history resource with more than 2 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 15 billion records have been added to the Ancestry sites and users have created more than 60 million family trees to the core Ancestry websites, including its flagship site and its affiliated international websites, such as Additionally, offers a suite of online family history brands, including,,, as well as the AncestryDNA product, sold by DNA, LLC, which, along with its core Ancestry websites, are all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.


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