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Searchable shipping lists tell of family history

Hon Judith Tizard
Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand

28 August 2008 Media Statement

Searchable shipping lists tell of family history

An exciting new project with the international organisation FamilySearch of Utah will bring to life the wealth of information held in ship passenger lists, Archives Minister Judith Tizard announced today.

Speaking to the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand Judith Tizard said the shipping lists contain a who’s who of New Zealanders who travelled here by boat and are an important resource for many families wanting to find out about their history.

“Up until the mid 1970s New Zealanders were either born here, or travelled here by ship,” she said. “Archives New Zealand holds ships' passengers lists with some ten million names.

“The lists tell us where people came from, how old they were when they arrived and facts about their lives and families. The result of this upcoming work will be detailed indexes of all the information.

“These searchable indexes and images will be available world wide via FamilySearch and Archives New Zealand websites. The online indexes will link the user to a detailed digital reproduction of the relevant passenger list.

“Without the indexes the shipping lists would be very hard to search.

“Digitisation must be the way of the future. Through digitisation New Zealanders will have ready access to the wealth of information and materials in our archives.

“Today people expect the historical records that tell their family and community stories will be available online.

“They want to be able to search the large volume of archival information and so indexing this information is just as critical if it is to be found. “

Judith Tizard said Archives New Zealand is currently digitising some valuable holdings including the Otago and Southland pastoral runs register from 1870 to 1960 and the Blue Books; these books of New Zealand’s national statistics from 1840 to 1855, are some of our oldest and most valuable records and are of huge social value.

Records from the first four ships are now going up on the Christchurch online gallery available through the Archives New Zealand website. Eventually all the digital images will be available through Archway, Archives New Zealand’s finding aid.


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