BMD registers

This guide was last updated in 2009

Voluntary registration of European births and deaths in New Zealand commenced in 1848. It was made compulsory in 1856, as was the registration of European marriages, which had started in 1854.

The registration of Maori marriages became compulsory in 1911 and Maori births and deaths were registered from 1913. There were separate indexes for Maoris and “Pakehas” (white New Zealanders of European descent) for these events up until 1952 (in the case of marriages) or 1961 (births and deaths). From those dates onwards, entries are to be found in the same index.

Pre-1876 records provide limited information along the lines of the UK certificates, whereas later entries are more detailed. For example, a birth entry from before 1876 will show the name of the child, birthplace and date, names of the parents and occupation of the father. Later, post-1876, certificates also include the age and birthplace of each parent and the date of their marriage.

Prior to 1880, marriage entries record the date of the marriage, names of the two parties, their ages and the occupation of the bridegroom. After 1880, the birthplaces of the parties are given, together with the names of both of their parents, and occupations of their fathers.

Pre-1876 death entries give the name, age, occupation and residence of the deceased, while those post-1876 also include details about their parents, place of birth and length of residence in New Zealand. Details of the place of burial are also included, together with information about the spouse, the place of their marriage, and the ages of any children of the union.

The birth, marriage and death indexes are not currently available online, although there are plans for this in the future. Many reference libraries may have microfiche copies, of them, however. For certificates or printouts, contact the Department of Internal Affairs – Births, Deaths and Marriages section.

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