Find out what working life was like for your New Zealand ancestors

The Department of Lands and Survey was established in 1876, when the provincial governments of the 1850s were abolished and national politics came to the fore in New Zealand.

The department was responsible for many different areas of work, from creating and maintaining Crown lands and roads and undertaking surveys, to monitoring immigration and administrating healthcare. The department even oversaw tourist resorts, although in subsequent years other departments took over some of these responsibilities.

The new focus on national politics was accompanied by a growing conviction that the future prosperity of the country was tied up with the transformation of bush to working farmland. The government was considered to be responsible for helping settlers succeed in New Zealand, so allowing access to land was critical. The Department of Lands and Surveys played an important role in establishing settlements across the country.

Explore the roll of officers now

Discover whether your ancestors were working in the Lands and Surveys Department

The New Zealand Lands and Surveys Department Nominal Roll of Officers is an index of 269 of the department’s staff members in 1901 (‘officers’ is simply another term for ‘staff’ – there’s no military implication). They include surveyors, draughtsmen and clerks and officers.

The information was sourced from a report to the New Zealand House of Representatives concerning these workers’ details of employment, so the records reveal fascinating details about working conditions at the turn of the century including length of service and pay rates.

The Lands and Survey Department employed a wide range of workers, including surveyors and assistant surveyors, lithographers, rangers, clerks, auditors, cadets (both male and female), and more.

The amount of information listed in these records varies, but the records can include the officer’s name, department, location, length of service, rate of pay as well as other comments and details of their employment.

Discover where your ancestors were in 1925

Explore the 1925 New Zealand Electoral Roll today

Electoral rolls are particularly important to New Zealand’s family historians, as there was no comprehensive national census taken until the late nineteenth century.

New Zealand electoral rolls were compiled during general and provincial election years. They listed the names of individuals from each electoral district who were qualified to vote, and everybody who was eligible was required to register on the electoral roll by law, even if they did not intend to vote.

1925 is a significant year, as Pākehā were legally required to register for the vote for the first time (this was extended to all adult Maoris in 1956). Women had been granted the vote in 1893 (New Zealand was the first country in the world to allow women’s suffrage), so the 1925 electoral roll is a particularly rich source for genealogists.

Our newly published collection of electoral rolls contains 774,758 records. Explore them now to find out where your ancestors were in 1925, and what their occupation was. Let us know what you discover!

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