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Family History Research : Explore and Discover

"That a people who have no pride in their remote ancestors; will never achieve very much that can be praised by their remote decendants" - Lord Macaulay

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Tracing your Family :

Essentially Church records are kept for the purpose of furthering the spiritual activity of the Church, however, they also hold significant historical value. The records enable us to understand the intrinsic tie between these two aspects of Church life. From local parish and national church records to reference books and biographical files the resources held in the Presbyterian Archives Research Centre can allow you to trace your Presbyterian family to add a further dimension to your family's story. The records provide not only personal details but also highlight the Christian witness revealed in the faith journeys of your ancestors.

General Guidelines :

  • Please telephone or email prior to your visit
  • Research Fees Apply. Refer to our fees & charges
  • Research services extend to Presbyterian holdings only
  • We maintain a visitors book which will indicate your research interest
  • Researchers will work with pencil only
  • Gloves will be provided fior handling fragile material and photographs
  • All materials need to be handled with care
Services Offered :
  • Professional Reference Staff to advise and assist
  • Readers'/Research Room
  • Photocopying services but this service is not offered for fragile documents
  • Photographic reproduction
  • Microfilm & fiche reader
  • Facilities to use lap top computers
  • Small kitchen for day researchers (donation for tea or coffee)
  • Limited Tours of our Facilities

Research by Mail / Email :

We welcome your enquiry. Although we accept telephone enquiries we would appreciate confirmation by email or letter.

  • Please ensure that your enquiry is clear with as many details as is possible, such as dates of birth and death, the full names of the people you are enquiring about
  • If you are able, please advise in which parish or district we should undertake your search
  • Your full address and contact details
  • Please note that payment for written requests is required in advance. We will advise research costs once these have been established
  • A postage charge will also apply.

Presbyterian Children's Home & Orphanage Records :

The Presbyterian Archives do not hold Presbyterian Children's Home and Orphanage records and your enquiry should be directed to the relevant Presbyterian Support Office (excluding Otago). Presbyterian Support are an autonomous organisation and we are unable to assist you in accessing any extant records. We are aware that many records are apparently missing or have been destroyed in fires. We do however hold photographs relating to Presbyterian Children's Homes in the Otago area and a number of old PSSA Annual reports for New Zealand which includes printed images of groups of children in the homes but no names. A research charge will apply should we need to access these publications.

Records for the Northhaven Children's Home in Timaru (1923 to 1966) are located in the South Canterbury Museum.

Photographs : The Archives holds a unique collection of over 85,000 photographic images, covering

  • Parish activities throughout New Zealand
  • Overseas, NZ Chinese, and Maori Missionary activity
  • Women's work
  • Youth work
  • Ordained Ministers and Deaconesses.

Many of the earlier collections and most Parish collections have now been described and the information input onto a fully searchable database. Please refer to our Photo Archives

Location of Parish Records :

Although an increasing number of parish records are held in the Archives Research Centre there continues to be collections held in regional repositories and local parishes. For a current list of locations click Here. Should a parish not be listed it can be generally assumed that the collection is retained by the parish. Addresses and contacts can be obtained from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand website. Most Parish appointed Archivists are acting in a voluntary capacity and a donation in aid of Parish funds is appreciated. The list of Lost Archives may prove useful in ascertaining early records which are no longer extant.



Margaret Jean McNeur

Margaret J. McNeur, daughter of the Rev George McNeur, taken c.1909


Christchurch Parish Records :
Having previously been stored off-site by the Christchurch Public Library, these records (including many West Coast Parish records) are now been transferred to the Archives Research Centre. Once cataloguing is completed (which we expect to take some months) this collection will provide a wealth of geneological information.


Presbyterian Archives Research Centre, Knox College, Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin 9010, New Zealand

PCANZ Burning BushCopyright © 2010 Presbyterian Church Archives Research Centre New Zealand