Search for your ancestor, their occupation and their residence on the New Zealand Electoral Rolls. An invaluable census substitute, these records may help you chart your ancestor’s location, work and property.
Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies, but the New Zealand Electoral Rolls usually include the following information about your ancestor:
Property qualification (if any)
Electoral roll year
This is an index of New Zealand Electoral Rolls, which covers millions of individuals between 1853 and 1935 (with gaps). The information was sourced from a list of those registered on the electoral roll for voting purposes during the years in which both general and provincial elections were held.
Years covered in these records are: 1853-1864, 1865-1875, 1878, 1881, 1893, 1896, 1911, 1925, 1935
Given that New Zealand’s census records are not available, electoral rolls are an important census substitute providing similar information. All people who were eligible to vote were legally required to register on the electoral roll.
For historical context, New Zealand’s first parliamentary elections were held in 1853. The right to vote was defined according to sex, age, nationality and the possession of property in New Zealand.
In early elections, you had to be male, aged 21 or over, property-owning and a British subject in order to be an eligible voter. Those who were considered ‘aliens’, such as Chinese settlers, were specifically excluded. Anyone who had been convicted of a serious offence was also excluded until the completion of their sentence.
Maori men were in theory allowed to register and vote, but in reality most were excluded because their land was possessed communally, rather than under individual title. This was the case until in 1867, when Maori men were granted the right to vote without the property ownership requirement. It was not until 30 years later that this requirement was also repealed for British subjects.
Importantly, in 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote.
Please note that the 1935 rolls are PDF records, so after searching, you should check that your results include “Newspapers, books and directories” on the top left hand of your search results screen.