History (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about New Zealand history?
ContentsGeneral websites Local History websites Books
Entry last updated: 17/05/22
Aotearoa New Zealand has a unique story involving a variety of people, places and events. In this entry we'll show you the best websites and books to use to explore this history and find out what has happened in Aotearoa New Zealand in the past.
There are some excellent places to look for information and facts about important people, places and events in New Zealand's history.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- The tabs ( Stories A-Z, Te Reo Māori, Biographies etc) at the top of the page are one way of searching for information.
- Another way would be to scroll down the page to look at Sections, Biographies and Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories.
- Sections explores various aspects of New Zealand history, such as sport, people of New Zealand, the bush, government and more.
- Biographies covers the life stories of over 3,000 famous New Zealanders who are no longer living.
- Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories aims to increase awareness and understanding of Treaty settlements and their impact.
- You can also use the search bar at the top of the page to do a keyword search.
- Te Ara is bilingual so you can view information in English and te reo Māori.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.
NZHistory is another great website from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage on the history of New Zealand Aotearoa.
There are lots of different ways to use this website to find information, depending on what kind of history you are interested in.
- Information is split up into different areas like People, Places and Events.
- You can also look at Topics for things like Culture and Society, Politics and Government, and New Zealand at War.
- If you scroll down the page, you will find a link to Biographies. These are short life stories of famous people in the past and in the present.
- You can also use the search bar at the top of the page to type in search words like 'Gallipoli' or 'Hōne Heke'.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [Gallipoli]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.
EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and has databases that are useful for learning about the history of New Zealand.
- Check out the Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre Plus for newspaper and magazine articles focusing on New Zealand and Australia.
- Use the New Zealand Geographic Online for the entire archive of the New Zealand Geographic magazine. They have heaps of articles about history, so use keywords to search the articles.
- Use the Treaty of Waitangi Collection to access a collection of ebooks about the Treaty of Waitangi.
- Explore the New Zealand History Collection (BWB) a collection of ebooks on important events and people in New Zealand's history.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once. It has lots of primary sources.
- Use the search box to type in names, events or places in New Zealand
- Notice that the results are grouped by the type of information, like images, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.
- Here you will find lots of primary sources like letters, diaries, photographs and interviews.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.
Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of quality resources for students in a range of formats on a variety of topics. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.
- Choose the topic New Zealand History.
- Look at Related topics that appears on the right to find more New Zealand history topics on Topic Explorer.
Tips: We like these links because they have all been chosen by librarians, so the sites will be trustworthy. Read 'About Topic explorer' or the 'Topic Explorer guide' that appears on the right hand side of the main page to understand why Topic Explorer was created and what can be found in each of the sets.
Local History websites
Local history information can be difficult to find online. If you happen to live in a large centre, or where well-known events happened in the past, then there is more likely to be information about the history of your area. You can also try your local council or library. Many libraries will have dedicated pages set up for local history.
NZHistory has a few ways of looking up the history of your local area.
- Go to tab called Places, then select a region, then select the city, town or township you are looking for.
- Select the section called Culture and Society and explore Places and Memorials from the list that comes up.
- Scroll down to the end of the page and find Hands on History. Then select Links and Resources to find the link Links - local history.
- Or you could use the search bar and enter keywords for a local area.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Te Ara is another source of local history content.
- Go to Sections and find Places.
- Explore the major regions and their significant places, towns and townships.
- Also check out the External links and sources found on each of the major regions. These pages have links to local councils and books on the history of that area.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!
Here are a few books about general New Zealand history for you to look for at your school or local library. Your local librarian is a great person to ask for the best books about your local area.
- Awesome Aotearoa: Margaret Mahy's history of New Zealand by Margaret Mahy
- Illustrated history of New Zealand by Marcia Stenson
- The Penguin history of New Zealand illustrated by Michael King
- Reed illustrated history of New Zealand by Matthew Wright
- Māori peoples of New Zealand = Ngā iwi o Aotearoa by the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
SCIS no: 1832662
Where can I find information about New Zealand inventors and their inventions?
Treaty of Waitangi
Where can I find information about the Treaty of Waitangi - Te Tiriti o Waitangi?
Gold rush (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about the gold rushes in New Zealand?
Erebus disaster 1979
Where can I find information about the Erebus disaster in 1979?
Famous people (NZ)
Where can I find information about famous people in New Zealand?
Kiwiana (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about Kiwiana?
Springbok Rugby Tour 1981
Where can I find information about the Springbok Rugby Tour of 1981?
WW1 (primary sources)
Where can I find primary sources for World War One?
Immigration (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about immigration to New Zealand?
Where can I find facts and information about life in the Victorian era?
Cave Creek disaster 1995
Where can I find information about the Cave Creek disaster in 1995?
Disasters (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about disasters in New Zealand?
Nuclear-free New Zealand
Where can I find information about the nuclear-free movement in New Zealand?
Tangiwai disaster 1953
Where can I find information about the Tangiwai rail disaster in 1953?
Natural disasters (NZ)
Where can I find information about natural disasters in New Zealand?
Refugees (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about refugees coming to and living in New Zealand?
Ballantynes fire 1947
Where can I find information about the Ballantynes' fire in 1947?
Where can I find information about the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011?
New Zealand wars
Where can I find information about the New Zealand Wars during the 1840s to 1870s?
Sir Edmund Hillary
Where can I find information about Sir Edmund Hillary?
Wahine disaster 1968
Where can I find information about the Wahine disaster in 1968?
Hawke's Bay earthquake
Where can I find information about the Hawke's Bay earthquake in 1931?
Dawn Raids (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about the Dawn Raids in the 1970s in New Zealand?
Where can I find information on the Great Depression?
Early settlers (NZ)
Where can I find information about early European settlers of New Zealand?
Where can I find information about the Vietnam War?
Where can I find information about Pacific navigation?
Women's suffrage (NZ)
Where can I find information about women's suffrage in New Zealand?
WW2 (primary sources)
Where can I find primary sources for World War Two?
Where can I find information about Parihaka?
Where can I find information about Captain Cook?
First encounters (NZ)
Where can I find information about the first encounter between Māori and European explorers in NZ?
NZ first encounters
Discover resources related to the first encounter between Māori and European explorers in NZ.
Influenza pandemic 1918
Where can I find information about the flu (influenza) pandemic in 1918?
Where can I find information about the first and second Boer Wars?
Māori Land March 1975
Where can I find information about the Māori Land March in 1975?
Where can I find information about Māori history?
Pike River Mine disaster 2010
Where can I find information about the Pike River Mine disaster?
New Zealand Wars (1840s-1870s)
Where can I find information about the New Zealand Wars?
NZ colonial life
Discover resources related to colonial life in New Zealand 1769-1914.
World War Two (NZ involvement)
Where can I find information about New Zealand's involvement in World War Two?
Discover resources related to the history of New Zealand.
Women in Aotearoa
Discover resources related to women in Aotearoa.
Discover resources related to the history of women's suffrage and women's rights today.
Discover resources related to protests by Māori in New Zealand.
Māori history (post-European arrival)
Discover resources related to Māori history after European arrival.
NZ and the First World War
Discover resources related to New Zealand's role in World War One.
NZ and the Second World War
Discover resources related to New Zealand's involvement in World War Two.
Discover resources related to the Gallipoli campaign.
NZ and the Vietnam War
Discover resources related to New Zealand in the Vietnam War.
Discover resources related to protests in New Zealand.
Pacific Islands: 21st Century
Discover resources related to issues facing the Pacific Islands in the 21st century.
NZ film & photography (history)
Discover resources related to the history of New Zealand film and photography.
Discover resources related to the history of Wellington.
Māori religious movements
Discover resources related to Māori religious movements.
Where can I find information about world history?
Musket Wars (1810s-1830s)
Where can I find information about the Musket Wars?
Kiingitanga (Māori King movement)
Where can I find information about Kiingitanga – the Māori King movement?
World War One (New Zealand involvement)
Where can I find information about New Zealand's involvement in World War One?
NZ Wars: legacy and general resources
Discover resources related to the New Zealand Wars.
Discover resources related to Pacific culture, history and geography.
Kate Sheppard (1847-1934)
Where can I find information about Kate Sheppard?
World War Two (daily life)
Where can I find information about daily life during World War Two?
Where can I find information about the polio epidemic?
Mount Tarawera eruption 1886
Where can I find information about the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886?
Rainbow Warrior bombing 1985
Where can I find information about the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior?