Events of Otago

Many things have happened that have had an impact on Otago. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Colour photo of a memorial to Parihaka prisoners who died in the 19th century.

Image: "Rongo" by Paul S Allen. Collection: He Purapura Marara | Scattered Seeds. Courtesy of Dunedin Public Libraries.

Which events can I learn about?

Here are some events related to Otago you could find out about:


Sealers and whalers arrive.

Find out about Otago sealing and whaling
13 June 1840

13 June 1840
Treaty of Waitangi signed at Otago Heads.

Find out about the Treaty signing
31 July 1844

31 July 1844
New Zealand Company buys the Otago Block from Ngāi Tahu.

Find out the Otago Block land sale

The Lawrence Chinese camp established 1.2 kms outside the town.

Find out about the Otago Gold Rush and Chinese goldminers

The Parihaka prisoners are sent to Dunedin.

Find out about the Taranaki prisoners
April 9 1932

April 9 1932
During Great Depression, unemployed workers in Dunedin protest when the Hospital Board refused to help them.

Find out about unemployment disputes

Tips: These are just some examples of events you could research. You may have something different you're interested in finding out about. Just use words related to the event as your search terms in the resources below.

Otago resources

These collections and websites from Otago look at events that have happened in the past.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

This is the website of Ngāi Tahu. It has information about the Ngāi Tahu Settlement and claim history.

  • Go to the Ngāi Tahu tab

  • Under History, choose Ngāi Tahu Settlement.

  • Choose a topic from the list to find out more.

Tips: Some websites have .iwi in their url. This tells you that the website belongs to an iwi and likely has Māori knowledge (mātauranga Māori).

He Purapura Marara | Scattered Seeds

This collection has been put together by Dunedin Public Libraries. It includes photos, documents, audio and more.

  • Enter a place as a keyword to search.

  • Then select an item to find out more.

  • Or, browse by selecting Events.

  • Choose a place to find related items.

Tips: Stories can be told in different ways. It’s a good idea to look at multiple information sources about a topic to help you put together your own narrative.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākau

This is the site of the Hapū at Ōtākau. It has information about their histories including biographies.

Dunedin & Otago Newspapers

Back issues of many Dunedin and Otago newspapers are available in the McNab New Zealand Collection of the Dunedin City Library, either on microfilm or in paper copy and are available to look at during the library's opening hours.

  • Visit the collection on the third floor of the Dunedin City Library.

  • Some online and digital resources can be accessed by going to the blue links and searching.

Tips: Historical sources like newspapers can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

The Reed Gallery is located on the third floor of the City Library, Moray Place, Dunedin. The gallery showcases materials held in the heritage collections, including rare books. Each exhibition is on display for around four months.

  • The current and earlier exhibitions are available to view online.

  • Select an exhibition to explore and view what was in the cases.

Central Otago: A World of Difference

This site comes from the Central Otago District Council. It has information about its history, including the Otago gold rush.

Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes Libraries local History

Here we can find resources and collections of the local history of the area and more.

  • Select a resource to find out more about it.

Clutha Heritage

This website comes from Clutha District Libraries and other Clutha community groups. It includes images, documents, video, audio and more.

  • Enter a keyword in the search bar.

  • Or browse by selecting a collection or type of resource eg images.

Tips: You can use names of people, groups, places and events as keywords for your searches. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Hocken Snapshop

An online collection of photographs from the Hocken Library that focusses on Aotearoa's people and places.

  • Enter a word related to an event in the search bar and choose an item to take a closer look.

  • Or browse by selecting a name or letter under Browse our collection.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have good information about the history of New Zealand including Otago.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand provides an in depth guide to our environment, history, culture and society. It consists of a series of topic based sections. It is owned by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so we know that the information is well researched and reliable.

  • Enter your keyword into the search box at the top of any page.

  • Results will come from throughout the site and may include text and images.


New Zealand History is a great website to use when searching for information about events, people and places in New Zealand's past. The website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so we know the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter your keyword in the search box at the top of the page.

  • Or, you can browse events using the Events tab.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


DigitalNZ searches online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites in one place. It groups results by the type of information and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter your keywords in the search box.

  • Then select from the range of formats like images, videos, newspapers, articles or manuscripts.

  • You can also filter by choosing from the red tabs such as decades and date range.

Papers Past - Newspapers

This is a searchable collection of early NZ newspapers (19th and 20th centuries) by the National Library and its partners.

  • Search using keywords related to an event.

  • Or you can browse newspapers from Northland by going to the tab

    By Region.

  • Then select Otago.

  • Select a newspaper to choose one to read or search within.

Tips: If your keyword doesn’t work, try thinking of other words you could use. Sometimes there are different names or spellings for words. Or they could have changed over time.

The Aotearoa History Show

This video podcast from Radio New Zealand tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand from when the land was formed to today.

  • Select an episode to watch or listen to.

  • Look under the video for the topics that the podcast covers.

Te Arawhiti | The Office for Māori Crown Relations

This government website has information about Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

  • Select Te Kāhui Whakatau (Treaty Settlements).

  • Then choose Find a Treaty settlement.

  • Look down the page to find the Deeds of Settlement for the iwi you're looking for.

  • The summary documents are good to start with and have an overview and historical background.


Here are a few books about general Otago history for you to look for at your school or local library.

SCIS no: 5496529

More about Otago

People of Otago

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Otago.

Learn about people of Otago

Places of Otago

There are many places that are significant to Otago | Ōtākau. Find out about the histories of these places.

Learn about places of Otago