History (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about New Zealand history?
Image: View of Taupō Kainga from the Taua Tapu (Pukerua) Track, Plimmerton, from Archives New Zealand on flickr.
Entry last updated: 31/05/19
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.
- For an overview of New Zealand history to get you started, scroll down to the Sections area and click on New Zealand in Brief. Then click on History.
- Here you can find information about Māori arrivals, European arrivals, war, politics and social change. Click on each of the headings to take you through.
Te Ara also has a Biographies section with stories about people's lives. You can find the information in a few different ways.
- Browse the names listed in the A-Z (they are listed alphabetically by their last name, so click on the letter their surname starts with).
- Search using their name as a keyword.
- Browse for biographies by occupation.
Once names appear, you can hover over the names to see their dates of birth, death, and what they were famous for.
Te Ara is split into lots of different section, and there will be historical information in each of these sections. Explore the site by searching with different keywords, depending on what you are researching.
Tips: 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.
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.
Tips: NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.
- Check out the Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre for newspaper and magazine articles focusing on New Zealand and Australia.
- Use the New Zealand Geographic Archive 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 books and resources about the Treaty of Waitangi.
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 6pm 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, and has lots of primary sources. The results are grouped by the type of information, like images, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.
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 (eg articles, books, images, videos, primary sources, sets, websites) on a variety of topics. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.
Choose the topic New Zealand History to find lots of information.
Tips: We like these links because they have all been chosen by librarians, so the sites will be trustworthy. It is a good idea to find the About link on each site, to see what the sites mission and values are.
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.
If you are looking for history about your local area, a good place to start is with this collection of links set up by NZHistory. Just click on the area of New Zealand you are researching!
You can also try your local Council or Library. Many libraries will have dedicated pages set up for local history. Your local librarian is a great person to ask for the best books about your local area.
Here are a few books about general New Zealand history for you to look for at your school or local library.
- Awesome Aotearoa Margaret Mahy's History of New Zealand by Margaret Mahy (great for Senior Primary Level)
- Illustrated History of New Zealand by Marcia Stenson (great for Senior Primary and Junior Secondary)
- 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.