History (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about New Zealand history?

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.

General websites

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

  • 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 databases

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.

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

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

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.

Local history links (NZHistory)

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.

SCIS no: 1832662
managed by
proudly supported by

Acceptable Use

Acceptable use means acting like a good citizen online. How you behave online should be the same as how you behave offline (in the real world). AnyQuestions is a free service, staffed by real people from libraries right around New Zealand. Please be respectful and polite to our librarians. We like helping people who show good manners :)

We may end a chat session if we think you are being inappropriate or misbehaving, this includes:

  • Using racist/sexist, offensive or obscene language.

    Please don’t use mean or cruel words when talking to or about someone else; whether they are a male or female, or of another race or skin colour. Obscene language means using words that would upset your grandparents!

  • Using the service to transmit messages that harass or threaten the operators.

    Please don’t be mean to our librarians or act like a bully.

  • Visiting an objectionable website while in session with an operator.

    An objectionable website means a website that you really wouldn’t want your grandparents looking over your shoulder at!

  • Deliberately time wasting in a way that denies service to other legitimate users.

    Time wasting means being silly and not working with our librarians. Time wasting means other students are not getting help, and that isn’t nice!

  • Any form of vandalism, including damaging computer systems or networks and knowingly introducing programs such as computer viruses and worms.

    You might be technically savvy and know about web viruses and worms and how they affect computers but please don’t spread these. It takes our attention away from helping you and other students.

  • AnyQuestions reserves the right to disconnect users at the operator’s discretion. AnyQuestions might also block access to the service for repeat offenders.

    If you act like a troll then we’ll end the chat. Remember everything digital or online can be traced and we can track it back to where you came from and/or your school. If you misbehave on AnyQuestions then we will be in touch with your school or we will block you from accessing AnyQuestions.