RESEARCHING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Auckland War Memorial Museum's research focuses on Tāmaki Makaurau, Biodiversity, Human Impacts, Conflict and Peace, Aotearoa New Zealand: Evolving Identities, Indigenous cultures and knowledge systems. While our collections may include taonga, documents, objects and data that relate to your family and whakapapa research, it is not generally a collection strength. Our collections do have some resources that could be helpful to supplement your family research.
If you're new to researching your family history, the National Library also has a handy guide called “Starting with family history”.
For family history researchers in Auckland, the Auckland Libraries Research Centres at the City Central, Takapuna, Waitākere Central and Manukau branches, have specialists are on hand to help you with family history, whakapapa, and local history research. We highly recommend their services.
Our Documentary Heritage collection spans manuscripts, Museum Archives, maps and plans, ephemera, serials, Auckland newspapers, books and other publications. The collection also includes an extensive range of photographic materials, paintings, drawings and prints. We may have material which relates to you and your family, you can search this collection on our Collections Online.
You are welcome to view and research using our Documentary Heritage Collection in the Research Library which is open by appointment.
Additionally, you are able to access the Ancestry Database onsite at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, computers are available for use in Pou Maumahara and the Research Library.
MILITARY HISTORY AND ONLINE CENOTAPH
Online Cenotaph is the nation's online biographical military database, if you have family members who served for New Zealand's military forces they will most likely be on Online Cenotaph.
Family members and researchers are able to contribute to Online Cenotaph. Adding information to every field of an Online Cenotaph record, you can find more information on contributing to Online Cenotaph on our "How to Contribute" page.
Online Cenotaph has a physcial home in the Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre, our helpful volunteers look after this space and are available to help with your enquiries.
The Online Cenotaph team is more than happy to help with your family military research enquiries, please feel free to contact the team with your questions.
WORLD WAR ONE
Military personnel files are incredibly helpful for learning more about your ancestors' service. Personnel files tend to record the movements of a person during their time in service, they include information on embarkations overseas, transfers to other units, promotions, details on injuries and illnesses, and which medals your ancestor was awarded.
The vast majority of personnel files for the First World War have been digitised by Archives New Zealand. You can find links to your ancestors personnel file, at the bottom of your ancestors Online Cenotaph record, under the sources section. You can also find them via Archives New Zealand's Archway site.
Archives New Zealand has also put together a helpful document about what is in a personnel file.
Another helpful resources for deciphering the military personnel file is the list of abbreviations and acronyms from New Zealand History
OVERSEAS SERVICE IN WORLD WAR ONE
Many New Zealanders also served with overseas forces, such as the Australia Imperial Force, British Army, or the Canadian Expeditionary Force. These service men and women are also eligible to be on Online Cenotaph so long as they were either born in New Zealand or spent a significant time in New Zealand prior to serving overseas. The Online Cenotaph team are happy to create these records on your behalf, you can fill out this form here or contact the team.
Helpful resources for servicemen and women who served with other forces are listed below.
Discovering the Anzacs
National Archives of Australia
Australian War Memorial
Libraries and Archives Canada
Lives of the First World War
Many of the personnel records for those who served for British forces during the First World War were destroyed in the Blitz during the Second World War, as a result many are now classed as missing or have severe fire damage.
WORLD WAR TWO
Records from 1 January 1921, are still held by the New Zealand Defence Force Archives, you can apply for a copy of personnel files from the Second World War, directly from them.
Online Cenotaph has also been working with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and Veterans Associations to create records for New Zealand's service person's from post-1945 conflicts, such as Jayforce, Korean War, Malaya, Vietnam and peacekeeping operations.
We also have put together a helpful resource list for researching your families military history.
While many of New Zealand soldiers had portraits taken prior to embarkation in the First World War, it was not a requirement of their enlistment.
Many of the Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force can be found in P.J. Beatie and M.J. Pomeroy's, Onward: Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Our Pou Maumahara gallery and Research Library have copies of all five volumes of Onward, as would most public libraries. You can find a index of all those who are featured in Onward.
Auckland Libraries Heritage Images, has digitised the Auckland Weekly News series which often has portraits from the First and Second World War. We do find it helpful to search with the service persons initials and last name.
The National Army Museum has digitised their collection of photographs and photo albums from the First World War, you can search their collection of photographs.
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand has also digitsed part of their photograph collection, you can search their photographs.
CONTACTING FAMILY MEMBERS
Often relatives have left notes, or contributed information to their loved ones Online Cenotaph records, if they have made themselves contactable, you can find them under contributors, by clicking the envelope next to their name and new email should open up with their email address.
You can also leave a note on an Online Cenotaph record reaching out to other family members.
We are always happy to help with trying to find family members, you can contact the Online Cenotaph team to see if we may have any additional information to help with your search.