Nelson Provincial Museum - catalogue of holdings
Nelson Provincial Museum


Nelson Provincial Museum is the museum of social history
of Nelson City and Tasman District.

The Museum cares for an estimated 1.4 million artefacts and specimens, including newspapers and documents, Maori taonga, plans and maps, archives, drawings and paintings, domestic and technical objects, and a nationally acclaimed collection of photographic negatives and prints.

Nelson Provincial Museum
Museum of Nelson City & Tasman District

Isel Park, Hilliard Street, Stoke
PO Box 853, Nelson, New Zealand

Phone/Fax: 03 - 547 9740
Fax: 03 - 547 8549


SERVICE CHARGES from 1 September 1999

Museum service charges are used to offset the costs of collection care and service delivery. The Museum reserves the right to review these charges at any time. All prices include GST.

Photocopying is charged separately. Prices available on request.


Note: Due to Building alteration and in preparation for the move to Town Acre 445, the following will apply
Reference Library & Archives
Weekdays   12.30pm to  4.30pm
Photo Sales 
Weekdays   12.30pm to  4.30pm
Collection Services
Weekdays   12.30pm to  4.30pm
Closed as from June 2003
Appointments are required to view some items from the Archives & Photographic Collections.
Contact staff for more information.

The Museum is only closed on Christmas Day.


Toilets including, wheelchair access, are located to your right just inside the main entrance.

Refreshments are not available at the Museum. The Stoke Shopping Centre, including supermarkets, café, bar, bakery and tea-rooms, is located nearby on Main Road, Stoke.



Nelson Provincial Museum
Museum of Nelson City & Tasman District

Isel Park, Hilliard Street, Stoke
PO Box 645, Nelson, New Zealand

Phone/Fax: 03 - 547 9740

The Museum's reference library was developed with financial assistance from the Bett Trust and features a comprehensive collection of books and documents that can be used for local and family history research. Material may not be borrowed. Some photocopying is available under NZ Copyright Act.

If you are unfamiliar with our library & archives, contact the Museum's Curator Archive Collections to find out how you can make best use of the resources listed below.

1. Biography Index

A card index filed alphabetically by surname, giving information from various sources (such as jury lists or shipping lists). Some references to other sources of information such as biography files and newspapers.

2. Birth, Death and Marriage Notices, 1842-1920, 1981-1998

Birth, death and marriage notices have been transcribed from local newspapers and are indexed alphabetically.

3. Cemetery Records

Headstone transcriptions and burial records are available for many cemeteries in the Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast area.

4. Census Records 1845, 1849

Population censuses in the Nelson district and outlying areas (such as Wairau) were held in 1845 and 1849. The Returns are available with an alphabetical index. The 1845 census gives the name, address, occupation, number in the family and amount of land occupied. The 1849 census gives further details such as ages of family, religion, crops and livestock.

5. Church Records

Roman Catholic

Marriages 1844-1913
Baptisms 1845-1900

Marriages 1853-1935
Baptisms 1917-1951

Baptisms 1846-1906
Marriages 1849-1920
Deaths 1848-1909
Church of Christ

Marriages 1891-1950 (Spring Grove)
Marriages 1898-1919 (Nelson)


6. Cyclopedia of NZ

The Cyclopedia was published in six volumes in the early 1900s and contains brief biographies and photographs of local identities who paid a fee to be included. Volume 5 covers Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast.

7. Electoral Rolls 1853-1896

Rolls for 1853-1877 are divided into electoral districts and include Buller and Wairau. For 1865-1896, there are microfilms of rolls for the whole country. (Microfilms are housed upstairs, mezzanine floor).

20th Century
Very few electoral rolls held for 1900-1960. Holdings include:

8. Freeholders' List 1882

In 1882, the government published the Return of the Freeholders of New Zealand which gives an alphabetical list of people owning land at that time. Information includes the location, area and value of the property.

9. Jury Lists 1843-1861

A list of people required for jury service was published each year in the newspaper. These lists give the person's name, brief address and occupation.

10. Lucas's Nelson Almanac and Yearbook 1871 -1966 (incomplete set)

Published annually - included a small directory section listing local businesses, postmasters, hotels, churches, friendly societies etc. for Nelson and district. Some issues contain listings for Lyell, Reefton, Karamea & Westport. Ask staff to view particular years.

11. Newspapers

Ask staff to view particular issues.
Strip-copies of newspaper columns are available on request.

12. Passenger Lists 1840-1880

Passenger Lists vary in the amount of detail given. Greatest detail is available for assisted immigrants sponsored by:

Brief passenger listings from local newspapers are also available and include Trans-Tasman and coastal shipping.

13. Personal Papers

Material in our archives includes personal papers, diaries, journals, and reminiscences. These are listed under name and subject in the "Archives" section of the card catalogue. Family histories are deposited in manuscript and book form - check both "Archives" and "Publications" sections of the catalogue.
Note: There may be restrictions on access to some material.

14. Photographs

The Museum has a collection of over 1.2 million original negatives, which includes portraits from the 1860s onwards. These images were taken only in the Nelson region. Search fees may apply to some requests. For further details, enquire at Museum Reception or write to:

Curator Photographic Collections, Nelson Provincial Museum
PO Box 645, Nelson, New Zealand
Phone/Fax: 03 - 547 9740 Email:

15. Photo News (Nelson) 1960-1974, 1983

Photo News was a weekly pictorial magazine. It included photos of weddings, recent engagements, sporting, social and theatrical events in Nelson. Negatives are held for most issues from 1960 - 1970. An index to the weddings included is held in the library with other marriage notices. Ask staff to view particular issues.

16. Postal Directories

The library holds a few postal directories prior to 1900 and an incomplete set until 1947.

17. Published Family and Local Histories

The Library holds copies of published local and family histories. The collection also includes general texts on New Zealand history, costume, transport etc. These are listed in the card catalogue marked "Publications". Books are classified using the Dewey Decimal System - use the Dewey number (e.g. 920 CAM) to locate the item on the shelf.

18. Rating Records

19. Records of local businesses & organisations

The archives collection contains records of local businesses, organisations and societies e.g. Women's Division of Federated Farmers, Ancient Order of Foresters, E. Buxton & Co., Roads Boards, Nelson Provincial Scottish Society, Nelson Badminton Association, Nelson Chamber of Commerce. Check the "Archives" section of the card catalogue. Ask staff to view particular items.

20. School Records

21. Telephone directories

Most Nelson directories from 1938 to the present.

22. Vertical File

Alphabetical subject files of biographical and general information. Includes obituaries, which are listed in the Biography Index.

Nelson Provincial Museum
Museum of Nelson City & Tasman District

Isel Park, Hilliard Street, Stoke
PO Box 853, Nelson, New Zealand

Phone: 03 - 547 9740
Fax: 03 - 547 8549


Addresses of other Museums in this region

Golden Bay Museum
69 Commercial Street
Ph/Fax (03) 525 9990
Research by appointment
Motueka District Museum
140 High Street
Ph/Fax (03) 528 7660

Picton Community Museum
P O Box 120
Ph (03) 573 8283
Marlborough Historical Society
Brayshaw Museum Park
New Renwick Road
PO Box 308
Ph (03) 578 1712
Murchison & District Historical & Museum Society
60 Fairfax Street
PO Box 108
Ph (03) 523 9392
West Coast Historical Museum
Tancred Street
PO Box 180
Ph/Fax (03) 755 6898

Greymouth's History House
Old Grey County Council Chambers
Gresson Street
Ph (03) 768 4028

Black's Point Museum
Main Highway
PO Box 10
Colin Watts Ph (03)732 8808
Tony Lewis Ph (03)732 8397

© 2000-2007 Nelson Provincial Museum.