'Cyclopedia of New Zealand'

    Cover of Cyclopedia of New Zealand - black leather binding, gilt title spine, gilt emblem front.      The title page does acknowledge of the presence of women and Maori culture with the motif. On the left is an old sailing ship, a symbol of the colony's past, and replaced with the symbols of progress Western industrial agricultural prosperity on the right.   

"Valuable but stodgy"

There are around 20,000 people profiled in these texts, many of whom have biographical notes and photographs providing a snapshot of their activities and achievements.

Vol. # Provincial District		Year published  Website lookup	   No. pages 
Vol. 1 Wellington		  		1897 General Index 		1525
Vol. 2 Auckland			  		1902  				1024
Vol. 3 Canterbury Index		  		1903 				1116
Vol. 4 Otago and Southland	  		1905 City of Dunedin		1114 
Vol. 5 Nelson, Marlborough and Westland		1906 General Index		 615	
Vol. 6 Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wellington 	1908 				 767 			

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Vol. 3 was published by the Cyclopedia Company at 153 Manchester Street, Christchurch in 1903 and printed by Horace J. Weeks, Ltd, Christchurch. Part 4 covers South Canterbury. The Timaru section is 62 pages and the total area from the Rangitata to Waimate is covered in 213 pages. The South Canterbury section is preceded by the Mid Canterbury section. A must see for South Canterbury research. Images online.

Indexes: Temuka   Point  Waimate  Districts s. of Timaru  Peel Ft., Rangitara & Sutherlands

Page #s	District	  
866 -   Rangitata
868 -   Rangitata Island
869 -   Orton - rural district 7 miles east and below the Rangitata railway station
870-871	Orari		   
872-884 Geraldine	  
885-886	Woodbury	   
887-888	Peel Forest 
889-894 Winchester	  
894-896	Hilton		  
896-897	Kakahu		    
898-899	Gapes Valley	  
899-917	Temuka 
918	Ohape		    
919	Milford		    
920-924	Waitohi		  
924	Arowhenua	  	  
924-927	Seadown		  
928-929	Washdyke	  
929-931	Levels 	    	  
932	Kerrytown	  	  
932-939	Pleasant Point 
939	Opihi		  	  	
940-942 Totara Valley	  
942-943	Hazelburn	   
943-944	Sutherlands 
945-946	Cave		   
946-950	Albury		   	
950-951	Cricklewood	   
951-954	Mackenzie Country  
954-959	Fairlie		  
960	Silverstream	  
960-962	Burke's Pass	  
963-964	Tekapo		  
965	Pukaki	 

Out lying districts south of Timaru
and links for pages 
992-993  1027-1039   1045-1061  1080-1104  plus supplementary  (opens in a new window) 

966-  Timaru  index 
1027 - Wai-iti; Beaconsfield (Otipua)
1030 - Gleniti 
1031 - Claremont 
1032 - Fairview 
1035 - Saltwater Creek
1036 - Adair; Salisbury
1037 - Kingsdown
1039 - St. Andrews 
1045 - Southburn
1046 - Pareora
1049 - Lyalldale
1050 - Esk Valley
1051 - Otaio
1053 - Makikihi
1055 - Hunter
1056 - Hook
1059 - Studholme
1062 - 1079 Waimate 
1080 - Waituna
1081 - Arno
1082 - Waihoa Forks
1083 - Waihao Downs
1085 - Willowbridge
1088 - Morven
1096 - Glenavy
1099 - Redcliff; Hakataramea
1102 - Hakataramea Valley

1111 - Supplementary	
1112 - 1116 Supplementary continued - late entries and corrections      

Cyclopedia of New Zealand was published in six volumes between 1897-1908 by the Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch and contains historical and biographical facts and photographs of local identities, usually men, supplied by individuals or the families of those mentioned, who paid a 5 pound fee to be included. The aim at the time was to provide subscribers with information on the districts and "reconstruct from its pages the social and public life and industrial activity of the first half century of a province." i.e. colonisation, growth, present condition (at the turn of the century) and prospective future (always glowing!) The books are a rich resource of information. The book not only covers various regional areas but has sections on, Professions and Trades, Societies, Orders and Public Institutions. The 9" - 12" tall, a little unwieldy, volumes contain a section at the rear entitled, Supplementary, which covers late entries categorised into the various districts and an errata. 

Often the ship of arrival is mentioned, who they married and sometimes personal photo or a family group photo. The volumes give a brief description of each community with good b/w photographs of a feature of the town e.g. the main street, business, hotel or homestead or prized livestock. Photographers. Many libraries have the original volumes or the microfiche.  There is another similar but smaller work 1898 Industries of New Zealand.

The volumes are a wonderful resource but how accurate are these first hand account pen portraits?

It is essential to examine source material and not rely on published sources.  The information given should be verified for accuracy and be treated as a secondary source as it came from the submitter.  The identities usually wrote the entries themselves for inclusion and often recalled events and dates from memory and guessed when they couldn't remember and downplayed their humble origins.  They used the opportunity to 'promote' themselves in a better light than some perhaps deserved and some of their memories were pretty selective. Other worthy people may have been omitted because they chose not to subscribe or because they chose not to submit a biography. The subjects were prominent citizens who could afford to pay to be listed, so excludes almost all women and many poorer men. Vol.3, the Canterbury one, is not always accurate about the early days but the station accounts were supplied by the contemporary owners when it was compiled about 1900 and it should be reliable from about 1875 onward. Individuals who would not or could not pay the fee required to feature in The Cyclopedia are not included. There are few entries for women, Maori or non-European settlers.

The pen the portraits are invariably flattering: in the publishers' words, the compilers have recognised the advisability of representing the various subjects of notice as they individually appeared to themselves and their friends, in their best and happiest moments, rather than as they might have appeared to their enemies, at their worst. Similarly, many of the business entries are unashamedly promotional business owners were, effectively, buying advertising for their products and services.  The information published about two colonist certainly has retained elements of accuracy, there is some information which is neither accurate nor factual and if the ancestor concerned supplied the information then all I can say is that they chose not to let the truth get in the way of a good story!

Nearly all published biographical stories garnish the truth and those that are published during the lifetime of the subject, whether written by the subject or not, are influenced by the subject's desire to be presented in the best possible light. So the positive is enhanced and the negative omitted.  These deficiencies are not confined to the NZ Cyclopedia. If 'great' things are being said about an individual, there's a chance it'll be backed up by local newspapers; club & society memberships and minutes; trade directories &c. Even place of birth mentioned in such publications can be misleading if the individual prefers it not to be known just where he really was born! Another resource we are all too inclined to believe without question is said common and garden Trade Directory. Often names remained in it long after the individual was dead. Often the next generation maintaining it as a business name.

I haven't been able to find some of their names on the passenger lists but maybe they came out as cabin passengers or crew or the year they came out is off by a year or two. Watch out for spelling of place names and ship's names and the year of arrival for ship's can be out by a year or so. One colonist did not even correctly name the ship which brought him from Liverpool to Australia. He came free, but this was a common way used by freed convicts endeavouring to hide their past. He left out the details of why he left Sydney for Nelson.

The information they provided was as accurate as memory and honesty permitted.

The Cyclopedia of Otago & Southland. Edited by Paul Sorrell. A collection of paid subscriber entries and photographs, topical essays and descriptive articles. Publisher: Dunedin City Council, 1999.  2 v. 1216 pp Published as part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Otago & Southland. Includes index of subscribers.

Volume One: Wellington Provincial District-which weighs 5.1 kilograms in hard copy-was produced in 1897.


Women's first names were generally not recorded e.g. the daughter of Mr. .... and has a family of.... ...daughters and ....sons so helpful in working out how many children.  A married woman was always known by her husband's name - i.e. Mrs John Leishman. She would revert to her own name when she was widowed - Mrs Margaret Leishman and her maiden name, Smith, not mentioned even in her own obituary. It was considered bad form to address her otherwise, and many women would be offended if you did. There are some autobiographies of professional women e.g. schoolteachers.  It was disappointing to read the women were not named by their first name but sometimes maiden names are mentioned.  Few women names were included in the indexes of the six volumes but a index on four microfiche has been published Women Named in Cyclopedia of New Zealand compiled by Madelaine Morton and mentions their maiden names. Arranged by province and indexed alphabetically by name. A NZGS publication.


The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition has a 14-page section starting on page 132 dedicated to Military. This section deals with the various Militia and Battalions present in the Canterbury area from the time of Canterbury's founding in 1850 till when the Cyclopedia was printed in 1903. There are also a number of photographs of the various officers associated with these militia and battalions.

Various items pertaining to South Canterbury are found the within Military section. e.g.
Page 137 - 1st Battalion South Canterbury Mounted Rifles 
         Major John Turnbull
         Capt. G P Wood
         Capt. G A M Buckley (photo) 
Page 142 - South Canterbury Infantry Battalion 
         Lieut. Colonel Walter Montegur Moore
         Lieut. Colonel Jowsey CMG (photo) 
         Capt. Sidney Wolf (photo)
         Capt. Edward Cutten
         Ven. Archdeacon Harper (Hon. Chaplain)
         Capt. John Lillie Gillies (photo)
         Capt. E Richardson
Page 144 
         Capt. Ernest Thomas (photo) 
         Capt. Herbert Clifford Barclay; 
         Capt. Kenneth MacKenzie (photo) 
         Lieutenant J R Montgomery


Page 990
    James Hay
    Miles Jefferson Knubley
    Joseph Harold Moore
    Perry, Perry and Kinnerney
    Smithson and Raymond
    Tripp and Rolleston
    John William White


Page 991
    Hedley Vicars Drew
    Richard Bowen Hogg
    Robert Stuart Reid
    Charles Ernest Thomas


Page 991
    Bartram Percy Ginders
    Norman Kershaw Cox [University of Michigan, School of Dentistry,  graduated 1890]  Norman Cox in Timaru, acted as Honorary Dentist for the public hospital from 1896 to 1909
    Cuthbert Henry Gresson
    William Gunn
    Thomas Griffiths Rowley
    John Charles Scott


Page 991
    William Gunn
    John Crosfield Oddie

Where to obtain the Cyclopedia?

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand volumes are available in the reference section at many libraries around New Zealand and Australia in hardcopy or microfiche and online.

Local library

The Timaru District Library does hold  all six volumes including the the Canterbury edition of the Cyclopedia of New Zealand.  It is held the Stack room and if you ask at the Help Desk in the adult area the staff will get if for you. Reference Only. 
South Canterbury Genealogy has as all the volumes in their library at the S. Cant. museum
The Waimate Museum has an extensive collection of South Canterbury books including the Cyclopedia of New Zealand series.
Aotearoa New Zealand Centre located at the Central City Library Christchurch has a copy of the Canterbury edition as does the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. 
Mosgiel Library has the Canterbury and the Otago/Southland volumes for reference only.
The Lincoln University, Masterton District Library, New Plymouth and the Waikato Museum
Hamilton City Libraries have all six volumes. Many libraries will have the entire series.

Dunedin Public Library has all six volumes in the McNab Room, 3rd floor.

The Kaikoura Museum has the Canterbury volume.

The Christchurch Central Library- Reference section
Christchurch Polytechnic Inst of Tech

"My father picked them up for me one at a time at Morton's Auction house in Timaru when they came up for sale, years ago. The Canterbury volume is the only one that has been rebound." TW, B.C.

Bookfinder The books can still be purchased through used bookstores or second hand book stores may be able to order the book. $NZ150 - $350 approximately.  

Another option is to buy the microfiche or CD. 
On 71 microfiche (1987) from BAB Microfilming  
 MacBeth's Genealogical Services has each edition of
Cyclopedia on fiche
Gould Book Stores

The NZSG Strays & More Collection included:
1902 Vol. 2. Auckland 

1908 Vol. 6. Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington Provincial Districts.

All True, below: 

I inherited this Cyclopedia, originally owned by one of my great-grandfathers, thus has been in the family for a few years!
It is well used, well loved, and in a rather "battered" conditio


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Fifty Gold Rush Immigrants wayback
Wellington printing history
1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand

"Cyclops!" - 'The Cyclopedia of New Zealand' 

"All biographical dictionaries face the problem of selection. The 'Cyclopedia of New Zealand'  had a simple solution in that those who wished to appear in its pages had to pay for the privilege, as well as provide information about themselves. Although this may mean critical information is usually suppressed, such volumes are of value in that entries are wide ranging and often include information not available elsewhere."

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project