Frequently Asked Questions
Here we answer questions we’re often asked by customers interested in Genealogy and tell you how the Library can help.
Where do I start?
We suggest that any initial research into your family history begins with your living relatives. Talk to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to see what can be learned from them.
Follow up by looking through any family documents such as diaries, Bibles, scrapbooks and photograph albums.
Next, become familiar with some basic genealogical skills and resources.
There are a number of “how to” guides in the City Library and at Community Libraries. These are located in the 929 Dewey sequence and most can be borrowed. These items are very popular and there may be a waiting period.
There are also a number of websites that are well worth a look:
- The New Zealand Society of Genealogists has a helpful website on getting started.
- New Zealand History Online maintains a list of genealogical resources and guides.
- The National Library maintains a New Zealand Family History page.
Once you feel you have done all you can from home, need to consult materials you cannot borrow or just want a little guidance, please visit the Genealogy Room located on the third floor of the City Library.
We recommend you bring as much information as possible (e.g. any dates, certificates, alternate spellings of surname if known etc.) when visiting genealogical research centres. This will enable staff to better assist you in your research.
What do you have?
Have a look at our Genealogical Resources page for a description of the materials we hold that may be of help.
Can I search local cemeteries?
Yes. The Dunedin City Council maintains a database of Dunedin cemeteries.
Does it cost to use these resources?
Anyone can use Heritage Collections materials free of charge. We charge for copying.
If you are new to genealogical research or unfamiliar with this part of the City Library, please ask a staff member at the reference desk for assistance.
Research charges may apply for phone, mail and email inquiries.
Do you have birth, death and marriage certificates, and can I get a copy?
We do not hold copies of these records. To receive a copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate, please contact:
The Department of Internal Affairs: Births, Deaths and Marriages
P O Box 10-526,
Level 3, Boulcott House
47 Boulcott Street
Ph: +64 4 474 8150 or 0800 22 5252 (New Zealand only)
Fax: +64 4 382 3515 (for certificate and printout orders)
Fax: +64 4 382 3613 (for general enquiries)
Please be aware that a charge will apply.
Do you have passenger shipping lists?
Yes, mainly for the Dunedin and Otago region.
Details of what shipping lists are held can be found on our Rolls and Shipping page.
Where else can I go for genealogical resources in Dunedin?
In addition to the materials held at the Dunedin Public Libraries, the following Dunedin institutions might also be of help:
Archives New Zealand
556 George Street, Dunedin
Ph: +64 3 477 0404
The Hocken Library
Corner of Anzac Ave and Parry Street, Dunedin
Ph: +64 3 479 8879
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
31 Queens Gardens, Dunedin
Ph: +64 3 477 5052
Presbyterian Archives Research Centre
Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin
Ph: +64 3 473 0776 / 0777