Find your ancestors in New Zealand, Electoral Rolls 1853-1935

NEW ZEALAND ELECTORAL ROLLS, 1853-1864, 1865-1875, 1878, 1881, 1893, 1896, 1911, 1935

In 1852 the British Parliament passed the New Zealand Constitution Act, establishing a General Assembly (Parliament) comprising a Legislative Council appointed by the Crown, and a House of Representatives, which was to be elected every five years.The six Provinces also had an elected Provincial Council.

New Zealand’s first parliamentary elections were held in 1853. Not everyone had the right to vote in these early elections, but over the next half century New Zealand became one of the most democratic nations in the world.

The right to vote was defined according to sex, age, nationality and the possession of property in New Zealand. People known as 'aliens', namely people who were not British e.g. Chinese, were specifically excluded. Anyone who had been convicted of treason, a felony, or another serious offence, were also excluded, unless he had either received a free pardon or completed his sentence.

Maori men were allowed to register and vote, but in reality most were excluded because their land was possessed communally, rather than under individual title. Men who owned or leased property in different electorates were able to enrol and vote in each of them, a practice known as plural voting. Until 1881 elections in different seats were held on different days, which made it simpler for those men who qualified for plural voting.

Apart from a tiny minority of ‘aliens’ and prison inmates, most of the non-Maori males excluded from voting, were recent arrivals and transient workers such as farm labourers, timber workers and seafarers. They generally lived in boarding houses, tents, shacks, or aboard ship, and did not possess property, so they were not considered to be genuine settlers.

1. NEW ZEALAND ELECTORAL ROLLS 1853-1864, 1865-1875, 1878, 1881, 1893, 1896, 1911

The following information is included for each entry:

• Number - each electorate has a number for all electors
• First name – Christian name of each elector
• Last name – surname of each elector
• Electorate – this field identifies the roll on which the elector was registered
• Residence – this field may include a full street and province address, just a street address, just a province address, a property name, or other description.


This compendium contains the electoral rolls for all New Zealand districts for 1935 - almost 20,000 pages. Entries are arranged alphabetically within each district. You will find the details of about 900,000 people who were entitled (and registered) to vote. Importantly, the roll includes the names of many women qualified to vote for the election of members of the Parliament of New Zealand. As well as the General Roll, the Supplementary Roll for each district is also included in the compendium.

The electoral districts in 1935 were:
•Volume 1 – Auckland Central, Auckland East, Auckland Suburbs and Auckland West
•Volume 2 – Avon, Awarua, Bay of Plenty and Bay of Islands
•Volume 3 – Buller, Mid-Canterbury, Chalmers and Christchurch East
•Volume 4 – Christchurch North, Christchurch South and Clutha
•Volume 5 – Dunedin Central, Dunedin North, Dunedin South and Dunedin West
•Volume 6 – Eden, Egmont, Franklin and Gisborne
•Volume 7 – Grey Lynn, Hamilton and Hauraki
•Volume 8 – Hawke’s Bay, Hurunui, Hutt and Invercargill
•Volume 9 – Kaiapoi, Kaipara, Lyttelton and Manawatu
•Volume 10 – Manukau, Marsden, Masterton and Mataura
•Volume 11 – Motueka, Napier, Nelson and Oamaru
•Volume 12 – Oroua, Central Otago, Otaki and Pahiatua
•Volume 13 – Palmerston, Parnell, Patea and New Plymouth
•Volume 14 – Raglan, Rangitikei, Riccarton and Roskill
•Volume 15 – Rotorua, Stratford, Tauranga and Temuka
•Volume 16 – Thames, Timaru, Waikato and Waimarino
•Volume 17 – Waipawa, Wairarapa, Wairau and Waitaki
•Volume 18 – Waitemata, Wallace, Wanganui and Waitomo
•Volume 19 – Wellington Central, Wellington East and Wellington North
•Volume 20 – Westland, Wellington Suburbs and Wellington South

A section at the end of each electoral district lists the electors whose names had been removed from the main roll after it was closed for printing; also changes in address and occupation which occurred after printing of the main roll.

The following information is included for each entry:

•No. on roll
•Name in full
•Occupation or Addition
•Property qualification (if any)
•Electoral District

Please note that the 1935 rolls are PDF digitisations, so after searching, please check that your results are from "Newspapers, books & directories" (this will be on the top left hand of your search results screen).

These are a great genealogy resource for anyone with New Zealand ancestry who is exploring their family history or building a family tree.

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