Birth registrations in New Zealand

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Birth Registrations in New Zealand


Civil registrations of births in New Zealand date back to 1840.  The names have been indexed on an annual basis, which are available on microfiche to 1990 and CD-ROM from 1991.  Many libraries and genealogy groups hold copies of the fiche and/or disks.  Prior to 1960 the indexes give only the name of the baby being registered and the folio number ("folio").  From 1960 the mother's first forename and initial of a second name is also given.


The folio is a unique number for that year.  The fiche will state the folio number only against the name, but when referring to the folio in correspondence it is accepted practise to combine it with the year, in the format year/folio, eg. 1940/1234 - folio number 1234 in the year 1940.


The folio indicates the registration office where the birth was registered and the quarter of the year (Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sep, Oct-Dec) during which the registration was made - not the date of birth.  District keys against which the folio can be checked are found at either the beginning of the first fiche or the end of the last fiche for the year (it varied year to year) or in the booklets produced by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG).


Copies of birth registrations and birth certificates can be purchased from Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM), either by quoting a folio or by supplying what information you know (or think you know) about the individual which the staff at BDM can compare to the registrations.


Update: From January 2009 "historical" indexes are available online, and orders can be placed online.  Note that the registration numbers used in these indexes are not the same as the folio numbers described above, and care should be taken to not confuse one for the other.  More recent events can be ordered online once an i-govt identity has been established, or via mail/fax/etc as usual.


If you are purchasing to discover the family information, be sure to order the "electronic printout", not the legal certificate; it may contain more information than is transcribed onto a certificate, is often cheaper (except in earlier years, to 1874) and is not subject to further transcription errors during the completion of your order.  The electronic printout is often a photocopy of the Registrar's book, on A3 paper.


The detail to be found on a birth registration increased over time.  Lists of what can be found in which years are to be found at BDM under "Data Collected".


This is a brief guide only to help you get started - not a comprehensive entry of all knowledge about birth registrations.  Please direct any questions you have to a forum that may be able to help you further, such as the Rootsweb New-Zealand list.


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