Marriage registrations in New Zealand

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Marriage Registrations in New Zealand


Civil registrations of marriages 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 each party (ie, the bride and groom) listed separately and the folio number ("folio").  From1960 the surname of the other party is also given for each entry, making it easier to identify the couple you're searching for.


For marriages between 1836 and 1956, the easiest method for searching the indexes is with the CD-ROM produced by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, "New Zealand Marriages 1836-1956".  It allows for searches by surname, with or without first names or a range of dates.  When one party is identified, you can view the name of the other party.  Much simpler than trawling through fiche!


The folio is a unique number for each marriage in that year, ie, the bride and groom have the same folio.  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.


Marriage folios do not indicate the registration office or quarter as births and deaths do.  This is because the registrations could come from places other than the registration offices, such as churches, and at irregular intervals, and as a result were not so easily organised.


Copies of marriage registrations and marriage 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 marriage 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 marriage 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 marriage 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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