Whanganui District Council Archives

Aerial of Aramoho Railway Station and surrounds 1968

Whanganui District Council Archives comprise the historical records of the Council and the local authorities which came before it in the Whanganui District. 

Dating from the beginnings of local government in 1862 up to the present day, the archival records document the growth of the town and surrounding area.

They give evidence of the development of Whanganui’s infrastructure, its transport systems, water supply, sewerage systems, parks and buildings. Rating and valuation records provide lists of early residents and their properties. Harbour Board records show the ships that used the port in its heyday; survey plans show the roads that opened up the rural areas to settlers. Minute books record the decisions and actions of the various authorities and their interactions with the communities they served.

The archival records are generally no longer used for day-to-day business of the Council, but are retained for their ongoing value. That value may be to the Council itself, or to the community. While most items are still paper-based (for example, volumes, files, maps and plans, photographs), in future many archival records will be in other formats, especially in electronic media.

With a few minor exceptions, the Council archives do not contain records from individuals, businesses or non-Council organisations. The local repository for these is the Whanganui Regional Museum.

Published works about Whanganui (newspapers, books, magazines, brochures) are generally held by the Whanganui District Library.

Another useful site for archival records is The Community Archives, hosted by Archives New Zealand.

Most items in the Council archives are unique; that is, there is no other copy in existence.

Who can use the archives?

District Council staff and members of the public use the Council archives. The records are public documents and are available to any member of the public for research purposes.

Genealogists, historians, students, business people and anyone with an interest in the history of the region and its people may find useful information in the Council archives.

There may be some access restrictions on items which contain personal or confidential information or which are in a fragile condition.

What is in the archives?

The collection contains records from the following organisations:

  • Brunswick Cemetery Trustees 1895-1938
  • Brunswick Hall Committee 1923-1979
  • Brunswick Weed Control Group 1975-1976
  • Castlecliff Domain Board 1918-1953
  • Castlecliff Linking Group 1999-2002
  • Castlecliff Town Board 1909-1924
  • Cooks Gardens Board of Control 1897-1903
  • Cooks Gardens Trust Board 1993-1998
  • David Peat Park Trustees 1911-1937
  • Gonville and Castlecliff Tramway Board 1911-1924
  • Gonville Domain Board 1913-1953
  • Gonville Town Board 1907-1924
  • Hospitality Wanganui 1968-1989
  • Hydatid Control Committee 1959-1965
  • Kai Iwi Town Hall Committee 1910-1937
  • Kaitoke Road Board 1892-1913
  • Kaukatea Road Board 1893-1914
  • Landguard Domain Board 1933-1953
  • Makirikiri Licensing Committee 1882-1892
  • Mangamahu Domain Board 1950-1968
  • Mangamahu Road Board 1909-1913
  • Mangawhero Road Board 1884-1917
  • Mataongaonga Road Board 1901-1909
  • Maxwell Hall Committee 1938-1964
  • Mowhanau Domain Board 1907-1920
  • Naturally Wanganui 1987-1989
  • New Zealand Counties Association (Ward 4) 1946-1989
  • New Zealand Institute of County Clerks 1967-1988
  • Nukumaru Domain Board 1895-1989
  • Otamatea Community Town Council 1959-1989
  • Purua Road Board 1893-1912
  • Putiki Community Council 1955-1989
  • Queens Park Domain Board 1883-1953
  • Rapanui Hall Committee 1939-1953
  • River City Contractors Ltd 1994-1998
  • Road Stone Quarries Ltd 1996-1998
  • Sinking Fund Commissioners (City Council) 1901-1963
  • Trustees of the Wanganui General Cemetery 1863-1915
  • Upper Wangaehu Road Board 1883-1918
  • Waitotara County Council 1884-1988
  • Waitotara, Patea, Waverley Hydatids Authority 1959-1988
  • Wangaehu Highway Board/District 1872-1886
  • Wanganui and Rangitikei General Road Board 1870-1871
  • Wanganui and Waitotara Highway District Board 1872-1884
  • Wanganui Beach Society 1963-2003
  • Wanganui Borough/City Council 1872-1989
  • Wanganui County Council 1876-1988
  • Wanganui County Council 1988-1989
  • Wanganui District Council 1989-2005
  • Wanganui District Council Holdings Ltd 2001-2002
  • Wanganui East/Eastbrook Borough Council 1907-1912
  • Wanganui Harbour Board 1876-1988
  • Wanganui Health Task Force 1995-1996
  • Wanganui Industrial Promotion Council 1961-1972
  • Wanganui Regional Planning Council 1946-1970
  • Wanganui Sister City Association 1988-1999
  • Wanganui Town Board 1862-1872
  • Westmere Public Hall Committee 1903-1958
  • Williams Domain Board 1923-1953

Types of records found in the Council archives include:

  • minute books and other meeting papers
  • correspondence files
  • rate books and valuation rolls
  • survey plans
  • engineering plans
  • town planning records
  • permit and licence records
  • electoral rolls
  • photographs (including aerials)
  • accounts records
  • port statistics
  • harbour soundings records
  • employee records
  • bylaws.

Archives services

  • Access – contact us to arrange a time to come and do your research.
  • Research – if you are unable to visit the Archives, staff can do your research for you.
  • Reproduction of items – generally this involves photocopying, which will depend on the fragility of the original and copyright rules.
  • Outreach – the Archivist is available to give talks to community groups.
  • Referrals – we may be able to direct you to other sources of information.


  • Access to the records – free.
  • Photocopying.
  • A4/Foolscap 50c per page.
  • A3 $1 per page.
  • Larger than A3 approx $5 per page.
  • Photographic prints – charges will vary according to size and type of print.
  • Research by Archives staff: first half-hour free - subsequent time $60 per hour.

Historical rates records

This historical rates records contains transcribed details from property rolls (rate records) of the Wanganui Town Board 1862-72, the Wanganui Borough Council 1872–1923 and the Wanganui City Council 1924.

Search this database online

Archives Central Project

Some of our archives can be accessed through Archives Central – an online archival database and website that stores, digitises and provides access to council archival material. The website is split into different collections, with each collection being allocated to one of the nine participating councils.

The participating Councils are:

  • Whanganui District Council
  • Hawkes Bay Regional Council
  • Ruapehu District Council
  • Manawatū District Council
  • Rangitikei District Council
  • Palmerston North City Council
  • Horizons Regional Council
  • Tararua District Council
  • Horowhenua District Council