Historic rates records database

This database 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.

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About these records

The database comprises 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. These records cover the Town, Borough and City area but not the country (County) areas.

Wanganui Town Board rate rolls were large parchment sheets which received conservation treatment before being photographed and transcribed.

Details here were very brief – section number (legal description), name of owner and a rates figure (some as low as sixpence).

Points of interest

  • Changes of ownership were frequent. Military men who took their discharge in Wanganui owned many of the sections.
  • In early volumes the town is divided into three wards – Cooks, Queens and St Johns. Areas beyond the town are described as Suburban blocks.  
  • It should be noted that the suburbs Wanganui East (Eastbrook), Gonville and Castlecliff had their own Town Boards and are not currently included in this database.
  • They are included from 1924 when these Town Boards merged with the Wanganui Borough to become the Wanganui City Council.
  • Street names have changed over the years and some of the earlier names are no longer used. Streets of Wanganui by Athol Kirk (Wanganui Newspapers 1978 & 1989) may be helpful in locating a property.
  • Spelling of surnames in the original record is not always accurate. Where known the correct surname has been given as well.
  • Women’s names appear quite frequently as properties were often purchased in their names (protection against bankruptcy).
  • The Industrial School Estate and College Estate are older terms for the present-day Whanganui Collegiate School. 

An explanation of the various rate records categories

Owner / Occupier

In the database records, the occupier is the person who paid the rates and the owner has the freehold title. Very often the same name appears for both (Owner/Occupier).


Rates are usually based on either the property’s land value, capital value or a fixed charge applied to each separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit.

Rates Amount Paid

Shown as Pounds, Shillings and Pence - (20.6.4).

The pound (fractional system) was the currency of New Zealand from 1840 until 1967, when it was replaced by the New Zealand dollar (decimal currency). A pound was worth 20 shillings and a shilling was worth 12 pence, so one pound was worth 240 pence.

Valuation number

Note that the valuation number is not a permanent identifier and that the same property may have a different valuation number in different years.


Three Wanganui Councils are recorded in this database as the local authorities administering the collection of rates.

They were:

  • The Wanganui Town Board (1862 - 1872).
  • The Wanganui Borough Council (1872 - 1924).
  • The Wanganui City Council (1924 - 1989). 

Archives References

Example 1

AAF = Wanganui Borough / Wanganui City Council.
65 = Rate Book series number.
15 = Rate Book volume number.

Example 2

AAS: 276:1
AAS = Wanganui Town Board.
276 = Rate Book series number.
1 = Rate Book volume number.

Description (Legal Description)

A legal description is the geographical description of real estate that identifies its precise location, boundaries and any easements for the purpose of a legal transaction, such as a transfer of ownership.

The area of sections may be shown in some records as 3.1.24 or 3A 1R 24P which both equate to 3 acres 1 rood 24 perches.

Project history

The Property Roll (rating database) volunteer project originally started in 1999. Between 1999 and 2006 some 80,592 individual historical Whanganui rate records were added to the database from the Wanganui Town Board (1862-1872) and the Wanganui Borough Council (1872-1923) rate records. These initial entries covered the time period 1862 until 1922. 

Following significant interest from heritage staff, volunteers and members of the public, the project was reconvened in June 2018. Whanganui District Council is very grateful to the wonderful volunteers who have undertaken the work since this date: June Springer, Joan Egan, Frances Haddock, Nola Clark, Sue O’Connor and Carol Tong.

The rate records currently being digitised are from the archives of the Wanganui Borough Council (1922-1924) and the Wanganui City Council (1924 onwards) and a further 25,722 individual rate records have been digitised by the team since the project reconvened in June 2018.