Friday 16 April 2021

Near Neighbour New Zealand - AJCP

New Zealand's Blue Books

For this post I return to the Records of the Colonial Office. Some of my favourite finds have been in the Blue Books of Statistics. These are made up of forms that were filled in by the Colonial Secretary in each colony. Copies were then returned to London. They contain a comprehensive overview of the status of the colony in any one year. They detail all the government appointments in that year as well as statistical information about population, schools, churches, revenue and expenditure, imports, roads, postage and much more.

In this 1848 New Zealand Blue Book, the headings across the top of the pages which list personnel are:

Office | Name | Date of appointment | By whom appointed and under what instrument | Annual salary | 
On the second page of the spread we find details of whether the appointee was entitled to housing and any other appointments they held. The last column has the date of their first appointment under the Colonial Government.

All this is rich information for the family historian so if you know in which colony your ancestor worked, it is possible that he may have been employed by some arm of the colonial authority.
NZ Blue Book of Statistics 1848

From the page above we see that John Guilding who was appointed as the Landing Waiter in the Customs Department on 1st May 1848 was paid 200 pounds per year. The Boarding Officer, D Rough received 100 pounds a year whereas the Collectors of Customs Henry D'Arch and William Young were both in receipt of 300 pounds per year.

In the same year, 1848, the governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey was receiving 2 500 pounds per year.

The contents page for each of these Blue Books details the types of information recorded about the colony for that year. The Civil Establishment records where employment details are found, sometimes start at about page 69. That is unlikely to be image 69 in the microfilm, you may need to go further.

Blue Books of Statistics are available for New Zealand from 1840 -1854. They can be found in the Colonial Office Records  or by combining the search terms in the Trove search bar.
These are just some of the records specific to New Zealand across the range of  AJCP collections

Other colonies

Blue Books of Statistics are also available for Fiji and the Australian colonies.
By combining search terms and adding a year e.g. Blue Book AND 1847 AND AJCP one is led to more specific results.
Once a record is obtained, choose Browse then zoom in on the Contents page for that year to find the number of the starting page for the Civil Establishment records rather than having to scroll through all the images.

Rates of pay are interesting to compare to the cost of goods advertised in the newspapers in the same years to get an idea of the cost of living for your ancestors. 

Blue Books of Statistics provide an excellent overview of each colony across a range of years. These are available in the Colonial Office collection.
  • Western Australia 1834 – 1869
  • South Australia 1840 – 1865
  • Tasmania 1822 – 1858
  • New Zealand 1840 – 1855
  • Victoria 1851 – 1856
  • NSW 1822 – 1857
  • Fiji 1874
  • Tonga 1883


  1. I hope your T post will tell me how to create the TIME to visit these resources. Your have opened a whole new world for the genealogy community.

    1. Time - I used a lot of that as I looked through the early S.A. blue books but have come to the conclusion none of my ancestors were recorded as working in colonial government jobs.

  2. I feel many of us would love to know more about our family history. What a great subject for A - Z. NZ Blue books look a fascinating read.

    1. Thanks for dropping by. We are so luck nowadays to have so many resources online to help find our ancestors stories.

  3. I will have to make time this long weekend to explore the AJCP. Thank you for giving us so many handy hints and insights into this valuable resource.


Thanks for visiting, I welcome your comments.

Enjoyed this post? Want to see more?