Our archives - Overview
Several thousand records relating to many aspects of state housing, including those relating to houses at one time owned by the state, are held by Archives New Zealand.
You can access these records through their website, Archway.
State housing in New Zealand had been managed by many different agencies over the years, and the records reflect this. There are items from the Housing Division of the Ministry of Works, the State Advances Corporation, Housing Corporation of New Zealand and Housing New Zealand Ltd.
Other agencies such as the Police, Education, Māori Affairs, the Post Office, Corrections and others also owned houses which were at times managed by the different Housing New Zealand agencies.
If you find something you wish to use contact Archives New Zealand.
We also have records that are sought by people wanting to find out about specific properties.
The collection includes building and drainage plans and photos. This information is often of interest to local councils, home owners and renovators. These plans are mainly on microfiche aperture cards, although some printed plans are available.
Some of the building plans on microfiche, and a small number of drainage plans, have been scanned and are available electronically on request, at no charge. No printed plans have been scanned as yet.
It is not always possible to identify the plan used for a specific property. To help us assist you, read the following information before contacting us about a property.
Periods covered by the plans
We hold between 20,000 and 30,000 microfiche plans. The microfiche collection includes plans of houses built between 1937 and 1987. Most plans relate to only a small number of houses, although in some cases a plan may be used in multiple locations across the country:
- 6 plans have been used more than 100 times
- 10 plans more than 80 times
- 80 plans more than 40 times,
- but 6,200 plans have been used less than 10 times.
No plans for houses built after 1987 are held on microfiche.
Are you able to tell me when my house was built?
In many cases we are able to indicate the year a house was built. In other cases, we may be able to indicate the date when a house was recorded on our plans, but cannot provide exact information of the construction date.
Do you have records of maintenance work on my house?
Generally, records of maintenance work are not kept for more than seven years. It is unlikely that we will have any information of relevance to you.
How long it takes to get a plan
If the plan can be identified for a house, and the plan has been scanned, it can be emailed to you with little delay.
If the plan has not been scanned but can be identified and located easily, the plan can be scanned and emailed, or printed and posted, within several days.
The microfiche plans are held in a number of offices and sometimes can be identified only from card indexes held in those offices. In other cases, it may take some time to identify the plan used, or to locate a copy of the relevant plan for scanning. In such cases it is best to allow several weeks for the plan to be provided. Plans held only in hard copy may take longer to provide.
Districts we hold plans for
Plans are held for all districts in New Zealand. However, we have limited information for properties in:
- the Manawatu,
- Waikato and
- the Bay of Plenty.
In those districts it is not usually possible to identify the plans used.
My house is the same as others in the street - will that help identify the plan?
While houses may appear identical from the outside, there are likely to be subtle but significant differences in construction. It is rare for the same plan to be used several times in the same street. Under such circumstances, we will not provide the plan in case of liability for providing incorrect information.
Information you need to provide to get a plan
Usually all we need is the address of the property. In cases where it is difficult to identify a plan, information on drainage plans held by the local council may help. Where the council holds a drainage plan, there may be a plan reference number inside or next to the outline of the house on the drainage plan. We may be able to use this number to help find information when we have no records of our own for the property.
Problems may arise if the street name has changed, or the properties have been renumbered. While this can often be resolved, it may take extra time to make the appropriate checks. If you are aware of such changes, please let us know when you request a plan.
The council tells me the house did not have a permit - why is that?
In 1991 the Building Act was introduced, which brought a large number of pieces of legislation into one place. In the period leading up to 1991, the various agents who constructed housing on behalf of the Crown were not bound by legislation to obtain a building permit/consent. However, planning and drainage approvals and consents were obtained. Before the 1991 Building Act, state houses were built under legislative powers without requiring a permit from the council. After 1991, permits were required. A council may not have information on older houses, but this does not mean that they were built illegally.
The Housing Corporation - established in 1974 - took its obligations seriously. All state housing construction was supervised by qualified building inspectors and building overseers. State houses were built and maintained to a high standard, even though this was not documented by local councils.
We have a collection of historical photographs covering state houses, subdivision work, housing construction and related activities. We also have staff portraits, team photos, office interiors and subjects of interest to people interested in the history of New Zealand's state housing agencies.
These images may be of interest if you are researching social history, building industry activities and developments, or genealogy.
If you have a relative who worked for one of the agencies managing state houses, contact us and ask to speak to someone from our Records Team to see if a photograph is held. For photos of identifiable individuals we need a request in writing showing your relationship to the person.
We Call It Home
In 2005 - the centenary of state housing - Dr Ben Schrader's book We Call it Home - A History of State Housing in New Zealand was published.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and with the support of Housing New Zealand, the book captures the human story of state housing and its contribution to national life.
It reflects upon the people who have lived in state homes, their experiences, the development of state housing design, the changing needs of tenants and the perceptions of state housing neighbourhoods over the years.
You can find out more about the book at the NZHistoryNet website.
We Call It Home is available at most booksellers.
State Housing in New Zealand
State Housing in New Zealand – text by Cedric Firth, illustrations selected by Gordon F Wilson. Published by the Ministry of Works, Wellington. This captures state housing in 1949. It is filled with floor plans and photographs.
Housing is today a major issue. This is as true of New Zealand as it is of most other countries. Probably never before have so many houses been wanted so quickly. And perhaps never before has the problem been so complex.
The close connection between happiness, health, and housing needs little proof, and one of the principal tasks of the next decade should be the provision of a decent house for every family in New Zealand. This is a huge job, but when planning is followed by action on the part of Government and private industry there is a reasonable chance that the objective will be reached.
This report owes its origin, in the main, to the inquiries received from overseas and local sources concerning the activities of the Housing Division of the Ministry of Works.
Building the New Zealand Dream
You can also find historical information on state housing in Building the New Zealand Dream, by Gael Ferguson (ISBN 0-86469-191-2).
Housing Market Reports
We produced Housing Market Reports between June 2003 and December 2005.
The reports drew on data from a range of organisations and covered things like trends in house price inflation, borrowing levels, numbers of transactions, private sector rents and labour markets.
They also commented on factors most likely to affect the future direction of the New Zealand housing market.
These reports have been replaced with a National Housing Market Report, produced by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment.
Are there any independent housing research bodies in New Zealand?
Yes. The Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand (CHRANZ).
How does Housing New Zealand use research for its own programmes?
Research and evaluation is an important part of Housing New Zealand's approach to providing programmes and initiatives that effectively respond to housing need. Internal research and evaluation activities are set out each year in the Statement of Intent, and reported on in the Annual Report.
Page updated: 13 November 2019