Your Home's Heritage
Researching the history of your home can be very interesting, at our regular public meetings we profile one of the streets of Devonport which provides a great insight into the amount of history that can be gleaned from archives. Meanwhile here is some information to get you started:
You will need some basic information – Your property's legal description which can be found on your rates notice or by doing a property search here.
Then you can visit the LINZ website and buy a copy of your title – Make sure you ask for the Historical Search Copy, as this has the names of the previous owners –essentially a digital image which will be sent to you. These titles date to around the 1920s when the current legal titles were issued. If there are older documents relating to ownership prior to that on the search copy it will show Prior References. These deeds indexes are now held at Archives New Zealand in Mangere and some search results can be obtained on-line through ArchWay. Email them for help with the advanced search function if you need to.
Archives NZ is located just near Auckland Airport, it is free to visit and obtain a readers card. This will give you access to the original deeds books which the references refer to . The deeds have details of ownership, mortgages and more. Take a magnifying glass, pencils and paper, digital camera or your smartphone( no flash). They have power for laptops too and the staff will help you get started.
Auckland Council has its own archives which are in Takapuna across the road from the library. The enormously helpful team will guide you to undertake your research. It may be the case that you need to make an initial meeting to share the scope of your project and thereby to give them time to gather together documents of relevance. As with the Archives NZ they allow smartphone photography but not flash photography.
As well there are wonderful online research sources – photographs on the National Library website (The National Library White’s Aviation collection of photos has many brilliant images of Devonport from the air, dating from the 1940s until quite recently), Auckland Libraries local history collections, even Auckland Museum has photographic research collections that can be accessed from your computer. Also look at Papers Past and search for the names of previous owners, you will be surprised how much was reported in the news and even the adverts give clues to previous owners. For more on owners the Auckland Libraries has free access to members of various genealogical databases – find my past, and Ancestry.com.
The Devonport Museum has a vast collection – make time to go and visit and see what they can dig out. If you have found information, you can give them a copy too.
Last but not least ask around you neighbourhood for who has lived in the area a long time and might have memories or even old photos you could look at.