The New Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc. has released a new CD – New Zealand Cemetery Records: Waikato, King Country and Taupo. Their web site says this is the first in the New Zealand Cemetery Records series. The CD has cemetery records for Raglan County, Waikato County, Hauraki Plains, Piako County, Matamata County, Hamilton City, Waipa County, Otorohanga County, Taupo County, Taumarunui County and Waitomo County. Society members can purchase from the Society web site.
The CD contains a copy of cemetery transcriptions undertaken between 1970 and 2000. The transcriptions are primarily headstone inscriptions, and in some cases burial records too.
I purchased a copy and have been using for a few days. The transcriptions on the CD have been available previously on microfiche. I have accessed the transcriptions on microfiche at the State Library in Melbourne, and they are available in public libraries in New Zealand too. However, the records are much more accessible from CD than microfiche, especially when the library is several hours drive away.
The transcriptions have been scanned and turned into pdf files, with optical character recognition used to create indexes. There is an amalgamated pdf file containing records from all the individual cemeteries in Waikato, King Country and Taupo Districts – I have found this file most useful so far for finding records.
Optical character recognition was not perfect, so searching the CD is not always accurate. It is recommended that The New Zealand Burial Locator CD is used to search in conjunction with the search available in the pdf files on the CD. However The New Zealand Burial Locator CD database does not always have the same records as the pdf files.
As with most genealogical research, several record sources are best used. One source seldom has all the information. Of course, related family members can speed up research with their knowledge. For New Zealand death and burial information I use the following combination of sources:
- The New Zealand Burial Locator CD – It is fast and covers most of New Zealand. The database provides death year and cemetery, so you can then go on to search the appropriate on-line database or transcribed records. It is incomplete however in terms of cemetery coverage and does not have recent records.
- New Zealand Historical Death Records – This online database is fast and complete, but excludes deaths in the last 50 years where the deceased’s date of birth was less than 80 years ago. The records provide death year and either birth date or age; but not death date.
- New Zealand Cemetery Databases – These databases are very good if you know which ones to search, based on where the deceased lived – often available from electoral rolls. These databases are up to date and do not exclude deceased people excluded in the Historical Death Records. These databases seldom include headstone details, although some do. Almost all the cemeteries in New Zealand are now covered by these databases.
- New Zealand Cemetery Records – either on microfiche or now CD. These records provide headstone details which can supplement other information. Like the online Cemetery Databases, it is best that you have an idea where the deceased lived to reduce the time searching. The transcriptions usually exclude recent records.