The diverse range of material contained within our archive forms part of the rich heritage of Tairāwhiti.

Tiny pieces of ephemera such as tickets and invitations as well as substantial collections of business and private papers all have a part to play in contributing to our understanding of our region.

It is due to the generosity and forethought of local organisations and individuals that we have been able to develop our archival resources :

  • most of our archive consists of records which have been donated by local clubs, societies, institutions and businesses.
  • Donations of family and personal papers have also added another important dimension to our collections.

Of particular value to researchers are the collected papers of Sir Robert Hall. The Hall Papers were written by Sir Robert de Zouche Hall (a local historian) in the mid-late 1970s. Sir Robert was interested in the early Pakeha settlers and their subsequent relationships with Māori, in particular with regard to land acquisition and development. Sir Robert pursued information as new topics came to his attention, and then wrote up the results of his research. One of Sir Robert’s major works was a guide to local history sources.

Explore the collection

Explore the collection on our online database. We are continually updating and improving the online collection and regularly add new archives.

With the increasing use of digital forms of storage there is a danger that old documents will simply be discarded. We encourage people to consider the museum before disposing of records. Once papers are thrown out the information is gone forever – our collection would be immeasurably poorer without the contributions made by local individuals and organisations.

Although we do have storage constraints, we will always be interested in assessing items which tell the stories of our region and its people. Visit our Donations page for more information.

See our Recent Acquisitions page for information about new additions to the collection.


Researchers wishing to access our archive need to contact the Museum Archivist make an appointment.

Please note that staff are not always available immediately.
It is advisable to make arrangements as far in advance as possible, particularly if you are only visiting Gisborne for a short period.

Access to the archive is free, but fees will be charged for photocopying and reproductions.

Researchers who are unable to visit in person can make their enquiry by email, letter or telephone

Christine Page Archivist Kaitieki Pūranga

Contact Christine for archives research collection enquiries and appointments

Regional archive research facilities

Gisborne District Council Archives

HB Williams Memorial Library

On-line Resources


Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast and Life in Early Poverty Bay, both by JA McKay are available at the NZ Texts Collection along with many other New Zealand publications

The Cyclopedia of NZ (Auckland Provincial District)

Gisborne Photo News


Paperspast – early NZ newspapers (including The Poverty Bay Herald, 1879-1920) and Parliamentary papers.

Archway – on-line index to New Zealand government archives.

Te Ara – on-line encyclopedia of New Zealand

Internal Affairs – records of births, deaths, marriages

Cenotaph biographical and service details for NZ service men and women

Gisborne Cemetery records

We welcome ideas for new projects and exhibitions so if you have something in mind, please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!

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