About Papers Past

We've launched a new version of Papers Past, which has been providing access to millions of pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers since 2001. The new site delivers a number of major changes that bring the service into the present and prepares it for the future.

Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions about the new Papers Past:

How many items are on Papers Past?

Check out our stats page for details on the current collection.

What are the new features?

  • The new Papers Past provides more than just newspapers, bringing letters and diaries, magazines, and parliamentary papers into one site for the first time
  • Users will get a cleaner, more modern interface that works nicely on any device
  • The search tools have been improved, making it easier to search groups of papers, pick date ranges, and scan results
  • The underlying tech has been improved to make it not just stable, but able to grow with more material and more users
  • Better, fully standards-compliant support for web accessibility
  • Improved, format-specific browsing tools for the non-newspaper formats
  • Improved tools for searching and browsing by date

Is Papers Past finished?

The new platform makes it easier for us to update Papers Past with new features and material, and try out new ideas. We will continue to add more full-text material to Papers Past, including additional newspaper and journal titles, diaries, letters and other manuscript material.

What if I see something that needs fixing?

We want your feedback so that we can continue to improve the service. To send us your comments and suggestions, please email paperspast@natlib.govt.nz.

Can I make corrections to the OCR text?

We haven’t enabled this feature yet, but we’ve put most of the building blocks in place. Once we’ve got our new systems and workflows bedded in, we’ll begin the next round of work, which will enable more substantial technical features like text correction and transcription.

Papers Past is divided into four sections: Newspapers, Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries, and Parliamentary Papers.


The Newspaper section contains digitised NZ and Pacific newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Each newspaper has its own page containing information about the publication, including the date range which is available online. You can find links to all the newspapers on the Explore all newspapers page.

The newspapers on Papers Past are only a proportion of all New Zealand newspapers. If you cannot find what you are looking for online, it may be available as a paper copy or microfilm. Check the National Newspaper Collection page on the National Library website for more information.

National Newspaper Collection

Maori newspapers

In 2015 the National Library added a collection of historic newspapers published primarily for a Māori audience between 1842 and 1935. This is based on the digital Niupepa Collection developed and made available in 2000 by the New Zealand Digital Library Project, at the Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato. The source material for this digital collection is ‘Niupepa 1842-1933’, a collection of newspapers published in Māori or for a Māori readership, filmed by the Alexander Turnbull Library (1988) and made available on microfiche (1996).

There were three main types of Māori newspapers published; government sponsored, Māori initiated, and religious. Further information about the newspapers can be found in Rere Atu Taku Manu! Discovering History, Language & Politics in the Māori Language Newspapers, edited by Jennifer Curnow, Ngapare Hopa, and Jane McRae (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2002).

Titles currently available:

There are also some Maori periodicals available in the Magazines and Journals section:

The digital Niupepa Collection is available on the New Zealand Digital Library website.

Māori Niupepa Collection — New Zealand Digital Library website

Magazines and Journals

The Magazines and Journals section contains digitised NZ journal publications. Many of the publications were mixed in with the newspapers in the previous Papers Past, so if you can’t find an existing title in the Newspapers section, try the Magazines and Journals section as well.

There are also two publications which were delivered in their own stand-alone websites:

  • Te Ao Hou (1952-1975)
  • Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1868-1960)

These two publications were processed using a different method to the majority of titles, so there are some differences in presentation. The most noticeable is that search term highlighting on the page image is not available.

Each magazine and journal has its own page containing information about the publication, including the date range which is available online. You can find links to all of them on the Explore all magazines and journals page.

Letters and Diaries

The Letters and Diaries section contains digitised full-text manuscripts. Currently this section contains only the papers of Sir Donald McLean, but further material will be added soon.

Parliamentary Papers

The Parliamentary Papers section contains digitised reports from volumes of the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHRs) and the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives.

You can find further information about the AJHRs on the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives page.

Statement from the Clerk of the House of Representatives, 2012

The Votes and Proceedings from 1854 to 1856, the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives from 1858 to 2002, and from 2003, the Parliamentary Papers series, are all published by order or under the authority of the House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House controls and directs the printing of parliamentary documents. As Clerk of the House of Representatives, I fully endorse this project to digitise the Votes and Proceedings and the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives as it is important to have these vital records available to the public in an easily accessible and searchable form.

Volumes from 1854 to 1930 have now been digitised and the collection is complete in that all volumes from that period have been accounted for but they should not be relied upon as the authoritative source. The Office of the Clerk will continue to hold the authoritative copy of record in bound volumes. Copies are available for viewing either at my Office or at the Parliamentary Library. Hardcopy sets are also held at the National Library, university libraries and some large public libraries.

Mary Harris

Clerk of the House of Representatives (2007-2015)