Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives masthead

1858-1950


Background

The Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR), sometimes known as "the A to Js", is a collection of government-related reports published every year from 1858. The reports cover many subjects, documenting the work of government departments and a wide range of other activities carried out by, or of interest to, the government of the day.

The AJHR is one of the most valuable tools for understanding how New Zealand has developed from its earliest colonial beginnings to the present. It provides a wealth of information for researchers working across many fields.

Why is the AJHR published?

In short, the AJHR is published because Parliament decides to publish them. Many official reports and papers are presented to the House of Representatives by ministers and government departments every year. These documents relate to many subjects, and are essential to Parliament's ability to make informed decisions.

Papers tabled in the House are listed in the Journal of the House of Representatives (not included on this website), a publication which logs Parliament's daily business.

All papers tabled before Parliament are considered appendices to the Journal. The House orders some of these papers to be printed, and these are published annually in a separate series of volumes as the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives.

The Legislative Council (or Upper House of Parliament) also published a separate volume of papers, the Journal of the Legislative Council (not included on this website), before it was abolished in 1951. The Council's Journal includes appendices at the end of some volumes.

How does the AJHR work?

The AJHR is arranged into broad themes. The following list provides a broad outline of the themes since the late nineteenth century:

  • A: legislative, political, and foreign affairs
  • B: public finance
  • C: Crown lands, mines, forests, primary production, environment
  • D: immigration, public works, energy
  • E: education, welfare, and justice
  • F: post office, broadcasting, communications
  • G: Maori affairs
  • H: miscellaneous, commissions of inquiry
  • I: reports of select committees
  • J: petitions

Each theme includes a series of reports grouped by "shoulder number" — a letter of the alphabet followed by a number. For example:

"General report on lunatic asylums in New Zealand (by Dr. Paley)", AJHR, 1874, H-1

This indicates that the report was published in 1874 and was the first document in the "H" theme that year.

What's in the AJHR?

Annual reports of government departments

Most government departments published annual reports in the AJHR from the 1870s-80s onwards. These reports cover the department's activities over the year in question, tracing developments and changes of policy and sometimes personnel, and are a valuable source of information. They often contain tables of statistics, maps, and illustrations.

Reports of commissions of inquiry

Governments have regularly held commissions of inquiry to address a variety of issues since the nineteenth century. The reports of most of these inquiries were published in the AJHR, sometimes along with the commission's minutes and the testimony of witnesses.

The Stout-Ngata Commission into Maori land tenure in 1907, and the Mazengarb report on "Moral Delinquency in children and adolescents" in 1954, are well-known examples.

Reports relating to broader government work

The AJHR includes other reports relating to a variety of subjects. Sometimes members of Parliament requested a report on certain areas of government activity, and these were prepared by the relevant department. Other times departments produced reports on the results of particular Acts, or research into proposed changes and innovations. The "Miscellaneous" (H) section published at the end of each year's AJHR is always a rich trove of interesting and unusual material.

Images and maps

Many of the reports contain maps, plans, photos, sketches, and diagrams. These illuminate many aspects of New Zealand life, from sketch maps of planned railway lines to photographs of living conditions in early-twentieth century housing.

What can I use the AJHR for?

The AJHR can be used for a wide variety of research purposes in addition to the study of government-related history. For example:

Family history/whakapapa

  • reports on immigrant ships
  • lists of sheep-owners
  • lists of government employees
  • buying and selling land
  • petitions to government
  • witnesses to inquiries
  • returns of drownings

Local history

  • sales and purchases of land and patterns of settlement
  • development of transport into the area
  • development of educational facilities
  • results of local elections
  • details of community activities such as wine-growing and gum-digging

Maori history

  • reports from native districts
  • records of land purchasing
  • Maori Department, Native Trustee annual reports
  • commissions of inquiry into Maori issues
  • petitions to government from Maori
  • correspondence and other documents written in Te Reo Maori

Transport

  • railways
  • air services
  • harbours
  • roads
  • Transport Department

Military

  • troops serving in the Boer war (1899-1902)
  • financing and planning of World War one (1914-18)
  • annual reports of the Army, Air Force, and Navy
  • reports on the territorial force

International relations

  • New Zealand governor and relations with Britain
  • records of New Zealand involvement in international forums such as the League of Nations
  • annual reports of New Zealand territories in the Pacific
  • reports on trade agreements and other diplomatic activities

Agriculture, science, and industry

  • reports of scientific expeditions
  • reports addressing pest control and environmental change
  • reports of the DSIR
  • annual reports of the Agriculture Department (later MAF)
  • reports on land development and finance

Social history

  • crime and punishment
  • social security
  • mental health
Further information

The AJHRs were split into two sequences of published volumes in 1999. The first sequence, the New Zealand Parliamentary Papers, included most government reports. The second, still called the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, contains select committee reports and other papers relating to the operation of Parliament. Many post-1999 reports are available online at www.parliament.nz and the websites of the government agencies which created them.

Some papers presented to the House are not published as part of the AJHR, and remain unpublished. Many such papers are held by Archives New Zealand Head Office in Wellington, the Parliamentary Library, or the government departments which created them.

Copyright and reproduction statement

This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand licence. In essence, you are free to copy, distribute and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and abide by the other licence terms. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/nz/

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