Digital Collection

Items from our collection made available online. Topics covered include Christchurch’s first newspaper, a notorious murder, New Zealand’s worst ever fire, early art catalogues and more.


Items from our archives including diaries, journals and correspondence.

Art and architecture

Artworks including posters, and collections of art catalogues and other publications.


Documents and ship-board diaries relating to emigration to Christchurch and Canterbury.

Events and newspapers

From the first issue of Christchurch’s first newspaper to historic events such as the 1907 Exhibition and Ballantynes’ Fire.

Government and public service

Includes various Christchurch City Council documents and publications as well as militia lists, a policeman’s memoirs and hospital, orphanage and sanatorium documents.


Images of early Christchurch and Canterbury that have been digitised from our collections. They have been sourced from newspapers, archives, books, reports and donations from private collections.


Rule books, publications, reports and catalogues from our libraries and their predecessors.


A collection of historical maps mostly of Christchurch and Canterbury. The digital copies of the maps are from originals held by Christchurch City Libraries, Christchurch City Archives, and from the Cartographic Collection at the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.


Digtised postcards from our collection.


A selection of publications, pamphlets and booklets from various sources including library and City Council publications and items from our collection.

Wars and conflicts

Includes fundraising booklets, a troop ship newletter, an early Canterbury militia list and more.

Art and architecture

Art works


Our two online collections of posters are the 1980s Christchurch Rock posters, digitised from the libraries’ ephemera collection for New Zealand Music Month, May 2007 and the 1981 Springbok Tour posters.

Art publications

A collection of visual arts publications mostly digitised in partnership with the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu including exhibition catalogues, histories and magazines.


The architectural heritage of Christchurch
An occasional series published by the Christchurch City Council’s Heritage team. Titles include Cranmer Club, Church of the Good Shepherd, Government Buildings, Legacy of Thomas Edmonds, McLeans Mansion, Nurses’ Memorial Chapel, Normal School, Pavilions, temples & four square walls: Christchurch pump houses and substations, Woods Mill.
plansArchitectural Plans of Christchurch Buildings
A selection of architectural plans and drawings from the collection of the Strategy and Planning Group Heritage Archives, Christchurch City Council. The plans and drawings are of a range of buildings in Christchurch, dating from 1909 to 1968.
The Spur, Sumner : the property of S. Hurst Seager.
A pamphlet advertising the auction of the Spur properties designed by Samuel Hurst Seager. Includes floor plans, views of the cottage interiors, and general descriptions of the cottages.

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Events and newspapers

Ballantynes' Fire - Christchurch, 18 November, 1947Ballantynes Fire’ – Christchurch, 18 November, 1947
The Ballantynes’ fire was the worst fire in New Zealand history. Sources for this resource include contemporary accounts in the The Press, The Star, The Star-Sun and New Zealand Weekly News, the 1948 Report of the Royal Commission of inquiry and later articles.
Christchurch Chronology to 1990
A timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1990. Includes this week in history and Christchurch’s firsts, bests, worsts and lasts.
The Christchurch Star and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1963The Christchurch Star and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1963
The November 23, 1963 edition of the Star newspaper has been digitised. Preoccupation with the Christchurch Star connection intensified with the release in 1992 of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, which uses, as part of its evidence, the front page of the Star of 23 November 1963.
Grand November Show : to be held in the grounds of the Association, Colombo Street, Christchurch
The programme for the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association’s exhibition contains event listings, competition rules, prizes, lists of members and advertising. Christchurch, N.Z. : Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association, 1886.
Page one of the Lyttelton Times first issueLyttelton Times
A copy of the first issue of the fledgling colony’s first newspaper. The first issue of the Lyttelton Times presented here, appeared on January 11 1851, just 26 days after the printing presses arrived on board the Charlotte Jane on December 16 1850.
New Zealand International Exhibition 1906
The New Zealand International Exhibition held in Christchurch 1906-7 showcased art and culture from around the world and had nearly 2 million visitors.
Parker - Hulme Murder Case 1954Parker - Hulme Murder Case 1954
Pauline Parker, 16, and Juliet Hulme, 15, were young women whose families, though successful, had secrets and lifestyles that must have affected their behaviour which led to them savagely killing Pauline’s mother with a brick in a sock. This information mainly comes from Christchurch newspapers at the time of the trial and articles written since.
Portraits, First World War
A collection of portraits of those who served during the First World War.

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Government and public service

Address of his Honor, the Superintendent on opening the Seventeenth Session of the Provincial Council of Canterbury, N.Z., 22nd October, 1861.
Address by William Sefton Moorhouse, opening the first session of the third Provincial Council of Canterbury. The address provides an overview of the development of the Canterbury province, economic growth and general progress in the previous year.
Policeman - from the Burke Manuscript page 130Canterbury Police Gazette
The Canterbury Police Gazette was published monthly from 1863 until 1876. They contain lists of stolen items and of other crimes, warrants of arrest with descriptions of the criminals, lists of apprehensions for the month, and of discharges from gaols, and results from court trials.
Canterbury’s demonstration on the departure of the N.Z. Rough Riders for South Africa, Hagley Park, Saturday Feb. 17, 1900.
The programme and the order of events for the farewell of the Canterbury contingent of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles held in Hagley Park.
Christchurch City Council publications
Our digitised publications include the 1906-7 yearbook and a booklet celebrating the opening of the Civic Offices in 1980.
Christchurch Militia List 1860
An alphabetical list of all Persons, between the ages of 18 and 60 years, residing within 15 miles from the Land Office, at Christchurch, and liable to serve as Militiamen for the year 1860-61 (ending 31st March, 1861) in the Militia District of Christchurch.
John DwyerFragments from the official career of John Dwyer, Superintendent of Police, 1878 to 1921
John Dwyer’s 43 year policing career began in New Zealand in Dunedin in 1878. He was associated with many notable cases throughout his career. His memoirs focus on some of these incidents, and provide insight into policing in late nineteenth and early twentieth century New Zealand.
Ordinances of the Canterbury Province
A record of the legislation enacted by the provincial government during the years 1853 and 1875. Canterbury was one of six provinces created under the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852. Each province was governed by a Superintendent and Provincial Council. Transcribed from the original documents.
Revised rules & regulations, together with a list of the officers and members now forming the Christchurch Volunteer Fire Brigade, founded 7th Nov., 1860.
1862 regulations and rules for the Christchurch Volunteer Fire Brigade. Includes a list of members and officers.

Health care

Cashmere Sanatorium, 1913-1933
Two photograph albums and 70 assorted photographs of the Cashmere Sanatorium, Fresh Air School, Fresh Air Home and Coronation Hospital taken between 1913 and 1933. One photograph album inscribed to Dr. G.J. Blackmore as Christmas gift.
Christchurch Lunatic Asylum Annual Report, 1868
The Asylum’s second annual report for 1868 written by E.W. Seager, the asylum superintendent. The report lists registration, treatments, entertainments and employment for the patients, as well as a case study of a cure and statistics.
Correspondence relating to the management of the Christchurch Hospital
Records the increase in number of patients, and the change in workload. Request for additional staffing and funding.
The North Canterbury Hospital Board : fragments of history : hospitals : tuberculosis and benevolent institutions and miscellaneous
Unpublished manuscript by Winifred Norris, detailing the history of selected hospitals, orphanages, sanatoriums, and benevolent institutions, in and around Christchurch and Lyttelton.
The story of the South Island Methodist Orphanage and Children’s home, Christchurch
A history of the orphanage and children’s home in Papanui opened in 1914; published after the first twenty years of operation. Includes photographs of the buildings, staff and children.

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Library Treasures coverCanterbury Public Library Publications
Canterbury Public Library was the former name for Christchurch City Libraries.
Catalogue of books belonging to the Canterbury Association, June 17th 1852
Catalogue of the books belonging to the Canterbury Association packed in six cases for Lyttelton, 17 June 1852, and a bill of despatch signed by J.R. Godley for six cases, plus one case, dated 16 June 1852, mounted at back of the catalogue
Christchurch Mechanics’ Institute Archives
A collection of material relating to the early years of the Christchurch Mechanics’ Institute. The Institute was the foundation organisation of the Canterbury Public Library, later known as Christchurch City Libraries.
Library 150 Anniversary Tukutuku Panels
Christchurch City Libraries’ staff teams - from managers to shelvers - created their own unique contemporary tukutuku panels with help from customers during Matariki 2009 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of public library service in Christchurch and will adorn the walls of your libraries for the next 150 years.
Opawa Public Library carnival: Johnson’s Picnic Gardens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13, 14, 15
Pamphlet advertising an event to raise funds for stocking and equipping the Opawa Public Library. Contains a short history of the efforts to establish the library, fund raising activities, lists of local people and some local history of the Opawa and Heathcote areas
Rules of the Sydenham Public Library
Booklet listing duties of Officers; Committee and Librarian duties; and circulation rules.
Special report on the Canterbury Public Library
A report by City Librarian Ron O’Reilly. Contains a brief history of the library, surveys the position and funding for the city library and the suburban libraries in 1951, and makes recommendations for the development of the city library and the development of suburban library services for Christchurch.