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Library Subject Guides

Ōtautahi - Christchurch: How To Find


Books and Journal Articles

Multisearch is a great place to start as it searches for both books and journal articles.


For a more detailed search of New Zealand articles, begin with Index New Zealand


We hold The Press from 1861 to current, a range of community papers and some Canterbury newspapers. For a full list, a link to historical Christchurch papers online, and information about the indexes to The Press and The Star, see our newspapers guide.

Street Directories and Almanacs

These are useful for tracing who lived at an address and what occupations or businesses were in an area. In addition they often have advertising and maps that add extra layers of information. We have a wide range—ask us for help in identifying them.


Maps contain a wealth of information. The earliest map we have is Part of the Canterbury settlement [1851].  

To see the range of maps held here at the Macmillan Brown Library, search the library catalogue using subject keyword: Christchurch (N.Z.) - Maps.  

There are a wide range of online sources of maps. Try these first:


For aerial photographs of streets have a look at Canterbury Historical Aerial Imagery Gallery (1925-2004) which is part of Canterbury Maps, or V.C. Browne & Son Aerial Photograph Collection (1932-1978).

For more information on identifying and locating maps, see the New Zealand History subject guide.


The library holds thousands of original photographs in a variety of formats, including many historic photographs of Ōtautahi. Search photographs via Kā Kohika

Architectural Drawings

The Macmillan Brown Library holds one of the largest collections of architectural drawings in New Zealand, including drawings by B. W. Mountfort, W. B. Armson, Sir Miles Warren, Don Donnithorne, Peter Beaven, Paul Pascoe and other noted Canterbury architects. Search architectural drawings via Kā Kohika.



The Macmillan Brown Library holds nearly 5000 linear metres of archival material from many individuals and groups. The archives include diaries, letters, unpublished manuscripts, financial records, meeting minutes and much more. Listings of archive collections can be searched via Kā Kohika.



Containing nearly 5000 artworks, the UC art collection has a focus on Canterbury artists and those who taught or studied at UC. Have a look at the Ōtautahi Christchurch content block to see some of our artworks with a Christchurch theme.


Ephemera is material created for a temporary use only. The Macmillan Brown Library has a fascinating collection of paper ephemera on a wide range of topics from art and music to politics and the environment. The collection is not yet catalogued so ask at the desk if you'd like to learn more about it, we'd be delighted to introduce you to it.

Local Government Publications

The Canterbury Provincial Council operated from 1853 to 1875. Material containing the activities of the Provincial Council are published in three sources; the New Zealand Gazette (Canterbury Province), the Ordinances of the Province of Canterbury, and the Journal of Proceedings.

Christchurch City Council (CCC) has a wide range of information on its website including statistics, heritage and plans & strategies. You can see an archive of their earlier websites here.

Environment Canterbury (Ecan), the regional council, is responsible for air quality, biodiversity and biosecurity, freshwater, hazard management, transport and urban development. Find more detail on their website.  

Online Resources 

There is a wealth of online Christchurch material, these are a few places to start:

Contact me for help

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Caroline Syddall
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Macmillan Brown Library.

My hours of work are Monday-Thursday 8.30-5.00
03 3693883 or x93883