Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Collections can be found in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library and the four research centres or regional hubs at Central, North (Takapuna Library), West (Waitākere Central Library) and South (Manukau Library). The collections contain archives and manuscripts, photographs, maps, ephemera (e.g. posters and pamphlets), serials (e.g. newspapers and magazines), oral histories, music collections and books, including rare first editions and private press. Exhibitions and smaller displays that draw on these collections are also held at the research centres and in the Central City gallery on Level 2.

Collectively these documentary heritage collections form a valuable research resource that is of local, regional, national and international scope and significance. They cover an array of subject matter, such as local history, colonial settlement, family history and Māori and Pacific whakapapa, arts and music, and social justice, community and religious groups. Each of the research centres has its own specialisations and holdings that reflect its regional location. The Sir George Grey Special Collections, which is one of New Zealand’s key research destinations, has a dual focus on Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and Northland. Its extensive collections were founded on the basis of a significant gift in 1882 by the 19th century Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey (1836­-1910).

Auckland’s history can be researched through the published records – including the New Zealand Herald and other newspapers and journals. Search the photograph collections to see the local and landmark sites including the building of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and panoramas of the volcanoes / maunga. Unpublished records can be found in Kura Heritage Collections Online and related platforms for images and unpublished collections including Heritage Images and Manuscripts Online

Collections of particular interest to Auckland History:

  • Early European contact and settlement Charles Heaphy’s plan of Auckland (1851); Captain William Hobson’s (first Governor of NZ) correspondence (1835-1846); Sarah Felton Mathew’s journals and scrapbook detailing the early settlement of Auckland (1840-1847).
  • Environmental and social action/justice organisations Auckland Peace Foundation (1980s-2000s);
  • JT Diamond Archive – research and documentation of West Auckland including photographs and field books
  • Literature –manuscripts of novels by Jane Mander and Robin Hyde; SAPC – South Auckland Poet’s Collective
  • Māori – Grey NZ Māori Manuscripts containing waiata, mōteatea and whakapapa (19th century); Ngā reta Māori / Grey Māori Letters written by Māori and Moriori to Sir George Grey and his contemporaries (1840s-1890s).
  • Performing Arts, including Music and Theatre –Mercury Theatre papers (1963-1992); papers of Auckland councillor and entertainment entrepreneur Philip (‘Phil’) Warren (1960s-1970s);
  • Women’s organisations – Auckland Lesbian Archive (1985-1995); Broadsheet Collective administrative records (1971-1999); Onehunga Ladies Benevolent Society Inc. minute books (1873-2004).

Visit the library website to explore the Heritage et AL blog and the SoundCloud channel with podcasts from the Heritage Talks series.

And the Auckland Research Centre FB page for more stories.


General contact details:

Heritage Collections

Level 2, Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne Street, Auckland 1010

Phone: 09 377 0209; Email:

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm


Research Central

Level 2, Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne Street, Auckland 1010

Phone: 09 307 7771; Email:

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9am-8pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm


Research North

Level 1, Takapuna Library, 9 The Strand, Takapuna, 0622

Phone: 09 890 4924; Email:

Opening hours: Monday 9am-6pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-5.30pm, Thursday 9-8.30pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9.30am-4.30pm


Research West

Level 2, Waitākere Central Library, 3 Ratanui Street, Henderson, 0612

Phone: 09 892 4966; Email:

Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-5.30pm, Thursday 9-7pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm


Research South

3 Osterley Way, Manukau Library, Manukau, 2104

Phone: 09 261 8637; Email:

Opening hours: Monday and Friday 9am-5pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 9am-5.30pm, Thursday 9am-7pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm