Our archives - Overview

Several thousand records relating to many aspects of state housing, including those relating to houses at one time owned by the state, are held by Archives New Zealand. You can access these records through their website, Archway(external link).

State housing in New Zealand had been managed by many different agencies over the years, and the records reflect this. There are items from the Housing Division of the Ministry of Works, the State Advances Corporation, Housing Corporation of New Zealand and Housing New Zealand Ltd.

Other agencies such as the Police, Education, Māori Affairs, the Post Office, Corrections and others also owned houses which were at times managed by the different Housing New Zealand agencies.

If you find something you wish to use contact Archives New Zealand(external link).

Information on ex-state houses

We also have records that are sought by people wanting to find out about specific properties. The collection includes building and drainage plans and photos. This information is often of interest to local councils, home owners and renovators.

Find out more about requesting plans


We have a collection of historical photographs covering state houses, subdivision work, housing construction and related activities. We also have staff portraits, team photos, office interiors and subjects of interest to people interested in the history of New Zealand's state housing agencies.

These images may be of interest if you are researching social history, building industry activities and developments, or genealogy.

If you have a relative who worked for one of the agencies managing state houses, contact us and ask to speak to someone from our Records Team to see if a photograph is held. For photos of identifiable individuals we need a request in writing showing your relationship to the person.


We Call It Home

In 2005 - the centenary of state housing - Dr Ben Schrader's book We Call it Home - A History of State Housing in New Zealand was published.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and with the support of Housing New Zealand, the book captures the human story of state housing and its contribution to national life.

It reflects upon the people who have lived in state homes, their experiences, the development of state housing design, the changing needs of tenants and the perceptions of state housing neighbourhoods over the years.

You can find out more about the book at the NZHistoryNet website(external link).

We Call It Home is available at most booksellers.

State Housing in New Zealand

State Housing in New Zealand – text by Cedric Firth, illustrations selected by Gordon F Wilson. Published by the Ministry of Works, Wellington. This captures state housing in 1949. It is filled with floor plans and photographs.


Housing is today a major issue. This is as true of New Zealand as it is of most other countries. Probably never before have so many houses been wanted so quickly. And perhaps never before has the problem been so complex.

The close connection between happiness, health, and housing needs little proof, and one of the principal tasks of the next decade should be the provision of a decent house for every family in New Zealand. This is a huge job, but when planning is followed by action on the part of Government and private industry there is a reasonable chance that the objective will be reached.

This report owes its origin, in the main, to the inquiries received from overseas and local sources concerning the activities of the Housing Division of the Ministry of Works.

Building the New Zealand Dream

You can also find historical information on state housing in Building the New Zealand Dream, by Gael Ferguson (ISBN 0-86469-191-2).


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