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Last updated: 3 September 2019

Nelson City Council

About Nelson City Council

Nelson City Council was established in 1874, it took over the responsibilities of the regions Board of Works that was set up by the Nelson Provincial Government in 1854. It is a unitary local authority with responsibility for Nelson City and surrounds.

The Nelson City Council archives collection includes a full set of Council meeting minutes, from 1876 to the present day, including indexes to the minutes up to the 1980s. Prior to 1876 the archives holdings are piecemeal and include mostly cemeteries information and some property documents. Records of the Nelson Provincial Government are with Archives New Zealand.

As well as minutes, the collection includes Town Clerk and City Engineers outwards letter books, and remnants of subject file series created over the years. The subject files include some inwards correspondence and provide evidence of some early decisions and actions. Some highlights of the collection include:

- Letter Books [Outwards] approx. 1876 to 1935 – Mostly from the Town Clerks office, but also includes City Engineer, City Surveyor, Hospital Board and Fire Board. Not all of these volumes are indexed.

- Subject files approx. 1911-1938 - Possibly remnants of an early correspondence series. Bundled by year, A-Z. They only have a few items in each alphabet file, but provide an interesting snapshot in time. Letters in this small series cover topics such as Armistice Day, ANZAC Day, Pelorus Jack, the origin of Daylight Savings, commiserations for the Titanic tragedy, etc.

- Numerous series of subject files from approx. 1928 onwards – Subject files are either arranged alphabetically by letter of the alphabet, or by topic or subject and include both inwards and outwards correspondence. Many of the early subject files are from the old Town Clerks office and cover a range of topics.

The Council minute books, letter books, and subject files cover a broad range of topics that highlight interactions Nelson City Council may have had internally, with its community, and as a reflection of events with a national or global impact.

Other archives include cemetery records, maps and plans, a small collection of photographs, property and rating information, etc.

As we do not have usable finding aids as yet, research queries should come directly to the council Archivist, so we can investigate what me might have that will fit your query.

We hold archives regarding local authority activity in Nelson City, Tahunanui, Stoke, and surrounding areas.

We do not hold archives relating to the Tasman Region.

Facilities and services

Contributor type:

  • Local authority

Archive types:

  • Local government

Research services:

Research by appointment only (contact Archivist).

Apply 3 weeks in advance for complex queries and 1-2 weeks for other enquiries.

Reproduction services:

Archives can be photographed during visit if appropriate to the format and condition of the archives.

Scanning and photocopying services available by arrangement.


POA for research on behalf.

No charge to access archives in person.

Copying charges are 20 cents per page

Visitor information

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm.

By appointment only, and in blocks of up to 1-2 hours - with the Archivist or Records staff.

Onsite parking:

Metered parking on street in vicinity.

Public car parking to rear of Civic House (Wakatu Square), first hour free.

No customer parking on site.

Public Transport options available, bus depot adjacent to Wakatu Square.

Physical access:

Access to Civic House via Customer Service Centre, Trafalgar Street entrance.

Where possible we will book a ground floor meeting room for access to archives.

Wheelchair access possible.

Contact details

Contact person:


Nelson City Council, Civic House, 110 Trafalgar Street

Postal address:

PO Box 645
Nelson 7040

Phone number:

  • +64 3 5456779

Website address: