Frequently Asked Questions
Temporary suspension of the research service 1 May-31 December 2021
We wish to advise researchers that our remote enquiry service and public reading room will be closed for a period of seven months from 1 May 2021. This is being done to allow our team to focus on clearing a significant backlog of new additions to the collection.
We do appreciate that this may be frustrating, and we apologise for any inconvenience it may cause. However, this project will ultimately help make our collection more accessible for researchers, as thousands of new items will be added to our collection management system, as well as being digitised, which will pave the way for more of our collection to be made available online. Since launching in February 2020, our online photo database has been enormously popular, and we are looking forward to expanding this to other parts of the collection from next year onwards.
Keep following our blog, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, as our Collections team will be sharing progress reports, and some of the amazing things they work on over the next few months.
Wondering where to start?
Browse our list of Frequently Asked Questions below to help get you started.
Questions and Answers
Why do I have to make an appointment?
The reading room is located in a ‘back of house’ Collections area, separate from the main Museum complex, which requires all visitors to sign in and be accompanied on site by a staff member. Furthermore, we need some advance notice to ensure that the relevant staff member is available to retrieve objects from storage and assist you during your visit.
For these reasons, unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate ‘drop in’ visitors.
When can I visit the reading room?
The reading room is open 10.30am to 3.00pm Monday-Friday.
What if I can’t visit the Museum?
We are happy to take remote enquiries and offer a free research service. Simply contact us with the details of your query.
How do I get hold of an Air Force personnel file?
We do not hold official records of RNZAF personnel here at the Museum. The records of anyone serving in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) after 1920 are held at the NZDF Personnel Archives at Trentham, Wellington. Details of how records can be accessed or ordered can be found here. Please note that due to privacy laws, the person must be deceased for a third party or family member to be permitted access to their file.
How do I research someone who served in the RNZAF in World War Two?
First, it is a very good idea to get a copy of their personnel file as described above. We would then suggest getting in touch with our Research Team, as we can help explain what it all means and interpret what that person was doing during their service. In addition, we can check to see whether we hold any further information or photos of the individual in our archive.
How can I find out about an individual’s medals and entitlements?
Can I get a photograph of my RNZAF ancestor?
Members of the RNZAF were not routinely photographed in the past as they are today. It is possible we may have an image on a course photograph or other images. Please contact our Keeper of Photographs, Matthew O’Sullivan, with as much information about the individual as possible:
Phone (03) 343 9537.
Can I get copies of photographs from the archive?
If the image you are after is not already available on our online photo database, please contact our Keeper of Photographs, Matthew O’Sullivan, and he will add the image(s) to the database for you to download, free of charge:
Phone: (03) 343 9537
How can I find out more about a person who died while serving in the RNZAF or RAF?
There is a lot of information about casualties available. We hold copies of the official service biographies of all RNZAF casualties during World War Two on microfilm in our reading room here at the Museum. Most public libraries, as well as our reference library, hold the three volume work For Your Tomorrow by Errol Martyn, which lists all New Zealanders who died while in service with the RNZAF or Allied Air between 1915 and 1998. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists deaths during the World Wars and has a searchable database. Auckland War Memorial Museum also has a useful database of New Zealand of war called 'Cenotaph'. It sometimes contains photographs, and information can be added by users as well.
How do I research a person who served in World War One with the RFC/RNAS/RAF?
Some of the 750 or so New Zealanders who served in military aviation with the British air arms in World War One have base personnel files here in New Zealand, which can be found in digital form on Archives New Zealand’s Archway Database. Other personnel files, information, war diaries of units and medal index cards are held by the UK National Archives, and some are downloadable for a charge. We also hold information and material relating to a small number of First World War New Zealand airmen, including those who trained with the Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company at Sockburn, Christchurch.