The Whanganui District Council has added a historic rates record database to its website, showing the city's growth and development over the past 150 years.
The database is intended as a record of early residents and their properties in Whanganui, as well as documenting the city's growth as an urban settlement since the mid-19th century.
The new database contains transcribed details from property rolls (or rates records) of the Wanganui Town Board 1862-72, Wanganui Borough Council 1872–1923 and, so far, two years of rate records for Whanganui City Council (1924-26). These records cover the town, borough and city areas but not the county (or country) areas.
"The Wanganui Town Board (1862-72) rates rolls were large parchment sheets that received conservation treatment before being photographed and transcribed," council archivist Simon Bloor said.
"Details here were very brief – the section number (or legal description), name of the owner and a rates expense, some as low as sixpence."
Categories available to search within the database include the owner/occupier – in the historic rates records, the occupier is the person who paid the rates and the owner held the freehold title (often the same name appears for both).
Another category is the rates amount paid, which is shown as pounds, shillings and pence. The pound was New Zealand currency from 1840 until 1967 when it was replaced by the New Zealand dollar.
The historic rates records database project began in 1999 with the input of council heritage staff and community volunteers.
The project was restarted with the help of volunteers in June 2018, and since that time the team has digitised 25,722 more individual rate records.
Volunteers involved in the transcription of documents for the database since 2018 are June Springer, Joan Egan, Frances Haddock, Nola Clark, Sue O'Connor and Carol Tong.
"I've worked with several wonderful volunteers to complete this project," Bloor said.
"Overall, more than 120,000 individual rate records have been transcribed since the project first began.
"Inquiries from the community about the database are welcome – we're also keen to hear suggestions about how we might improve the search functionality and presentation of the results."
For inquiries and comments about the historic rates records database, call Simon Bloor on 06 349 3056 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the historic rates records database and to make an online search, visit https://www.whanganui.govt.nz/Your-Council/About-Whanganui-District-Council/Whanganui-District-Council-Archives/Historic-rates-records-database.