You must be registered with Hocken or be an Otago student or staff member to request items.
You can register in person with photo ID.
Hocken is closed stack and reference-only which means staff will retrieve requested items from the stacks for you to use in the Reading Room.
Core items useful for genealogical and historical research are shelved in the ground floor reference area which is openly available for browsing.
Read our conditions of use and price list for our scanning, copying and reproduction services:
- Terms and Conditions – Reproduction and copying (PDF)
- Price list for Hocken reprographic orders (PDF)
The Library holds a comprehensive collection of books, newspapers, journals and audiovisual materials essentially relating to New Zealand, the South Pacific and early Australasian history, with particular strengths in travel and exploration, early missionary activity and Otago/Southland community history.
Many of the items of interest primarily to genealogists are shelved in the Reference area. Included here are shipping records, electoral rolls, local histories, church, school and cemetery transcripts.
Our collection focus includes:
- New Zealand, and especially Southern New Zealand
- Māori and te reo Māori
- Popular culture
- The Pacific
We also have several named collections that highlight areas of collecting interest.
Hocken's map collection includes maps, hydrographic charts, aerial photographs, atlases and reference material related to cartography, including books and periodicals.
Some maps are kept in the archives collections There are approximately 12,500 items in the map collection. Maps are also found in other collections in the library including the book collection, official publications and archives collections.
Approximately 70 per cent of the maps in the collection can be found via LibrarySearch|Ketu. It is advisable to contact Hocken Library staff in advance with topics of interest so that a search of the collection can take place before your visit.
The Hocken's music collections encompass recorded sound (on a variety of formats from 78rpm discs to digital files), music DVDs, and sheet music. Individual artists and groups of all genres and styles from New Zealand and the Pacific are represented, with an emphasis placed on music from the South of New Zealand, especially Dunedin and Otago.
The collections comprise over 19,000 items of recorded music, and over 2,500 music sheets, and are continually being developed and added to. Particular collection strengths include music relating to the popular music sub-genre colloquially known as the 'Dunedin Sound', sheet music relating to World War One, and the APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) collection of Silver Scroll nominated songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
For further information and research assistance with the music collections, please contact:
Liaison Librarian, Music and AV
Audiovisual material at Hocken Collections comprises over 1000 New Zealand motion picture film, television, and documentary titles, on DVD and videocassette. Film titles range from commercial, international releases such as Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies, to independent local releases like The Dead Lands, and Goodbye Pork Pie.
Television titles include local classics Outrageous Fortune, The Billy T. James Show, and Country Calendar, while documentaries cover both film and television mediums, with topics including sport, politics, national events, war, and nature. The unexpected even appear: Peter Jackson's spoof documentary Forgotten Silver, and Hugo a Vizilo, the Hungarian animation with art design by New Zealand artist Graham Percy.
All published and released audiovisual material is accessible though the Library Search|Ketu discovery layer, while archival collections are accessible through Hakena. Audiovisual material is not digitised, but can be played in Hocken's viewing area.
For further information and research assistance with the audiovisual collections, please contact:
Liaison Librarian, Music and AV
The ephemera collection includes a wide range of printed material such as programmes, leaflets, flyers, packaging, and advertising circulars that was produced for immediate and contemporary use and is usually discarded by most people. However this material reflects the attitudes and opinions of the time as well as contemporary design trends and aesthetic taste. It provides glimpses of everyday life and an insight to the culture and history of New Zealand.
There are over 250 shelves of ephemera in the Hocken Collections and work is being undertaken to organise and categorise it by subject. The bulk of the collection dates from the mid-1960s onwards and focuses on the Otago and Southland region. The ephemera collection is strong in performing arts, educational and tourism material and includes a range of advertising circulars. The collection also includes political ephemera relating to New Zealand general elections from 1966 onwards.
Ephemera can also be found in other collections in the library including the publications and archives collections.
There are approximately 18,000 posters in the posters collection. They range in date from the mid-19th century to present day but the bulk of the collection dates from the mid-1960s onwards. Coverage is largely focused on Otago and Southland and the collection is strong in the areas of health, tourism, and music (particularly the Dunedin sound).
The ephemera and posters collections are not yet listed on any online public access catalogue but the Liaison Librarian (Ephemera) is willing to assist with any inquiries related to these materials. They are able to be viewed in the Special Reading Room of the library.
For specific posters and ephemera enquiries contact:
Liaison Librarian, Ephemera
Our research guides help you to find resources in the collections.