Documentary heritage

Special Collections holds a wealth of documentary heritage material, including rare books, manuscripts, archives and more.

These holdings have been acquired by the library through generous donations and bequests, and purchase and transfer, since the University was established in 1883.

Manuscripts and archives

Search across all archives or through the individual repositories below.

Special Collections Manuscripts and Archives

1960s photo of four women, one holding a baby, in front of shops, holding signs protesting against nuclear testing. MSS & Archives A-244.

Extensive archival collections including literary papers, records of activist groups and political parties, and University-related material such as personal papers of academics and alumni, and records of student clubs and societies.

Search Special Collections Manuscripts and Archives

Western Pacific Archives

1948 telegram. MSS & Archives 2003/1, WPHC 9, 14/20

The internationally significant Western Pacific Archives contains official British colonial records for the region.

It covers the period 1877-1978 and includes records relating to Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Search the Western Pacific Archives

Guide to the Western Pacific Archive

Architecture Archive

Elevation of proposed Farmers’ Co-operative Auctioneering building on St George’s Bay, Road, 1918. MSS & Archives Arch 2020/13.

Drawings and records of prominent architects, particularly for the Auckland region, and material relating to the national development of town planning.

Supplemented by the Sheppard Collection of clippings relating to architects  who practised in Aotearoa, and the Measured Drawings Collection (searchable via the Catalogue), mostly of New Zealand buildings, by University of Auckland architecture students.

Search Architecture Archive

Search unprocessed holdings

Fine Arts Archives

Thomas Gulliver process sketch for lithographic print. MSS & Archives FA 2015/01

Fine Arts archives relating mainly to Elam School of Fine Arts students and staff, and the wider Auckland art scene over many decades.

These are supported by a large ephemera collection of artist and gallery files.

Search Fine Arts Archives

Published collections

Explore the named and general collections of rare books and other published items.

New Zealand Glass Case and New Zealand Pamphlets

Illustration of butterflies from: NZ moths and butterflies.

Aotearoa and Pacific-related works from the 18th century onwards, with strengths in Māori and Pacific material, literature, fine arts, architecture, politics, University history, and more.

Search the catalogue

Te Kohinga o Tūtahi Tonu

Detail from front cover of Oma Rāpeti.

Ngā kōrero e pā ana ki te whakarauoratanga i te reo Māori me te mātauranga Māori mai i te 1970 ki te 2000.

Books, reports and classroom resources relating to Māori language revitalisation and Māori education, 1970-2000.

Some of the collection is available online. View these items.

Search the catalogue

Artists’ Books and NZ Illustrators Collection

Photographs, documents on a clipboard, and miniature jeep. "Untitled Artists' Book" by Simon Esling, 2009.

Artists’ Books, including many made by Elam School of Fine Arts alumni and staff.

The NZ Illustrators Collection contains works from the 1890s-1990s illustrated by New Zealand artists, and was originally formed by bookseller Rowan Gibbs.

Search the catalogue

Glass Case

Page of text in Latin, with marginal manuscript note, from: Albertus Magnus de arte intelligendi.

Rare books and fine printing from the 15th century onwards covering diverse subjects and in multiple languages.

Includes formed collections of works by Thomas Hardy and William Butler Yeats.

Search the catalogue

Hugh Price and Betty Gilderdale Collections

Detail from front cover of The hungry lambs.

The Hugh Price Collection of historic school textbooks and readers were donated in 2001 by publisher Hugh Price.

The Gilderdale Collection features local children's books largely from the 1970s-1990s, donated in 2000 by educator and author Betty Gilderdale.

Search the catalogue

Architecture Historical and Folio Collections

Manuscript notes on page facing printed house elevation from: Designs and examples of cottages, villas, and country houses

The Historical Collection contains architecture monographs from the 17th to 20th centuries.

The Folio Collection of large format and mostly 19th century volumes canvases key styles, notable buildings and technical documentation.

Search the catalogue

Music Glass Case and AV Collection

Detail of manuscript cover label on volume from: Beethoven’s 5 simphonies

The Music Glass Case contains mainly pre-1850 scores and books, more modern rare and first edition scores, and facsimiles, plus local song sheets, ca. 1920s-1960s.

Music AV material includes 78s, vinyl and CDs of local and international works.

Search the catalogue

Asian Languages Collection

Detail of illustration of birds eating fruit from: Jie zi yuan hua zhuan san ji

Chinese old and rare books from the 17th-20th centuries, spanning philosophy, history, religions, literature, drama, and more.

Also rare Japanese titles.

Search the catalogue

Philson Historical Collection

Detail of illustration of a human skeleton from: Vivae imagines partium corporis humani

Rare books published before 1900 covering medical science and practice, including anatomy, gynaecology, physiology, psychology, pharmacology and surgery.

The post-1900 Philson Historical Collection is held by Te Herenga Hauora | Philson Library. 

Search the catalogue

Paterson Collection

Detail of illustration from: Luciani Samosatensis Opera

Books and journals on biblical studies, classics and ancient history, bequeathed in 1933 by Classics Professor Alfred C. Paterson.

Search the catalogue

Forder collection

Diagram detail from front cover of A treatise on algebraic plane curves.

Mainly 19th and 20th century mathematical texts donated in 1974 by Mathematics Professor Henry G. Forder.

Search the catalogue

Marylyn Mayo Rare Book Room

old rare books on shelf

The Marylyn Mayo Rare Book Room in Te Herenga Ture | Davis Law Library features two rooms of rare and historical books, including a substantial collection of Nominate Reporters. A reading room is attached, which contains facsimile reprints of legal classics. The collection also houses publications by members of the Faculty of Law, along with the archive collections of Peter Mahon and Martyn Finlay.

Search the Catalogue and contact Te Herenga Ture | Davis Law Library


Microfilm reel on a microtexts machine.

Filmed copies of newspapers, archives and other material. Key resources include Māori Land Court Minute Books and the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau series. For use in the Microtexts room.

Search the catalogue