Council Archives

Hurunui District Council archives are comprised of the surviving records created by all predecessor local authorities in the area, roughly bounded by the Ashley and Conway Rivers, stretching inland to the Lewis Pass. Records cover the date range 1867 - 1989, the latter date marking the formation of the Hurunui District Council.

This archive inventory was completed December 1996.

These are the principal local government agencies of North Canterbury for which archives survive. The archives of the below-named include within them archives created by a host of smaller, ad hoc or special purpose local bodies such as reserve and cemetery boards, noxious weed and pest control bodies, and fire authorities.

The archives themselves are stored in the Council’s Culverden Service Centre.

Series List And Series Notes  

The archives of the various local authorities are divided into ‘series’ of like type or provenance. Most series are differentiated only by type (eg: ‘Committee Records”, Minutes’ etc), but in some cases the series is a smaller subordinate authority all of whose records are grouped together (eg: Kowai Cemetery Board).

Waipara Road Board (1867 - 1910) : 

Road Boards, the forerunners of modern local government in New Zealand, had rating powers but executed only the one function their name suggests. The Waipara Road Board was originally part of the first Ashley County (stretching from the Waimakariri to the Hurunui). Its area lay between the Waipara and Hurunui Rivers, as did that of its immediate successor, the Waipara County Council.

Kowai Road Board (1864 - 1912): 

Established in 1864, the Kowai Road Board initially came under the first Ashley County, and eventually merged with the then - new Kowai County Council. Its area roughly lay between the Ashley and Waipara Rivers, on the seaward side of Maungatere (Mt. Grey).

Ashley Road Board (1870 - 1911)  

On the north side of the Ashley River, stretching from Sefton to the Lees Valley, this Road Board merged with the much - reduced Ashley County after the major local body re-organisation of 1911.Virtually no records survive due to the disastrous 1934 Ashley County office fire.

Amuri County Council (1877 - 1989)  

An embryonic Road Board was very quickly replaced by a fully operational county apparatus in the Amuri. This survived (with minor boundary changes) until 1989 saw incorporation into the Hurunui District, the longest-lasting local authority in the area. Long reknowned for having the worst roads in the country, the Council was later involved in the major irrigation works of the 1970’s. Early population centres at Waiau and Culverden were later joined by Rotherham and the tourist resort of Hanmer Springs. The area was bounded by the Main Divide and the Lowry Peaks Range, and the Hurunui and Clarence Rivers.

Cheviot County Council (1895 - 1989)  

Local political machinations saw the creation of a paper county in 1876 (thus fore-stalling the expense of a Road Board), which the same influential landowners ensured did not actually meet until 1895. It was the famous state purchase of the Cheviot Hills Station and settlement of small-holding farmers which ensured this little county sprang into administrative life at that time. Despite accepting some limited co-operation with other counties on special projects, Cheviot County resisted all amalgamation attempts till 1989. Centred on the town of Cheviot, the County stretched from the Hurunui river to the Conway, on the seaward side of the Lowry Peaks Range.

Amberley Town Board (1885 - 1926)  

Constituted a Town District due to its local prominence as a railhead in the 1880’s, Amberley’s administration merged with the surrounding Kowai County in 1926.

Ashley County Council (1876 - 1968)  

As originally constituted this County covered an area now administered by the Waimakariri District Council, as well as the southern half of the Hurunui County. It was however a paper tiger, all powers being devolved to Road Boards until 1911, when a working authority was created covering the area of the old Ashley Road Board, centring on Loburn. The original Council offices were gutted by fire in 1934, destroying virtually all records created to that date.
Ashley County had an ongoing dispute with Oxford County to the west regarding responsibility for the Lees Valley, which was awkwardly split between them.

Kowai County Council (1911 - 1968)  

Born of the break-up of the first Ashley County, Kowai County had its administrative centre for many years at Balcairn. Bounded by the Waipara River in the north, the Ashley River in the south, the Pacific to the east and Ashley County to the west, Kowai joined Ashley in 1968, the administrative centre finally shifting to temporary quarters in Amberley in 1974.

New Ashley County Council (1968 – 1977) 

In 1968 Ashley County Council absorbed the smaller but more populous Kowai County, between Ashley and the sea. Eventually a further amalgamation with Waipara County (1977) saw the creation of a new Hurunui County. This new Ashley County Council were required to hold financial accounts in divisions of Ashley County and Kowai County for a period of five years. New offices were built in conjunction with Waipara County, and opened after their amalgamation in 1977.

Waipara County Council (1909 - 1977)  

Centred on Waikari, but including Townships of Hawarden, Scargill, Waipara, Greta Valley and Motunau Beach, Waipara County replaced the old Waipara Road Board in 1909. It retained its original boundaries until amalgamation with Ashley in 1977 to form the new Hurunui County.

Hurunui County Council (1977 - 1989)  

The forerunner of the current District Council, this ‘super-county’ incorporated three previously extant counties - Kowai, Ashley and Waipara. New purpose-built offices were opened at Amberley in 1978. The County undertook major irrigation work at Glenmark in the early 1980’s, in association with the Ministry of Works, as well as a smaller scheme at Loburn. Hurunui County lasted only 12 years before forced amalgamation took place with the neighbouring Amuri and Cheviot Counties, to form the Hurunui District Council.


Any enquires regarding the collection or access to it should be directed to  Records & Archives, Hurunui District Council. 03 3148816