Western Pacific Archives

The Western Pacific Archives (WPA) contains the records of the British colonial administration in the Western Pacific from 1877-1978. Spanning more than 760 linear metres (about 2,800 archive boxes), the WPA was transferred to Special Collections at the University of Auckland Library in 2002.


Image detail from WPHC 4/IV 823/1930, 3726/1931 and 1665/1933


Geographic spread Organisations Subjects Materials
  • The Solomon Islands
  • Gilbert and Ellice Islands (Kiribati and Tuvalu)
  • New Hebrides (Vanuatu)
  • Tonga
  • Pitcairn
  • Western Pacific High Commission
  • The British Commissioner and Consul Tonga
  • The New Hebrides British Service
  • Land issues
  • Medicine and health
  • Communications
  • Colonisation and decolonisation
  • Public works
  • The World Wars
         ...and more
  • Registers and indexes
  • Correspondence
  • Circulars
  • Financial records
  • Annual reports
  • Local administrative reports
  • Some maps, plans and photographs

Research value

The WPA offers great research opportunities for historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and researchers in many other fields.

Recent research and publications which have drawn on the WPA include:

  • The history of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony
  • The interface between native medical practitioners and the colonial administration
  • German migrants in Tonga
  • Coastwatching
  • The legal status of indigenous peoples
  • Numerous family history projects


The history and structure of the WPA is complex, so we recommend you read the Guide to the Western Pacific Archives for detailed background information and for instructions on searching the online finding aids and gaining access to the collection.

  • All readers must apply for access to the Special Collections Manager.
  • Eighty-seven online finding aids, which provide folder-level descriptions of most of the archive, are readily accessible.
  • Physical WPA records are available in the Special Collections Reading Room within 12-24 hours following a request. Microfilmed records are viewed in the Microtexts Room.

Email: specialcollections@auckland.ac.nz