The cover of A Standard for the People features a stylised painting evocative of the spirit of the second Wellington Synagogue situated amidst colonial era buildings. Click to enlarge image.

A Standard for the People, edited by Stephen Levine, was published to mark the 150th anniversary of the first Jewish service in New Zealand in 1843, and provides a fascinating record of a Jewish community, that although small, has had a distinctive impact both within New Zealand and the wider Jewish world.
The narrative ranges from an account of the founding of the congregation and its early years to the sacrifices of the Wellington Jewish ANZACS who fought at Gallipoli with the combined Australian and New Zealand Armoured Corps (ANZAC), and to their participation in the renewal of their ancient homeland. It also documents some of the contributions made by Wellington Jews to New Zealand society - prominent industrialists, a Wellington Mayor, a New Zealand Chief Justice. Includes brief histories of a number of Wellington families, some with colonial roots, others with harrowing experiences in the Holocaust. And the story of the Treister family who developed
NZ stamp featuring WW2 engineer wearing lemon-squeezer hat
the distinctive lemon-squeezer hats worn with pride by the NZ infantry until 1960.

Large format 2135 x 1110 mm 478 pages Many illustrations.
Some copies are still available from the New Zealand Jewish Archives at $100 including (surface) postage world-wide.

Notes on Jewish Participation in New Zealand History

Contributed by Michael Clements

Click here, to access this key article.

The New Zealand Jewish Archives

Since 1980 the New Zealand Jewish Archives has been collecting, storing, and filing documents, photographs, memorabilia, Judaica, books, pamphlets, newspaper cuttings, oral recordings and video tapes about Jewish life in New Zealand. The collection includes some of the earliest synagogue and other communal records for New Zealand.
The archives store rooms comprise several rooms within the Jewish Community Centre, 80 Webb Street, Wellington, New Zealand. There is no display area.

The organisation was conceived in the early 1980's but, as more people have come to know about it, the collection has grown tremendously - especially over the last few years.
Although the collection is not on regular display, major items of the collection have been displayed at several public exhibitions devoted to the Contribution of New Zealand Jews to the development of our county.
The first Judaica exhibition was held in 1990 to celebrate the first Jewish service (1890) and the second in 1993 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation. [ Subsequently, in 1995, the wonderful book "A Standard for the People" edited by Stephen Levine was conceived and subsequently published. There are copies still available, for $100.00, including post and packing world-wide ]
In 2006, the exhibit, "Making a Difference" was staged in Wellington, celebrating the particular contributions made by individual Jews to enrich New Zealand Society.

The Archivist, Mr Michael Clements MNZM JP, assisted by volunteers, will answer well-posed enquiries bearing on genealogy and family history. A donation towards the archives is expected for such enquiries.

To contact the New Zealand Jewish Archives
By Email:
By Mail:
        NZ Jewish Archives
        80 Webb Street
        New Zealand
By Phone:    +64 4 384 5081
By FAX:      +64 4 478 9061

Links - an annotated list

  • The first Jewish settler in New Zealand was Joel Samuel Polack, who arrived in 1831. Polack left New Zealand in 1837, returning in 1842. He finally departed New Zealand in 1850, emigrating to California where he died. He authored two books describing his experiences in pre-colonial New Zealand.
  • Website of the Australian Jewish Historical Society AJHS. The Australian jewish Historical Society Journal, published by the AJHS has included many articles relevant to the Jewish experience in New Zealand. A particularly useful feature of this web-site is a comprehensive online cumulative index to all articles in the AJHS Journal from Volume 1, which commenced in 1939, to Volume 16 (last issue was in 2003), arranged by subject and category.
  • Home Page of the New Zealand Jewish Archives. Placed online July 2006.
This list of web pages related to the Jewish Community in New Zealand and its History is continued on the Information Sources page.

Books on the New Z ealand Jewish Community and History

  • Goldman, Lazarus Morris. The history of the Jews in New Zealand. Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1958.

  • Levine, Stephen. The New Zealand Jewish community. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington, 1999.

This list of books concerning the Jewish Community in New Zealand and its History is continued on the Information Sources page.

Jewish Community Centre, Wellington, home to the Archives, in 2006.
Opening page of Wellington Community Death Register, showing the first deaths recorded.
Click thumbnail to view larger image.

Deep Within the NZJ Archives.
One of the storage rooms of the NZ Jewish Archives is a battleax shaped room behind the Ark in the Center. Here, in the narrow corridor that is the handle of the battleax, archivist Michael Clements displays one the illuminated addresses within the archives collection. Each of these illuminated addresses was presented to a prominent person on a landmark occassion, are historically unique, and in their expression of esteem often present contemporary attitudes not otherwise available to the researcher.