Kowai Archives Society

The Kowai Archives is housed in the former Kowai County Council building at Balcairn, on Highway 72 halfway between Sefton and Amberley.

The 1922 District Peace Memorial building has an Historic Places Trust classification Grade 2. Marble War Memorial plaques for World War One and World War Two are displayed in the foyer.
Unfortunately, the Canterbury earthquakes 2010/2011 have damaged the building, so until it is repaired we are unable to have regular open days for the general public. A small group of volunteers continues to keep records up to date and provide help for researchers.

Kowai Archives Society was established after Sefton Country Women’s Institute recorded recollections of older residents. The interest and community bonding was inspiring so it was decided to “collect, preserve, research and exhibit records…to illustrate and record [the] cultural history of the area.” The Kowai-Sefton Archives and the Amberley Historical Society combined and together restored the County Council building, moving in in 1995.

We have the original school admission registers for all the schools in the area. There are school photos and many other photos of people, places and events. We hold cemetery, marriage and baptism records. Clubs, associations and businesses have given us their minute and record books. We hold newspaper clippings of local people and events, scrapbooks and family trees. We have old maps and indexes for the original land holdings.

We can help with local history and genealogical research. If you are unable to visit us, we charge a minimum of $10 an hour for our research time and 50 cents a photocopy sheet. We are happy to let you know if we hold information on your research topic.

Our collection area is the former Kowai County Council catchment, between the Ashley and Waipara Rivers and the sea and Mount Grey. The largest town is Amberley and the smaller settlements are Amberley Beach, Broomfield, Balcairn, Leithfield, Leithfield Beach, Sefton, Mt Grey Downs, Ashley and Saltwater Creek.

Contact Details

C/- Mrs R. J, Hayes 12 Springside Place, Redwood, Christchurch 8051



We are all volunteers and will endeavour to answer and research your queries. We have many years of local knowledge and can usually point people in the right direction if we cannot help. Terry Green, 03 3103060, is our Chairperson.

Visitor Information

1091 Upper Sefton Road, Balcairn, on Highway 72 halfway between Sefton and Amberley

Open by arrangement for groups and researchers.



Wheelchair access

Reference library


Public programmes

Membership club


Other Facilities

Museum publications & brochures
-43.20968 172.69577 16 Kowai Archives Society
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