Historic climate research is carried out under the Climate Present & Past project. Some of the research is detailed below.
- Old paper records of atmospheric pressure in New Zealand centres from the mid-19th century to mid-20th century have been scanned and digitised for inclusion in the International Surface Pressure Databank, which helps to reconstruct past circulation patterns over the earth.
- Old New Zealand newspapers with atmospheric pressure data have been digitised and records have been added to the International Surface Pressure Databank.
- A data rescue trip to Samoa was carried out in 2012 to locate potentially useful climate records from the Pacific that had not previously been digitised.
Davis weather diaries
The English missionary Reverend Richard Davis kept a weather diary during his time in Northland in the 1830s, 40s, and 50s. It is likely that these observations are the oldest surviving long-term instrumental weather records made in New Zealand. NIWA has digitised this data and reconstructed climatic variations from the period. This research was published in early 2016 in Climate of the Past and was featured on One News in April 2016.
Ship's logbooks contain weather data. For historical climate reconstruction before continuous land-based observations are available for New Zealand, ship's logbooks provide a valuable resource.