There was an economic recession in the 1890's which injured the pockets of many New Zealanders. At Auckland National Archives, records of the unfortunate circumstances of people are a source of information on families and individuals who were destitute. (And not just the 1890's).
A card index in the reading room is where to look for surnames of interest which cuts down the time needed to get to the data. (More work from those indexing volunteers.) The reference needed to order the books are on the cards.
Here are two examples from YCAB 15245/1a., Register of Application for Relief with the Auckland Hospital Charitable Aid Board. You can judge whether or not its worth fighting your way through town traffic to get to the archives, but I would recommend it.
With this first example, 16th March 1891, three children named Campbell, John aged 13 and his sisters, Catherine 11 and Mary 8, have been left with their grandparents on their mother's side, Mr and Mrs Corbett in Mt Eden Rd. Their father, Robert Campbell is a steward on the P.S. Fone (sic) in Melbourne, Australia and he has deserted them.