Special Settlements


A few organised settlements were created between New Zealand Company activity (1840s) and assisted immigration (1871+).

As part of the ‘Vogel’ Immigration under the Public Works and Immigration Act 1870, the government attempted to set up Special Settlements as a basis for further development. Most were peopled by specific groups of assisted immigrants – British, Scandinavians and Germans (a term used loosely) the most common.

Immigrants to Special Settlements in the 1870s were usually government-assisted to New Zealand. Passenger lists are found online through <familysearch.org> or in the Wellington Reading Room [IM 15]. Many passengers from Scandinavia and Germany went via Britain, but some 15 voyages sailed directly to New Zealand from Hamburg and Christiana (Oslo).

Most settlements were in remote parts of New Zealand and some did not last long. Sites were unsuitable, access difficult, and government support lacking.


A Presbyterian settlement, led by the Rev Norman McLeod, was formed at Waipu in Northland. Over 800 migrants came from the Scotland via Nova Scotia. The first reached Auckland from Adelaide on the Gazelle, 17 Sept 1853, settling at Waipu the next year. Four ships followed from Nova Scotia, Gertrude 1856, Spray 1857, Breadalbane 1858, and Ellen Lewis 1860.

Crown Purchase Deeds 1854 [ABWN 8102 W5279 AUC 308, 310, 318, 378]

Crown Grants [ABWN 8090 W5274] and Internal Affairs Inwards Correspondence [IA 1 1853/2972-1856/1176] also hold relevant records.


Set up in the north eastern Kaipara Harbour 1862-1865, the settlement struggled to survive.  Many of the 2000-3000 migrants soon left.

Register, first four ships passengers (Matilda Wattenbach, Hanover, William Miles & Gertrude) [BAAZ 4115/1a] (AK)

H Brett & H Hook Albertlanders 1927 & 1979

J Borrows Albertland Wellington 1969


This settlement by Bohemians north of Auckland began in 1863. The first settlers arrived in Auckland on the War Spirit in June 1863.  More migrants came on the Liverpool in 1866 (no list) and in 1873.

War Spirit passenger list [MSL 23 (Repro)]

Register recording War Spirit passengers [BAAZ 4115/1a] (AK)

Index to Crown Grants [BAAZ 1175] (AK)

J Williams ‘Puhoi, the Bohemian Settlement’ in The German Connection J Bade ed Auckland 1993


Legislation in 1858 allowed for a special Bay of Islands settlement. Regulations followed in May 1864 and early 1866 (see NZ Gazette). The Mary Shepherd landed 40 settlers at the Bay of Islands on 12 February 1866 and 35 in Auckland soon after.  Secondary material in Auckland office and Register [BAIE 4115/2a] (AK)


Influenced by the success of Bishop Monrad’s Danish settlement at Karere in the Manawatu from 1866, Vogel sought more Scandinavian settlers. The first arrived in early 1871 (Celaeno & England) for Palmerston North.

Passenger lists [IM 15]

Correspondence, 4 February 1871 to 28 May 1873 [IM 6/7/1 1871/4 – 1873/394]

FEILDING − the Manchester Block

On 23 December 1871 Colonel Feilding signed an agreement with the central and Wellington governments for the Colonists’ and Emigrants’ Aid Corporation to buy, for ₤75,000, the Manchester Block – 106,000 acres between the Pohangina & Rangitikei Rivers. The government was to pay ₤15 per passage and provide public works employment for settlers on arrival.

Surveying began in 1872 and the block (mostly bush) was set aside for migrants on 4 September 1873.  The first approved settlers arrived at Foxton on the Duke of Edinburgh in January 1874. More came to Wellington on the Salisbury, Ocean Mail, Mongol, Woodlark, Golden Sea, Waikato, La Hague & Euterpe, reaching Foxton by coastal steamer.  Settlers went by tram to a Palmerston North depot, and then by rough track to the block.

By late 1874, 910 immigrants had arrived, most from Buckinghamshire and Middlesex − farm labourers, with some timbermen and artisans.

Passenger lists [IM 15]

Correspondence, 5 January 1872 to 28 October 1878 [IM 6/3 4/1 1872/1 – 1878/1115]

T A Gibson The Purchase and Settlement of the Manchester Block …  Feilding 1936; reprint 1983

DA Davies & RE Clevely The Manchester Block 1874-1974 A Centennial History … Feilding 1981

40/70 MILE BUSH − Wairarapa & southern Hawkes Bay

Most Scandinavian immigrants in the 1870s settled east of the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges in the ‘Bush’.  The whole area was called 70 Mile Bush, especially at its northern end, but the part lying south and east of the Manawatu Gorge was also called 40 Mile Bush.

In four years of organised Scandinavian immigration 3327 people arrived under this government scheme.  The new settlers landed from 1872 at Napier or Wellington depending on their allocated land.

Settlements were located near the line of road and railway between Wellington and Napier.  Early Hawkes Bay arrivals went to Norsewood, Makaretu, Makotuku and Dannevirke (Ballarat, Hovding, Fritz Reuter & Friedeburg), while Wairarapa settlers (England, Forfarshire & Halcione) were centred on Eketahuna and Mauriceville.  Later Scandinavian migrant ships: Bebington, Schiehallion, Jessie Readman, Glenlora.

Passenger lists [IM 15]

Correspondence – general, 9 July 1873 to 2 February 1875  [IM 6/3/1 1873/645 – 1875/623, Micro 1921]

Correspondence – Southern Hawkes Bay (70 Mile Bush) 28 September 1871 – 12 January 1877 [IM 6/7 9/1 1871/55 – 1877/258, Micro 1921-1922]

Correspondence – Northern Wairarapa (40 Mile Bush) 4 May 1872 – 10 October 1877 [IM 6/6 8/1 1872/116 – 1877/959, Micro 1921]

G C Petersen Forest Homes: the story of the Scandinavian settlements in the Forty Mile Bush Reed, Wellington, 1956

C J Carle Forty Mile Bush: A Tribute to the Pioneers North Wairarapa News, Pahiatua, 1980


This attempt at settlement in 1873 lasted only a short time.  The first settlers for Port William arrived at Port Chalmers on 4 April 1873 on the Euterpe (Passenger list [IM 15/38]; Report for the voyage [IM 5/4/4 No.38]).

Correspondence 23 October 1871 to 1 February 1875 [IM 6/7 10/1 1871/68 – 1875/1495]

‘Papers Relating to Special Settlement on Stewart’s Island’ AJHR 1872 D-7A.

Basil Howard Rakiura: A History of Stewart Island… Reed, Dunedin, 1940 (reprint 1974) [pp238-50]

Olga Sansom In the Grip of an Island: Early Stewart Island History Craigs, Invercargill 1982 [pp127-129]


Karamea settlers came from immigrants to Nelson August 1874 and February 1875 (Adamant, Chile, Ocean Mail & Michael Angelo), British agricultural labourers, crofters and fisherman, from the Midlands, West Counties, Cornwall and Shetland Islands.

The first male settlers left Nelson on 22 November 1874 on the steamer Wallace, arriving at the Karamea River 5 days later.  The next 60, mostly wives and families, arrived In January 1875 and groups followed on 24 February, 5 & 31 March 1875.  Conditions were so bad that some left within a month.  Those who stayed made progress and Karamea ceased to be a special settlement in October 1877.

Passenger lists [IM 15]

Correspondence 12 August 1875 to 27 February 1878 [IM 6/5 6/1]

[Dulcie Harmon] Karamea District Centennial 1874-1974 Karamea 1975


This settlement began in January 1875, supervised by the Westland Provincial Government. Its settlers came from Britain, Scandinavia and continental Europe, but were recruited within New Zealand. Government did little to support the settlement. Most settlers moved away; those who stayed spread to cattle runs from the Cascade to the Haast Rivers.

Correspondence 16 January 1875 to 8 November 1880 [IM 6/3 5/1; IM 6/4 5/2 & 5/3; IM 6/5 5/4]

‘Jackson’s Bay Special Settlement’ AJHR 1879 H-9

‘Commission: Jackson’s Bay Special Settlement’ AJHR 1879 H-9A, H-9B

‘Report on Settlement at Jackson’s Bay (with map)’ AJHR 1884 II C-1 Appendix 5 p76

Irvine Roxburgh Jacksons Bay: a Centennial History Reed, Wellington 1976


The western Bay of Plenty was chosen for settlement by a group of ‘Ulstermen’ from Northern Ireland. 238 settlers left Belfast on 8 June 1875, on the Carisbrooke Castle, and arrived in Auckland in 1875. A second group came in 1878 on the Lady Jocelyn.

Passenger lists [IM 15]

Correspondence 14 September 1871 to 23 September 1874 [IM 6/8 11/1 1871/66 – 1874/1398

Correspondence 22 May 1875 to 17 February 1879 [IM 6/8 11/2 1875/718 – 1879/234]

Special Settlement Ledger, for Te Aroha, Te Puke & Katikati No.1 & No.2 – Land Grants 1878-1889 [BAPP 24517 A1721/231a]

‘Katikati Special Settlement’ AJHR 1879 H-10

Arthur J Gray An Ulster Settlement: the story of the Katikati settlement Reed, Wellington 1950

Evelyn Stokes A History of Tauranga County Palmerston North 1980 pp135-166


Immigration – Correspondence – Special Settlements 19 February 1871 – 10 May 1890 (mostly Scandinavian & German immigration) [IM 6/1 2/1 1871/2 – 1890/136]

Immigration – Correspondence – Special Settlements 29 January 1872 – 22 June 1876 (mostly organisation of immigrants; some names) [IM 6/1 1/1 1872/15 – 1876/751]

See also: the online encyclopedia Te Ara which gives access to The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (1966). Both have relevant articles, as does New Zealand’s Heritage (1973).