All New Zealanders have either migrated to this country or are the descendants of people who migrated in the past. Māori origins are traced through whakapapa. Formal Pākehā migration recordkeeping began with the New Zealand Company, settlement from 1840, and with the formation of British government after the Treaty of Waitangi in the same year.
Our archives in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin hold some regional immigration information, but most immigration records are held in Wellington.
We hold a variety of ship records, mostly in Wellington. All passenger lists held n Wellington have been digitised and are available through the FamilySearch website under ‘New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists’.
Our Auckland archive holds the inward passenger ship lists for 1909, 1915-1965 [BBAO 5552] (AK)
In Wellington we hold one main shipping record, an alphabetical card index of immigrant ships to New Zealand for the period 1840-1970s. Most of the ships recorded came from Britain and Australia. This index is based on our passenger lists and other records and does not include records of all ships which came to New Zealand. Cards usually note arrival dates and give references to passenger lists.
Information can sometimes be found in Customs records [ACIF 16482] and may also be found in immigration scheme records.
Other useful records of ships and their voyages
Shipping Index, Port of Wellington entry 1856-1887 (alphabetical, in the Wellington Reading Room, created by NZSG, Wellington)
The Comber List or Index (original held in the Wellington Museum of City and Sea) has entries, in chronological order of departure date, for most immigrant ships which arrived in New Zealand from Britain 1839-1889. [ACHU 19327]
The Watt Index - ‘Index to the New Zealand Section of the Register of all British Ships 1840-1950’ (This does not include many immigrant ships because they were registered in Britain.) [ACHU 19328]
Newspapers have usually recorded the arrivals of ships to New Zealand ports in their shipping columns. In the mid-nineteenth century they also recorded passenger lists, until the numbers became too great. We don’t hold newspapers, but many public libraries and museums have some newspapers, in hard copy or microfilm, for their area. The Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington has the largest collection of microfilm newspapers from around New Zealand, and many are available and searchable on their ‘Papers Past’ website.
We don't hold photographs of immigrant ships. See maritime museums, online, and below for possible sources of photographs.
For 1840-1880s our Wellington archive holds records of government-assisted immigrants only, mostly ship passenger lists. The records include about half the total number of immigrants in the period.
The New Zealand Company, Plymouth Company, Otago Association, Canterbury Association, provincial, and central government schemes all assisted migrants to New Zealand. Most assisted immigrant records held in Wellington date from 1871 when central government began to sponsor immigrants.
Ship passenger lists are the main source of migrant information, but we hold other records, such as ships’ papers and registers and files of various schemes to assist people to New Zealand.
Passenger lists 1840-1880s
Card indexes have been created, from all surviving passenger lists and immigrant information held at our Wellington archive, of those assisted to New Zealand by the New Zealand Company, other colonising ventures, provincial and central governments, 1840-1880s. These card indexes are held in the Wellington Reading Room.
General Biographical Index c1840-1880s [Bio 1]
Assisted Immigration Scheme Index 1871-1888 [IM 15]
Canterbury Provincial Assisted Immigrants Index
Additionally, ships’ papers from nineteenth century voyages, especially in the 1870s, may include reports on the voyages and other information. References to these papers are also in the card indexes.
New Zealand Company 1839-50
New Zealand Company records contain information about immigrants to New Zealand 1839-1850. Names are in the General Biographical Index.
Emigration registers of the New Zealand Company are available for searching, in the form of photocopies, in our Wellington archive.
Emigration Registers August 1839-April 1841
Emigration Registers April 1841-October 1842
Emigration Registers November 1842-July 1850 [AAYS 8982]
In our Christchurch archive there are Canterbury Association shipping papers (passenger lists, surgeons’ reports, etc) for 22 voyages to Lyttelton 1850-1852. Material relating to immigration has been indexed. The items are digitised and available in [Series 19645].
Provincial governments, established from 1853, often encouraged immigration, usually through subsidising the passage. Some specific groups of migrants were targeted, such as young unmarried women or families.
Provincial government records, for example:
‘Lists of Immigrant Debtors to the Provincial Government of Otago for Passage Moneys’ 1848-1872 (2 photocopies 1869 & 1872) [ACHU 19316]. These record by ship name immigrants who owe passage money to the provincial government.
Auckland Provincial Government ‘Register of Applications for Passages 1859-1872’ [AP 9/3; AREPRO 4711/448 (AK); REPRO 1615 (W)]
Canterbury Provincial Government immigration:
Shipping papers relating to 13 provincial scheme voyages 1860-1874 [CH 290] (CH)
Provincial government material relating to immigration (indexed) [CH 287] (CH)
Canterbury Passenger Lists 1855-1884 [ACFS 8243] (W)
Other regional records
Immigration Department records held in Wellington are often in record series that are separated under ports of entry. Such as:
Depot Master [ACFR 8239]
Departmental index of inwards letters [ACFS 8240 IM-CH1 1 /]
Outward letters [ACFS 8241]
Lists of immigrants [ACFS 8242]
Passenger lists [ACFS 8243]
Promissory notes and bills [ACFS 8244]
Accounts [ACFS 8245]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - inwards letters [ACFT 8246]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - outwards correspondence [ACFT 8248]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - papers relating to the despatch of immigrants [ACFT 8249]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - surgeons' journals [ACFT 8250]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - medical journals [ACFT 8251]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - surgeons' requisition books [ACFT 8252]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - passenger lists [ACFT 8253]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - miscellaneous ships' papers [ACFT 8254]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - cash books [ACFT 8255]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - ledgers [ACFT 8256]
Secretary to the Immigration Commissioners and Immigration Officer - miscellaneous account papers [ACFT 8257]
Forms for nominating immigrants [ACFU 8260 IM-NP1/1]
"Halcione" Surgeons requisition book [ACFU 8261 IM-NP2/1]
Agreements between employers and immigrants [ACFU 8262 IM-NP3/1]
Outwards letters [ACFV 8263]
Immigration registers [ACFV 8264]
Promissory notes and bills [ACFV 8265]
Cash books [ACFV 8266]
There is a card index containing the Passenger Index Port of Wellington Entry 1856-1887 in the Wellington Reading Room.
Parkhurst Boys 1842-1843
A number of ‘boys’ (many late teens) from Parkhurst Prison in England were pardoned, on condition they went to New Zealand and, in some cases, served apprenticeships. The aim was rehabilitation and the British Treasury paid. St George in 1842 brought 92 boys and another 31 came on the Mandarin in 1843, making a total of 123.
The General Biographical Index lists most boys
Correspondence and Reports ('Guardian of the Parkhurst Boys') about the scheme can be found through Internal Affairs Department Indexes 1843-1845 & Registers
Ship Return for Mandarin listing [IA 1 1844/2097; AREPRO 4711/364] (AK)
The scheme was not a success. Many boys were difficult, and the Protector of Aborigines complained of the harmful effect they had on Māori. No boys were sent after 1843 and this system of immigration was officially discontinued in 1845.
In 1846 Governor George Grey asked the British government to station at least 2500 soldiers in New Zealand to maintain order. The British government sent about 750 army pensioners, with their families, in eleven ships 1847-1853. These retired soldiers, the Royal New Zealand Fencibles, were also known as Chelsea pensioners because their British pensions were administered at Chelsea, London, though paid through the New Zealand Treasury.
The name ‘Fencible’ comes from the word ‘defence’. The pensioners settled in villages to the south and east of Auckland, at Ōnehunga, Howick, Panmure and Ōtāhuhu, as a chain of defence to protect Auckland from an imagined Māori threat. They had nominal military duties in return for free transport to New Zealand for themselves and families, plus a grant of a cottage with one acre, which became their property after seven years.
Fencibles appear in the General Biographical Card Index.
Other records dealing with Fencibles:
Pensions preemptive Schedules 1853-56, Lands & Survey Department [BAAZ 4708/1a] (AK)
Auckland Deposition Books may include additional details [Series 5989] (AK)
Imperial Pensions (General Biographical card index)
Treasury Department Registers 1865-1891 [ADRK 17399]
These large volumes record the pensions paid to British soldiers (including Fencibles) who took their retirement in New Zealand (some retired police and civil servants also included). There may be details of physical description and service. The original book is missing, so those who died before 1865 are not recorded. Personal details for men whose pensions started before 1865 and continued after that date were not usually transferred to later books.
‘Waikato’ Immigration Scheme 1864-1865
See also ‘ Waikato Military Settlers’.
This immigration scheme was part of an attempt by central government to bring large numbers of settlers from the British Isles and the Cape Colony in South Africa to the North Island. The aim was to consolidate the government position after the wars of the 1860s and develop the Waikato area for Pākehā. A loan was to finance the migration and be recouped by the sale of land neighbouring the new settlements. However:
The loan could not be secured in London, and in the end only 3000, instead of the hoped for 20,000, immigrants were brought to New Zealand on 13 ships in 1864-1865. About 2000 came from Britain and 1000 from the Cape.
There were considerable delays in making land available to settlers, who were temporarily housed in poor conditions in Auckland and the Waikato. Nor was land available for sale to cover the expenses of the scheme.
When migrants got onto their land much work was needed before it could sustain a family, let alone make a profit. Public works, such as roads, gave immigrants temporary employment. In spite of the difficulties most stayed and claimed their crown grants three years after settlement.
This scheme was not confined to the Waikato, but also included government-sponsored settlement in the Coromandel and Whāngarei areas.
The many records for this scheme include:
Land records for Waikato Immigrants c1860-1879 [BAAZ 4687] (AK)
Register of Immigrants 1864-65, and Register of Contingent Land Payments and Transfers 1864-1876 (various lists; photocopies for viewing) [BAAZ 1967] (AK)
An alphabetical card index is available in our Auckland archive.
Refunds – Waikato Immigrants c1866-1877 [BAAZ 4688] (AK)
Register of Applications for Grants for Waikato Immigrants 1867-1882 [BAAZ 4689/1a] (AK)
Waikato Immigration - Applications for Crown Grants 1868-1877 [BAAZ 4690] (AK)
Our Wellington archive holds microfilm copies of some of the above records for ‘Waikato’ Immigration:
Nominated immigrants 1871-1891
The Immigration and Public Works Act 1870 provided money for immigration. Agents in Britain recruited immigrants or they were nominated by people already living in New Zealand. Both groups were recorded in passenger lists [Series 8235]. Nominated migrants might appear in other records as well, such as Register Books of Lists of Passage Orders. The Nomination Scheme continued until early 1891 and resulted in the immigration of 31,693 people.
Nomination registers - lists of passage orders
Fourteen registers [ACFQ 8230], record about 8000 passage orders covering more than 19,000 people. The entries in the registers are in numerical order. Information is not always easy to access even though most registers have alphabetical indexes.
The information in the registers varies considerably. The intention was to record: (a) number and date of Passage Order; (b) name, age and occupation of nominee, (c) full address of nominee, (d) name and address of nominator; (e) disposal, that is, details of the outcome of the nomination – usually whether or not people came to New Zealand. In many registers this information is not complete. Registers held are:
Canterbury & Timaru 1871-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/1]
Auckland (very small & incomplete register) 1873 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/1a]
Hawkes Bay 1871-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/2]
Marlborough 1871-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/3]
Nelson & Hokitika 17 February 1872-1874; Greymouth 2 May 1872-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/4]
Otago 1871-1874; Ōamaru 1872-1874; Invercargill 1872-1873; Riverton 1872-1873 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/5]
Taranaki 1872-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/6]
Invercargill 1873-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/7]
Riverton 1873-1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/8]
Timaru 1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/9]
Otago 1874 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/10]
Wellington 1878-1880 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/11]
Wellington 1881-1890 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/12]
Wellington 1890-1891 [(ACFQ 8230) IM 10/13]
Also held are:
Assisted immigrants were expected to contribute £5 per adult towards the cost of passage to New Zealand. Anyone over 12 years of age was considered an adult; a child between one and twelve was half an adult; infants under one year were free.
Regulations for Married Couples and Families stated: “If the Emigrant is unable to pay the whole of the money before sailing, he will be required to sign a promissory note for a sum equal to double the amount remaining unpaid.” According to this promise, repayment was to be in quarterly instalments beginning three months after landing.
Single Women “Cooks, Housemaids, General Servants, Dairy-maids, etc ... not under 15 nor over 35 years of age” could come under slightly different conditions. If unable to pay the fare, they were to sign promissory notes for £5 each, payable on the same conditions as married couples and families.
Our holdings of the following records around promissory notes and bills are incomplete:
Shipping information in hospital records
Wellington Hospital Admission & Discharge Book 1847-1880 includes, for the period February 1877 to June 1880, the names of ships people arrived on and their countries of origin. [ABRR 6889/1]
Land grants: unassisted immigrants 1874-1883
Under the Immigrants Land Act 1873, those paying their own fare to New Zealand were entitled to a grant of Crown land, or of other land available for disposal by the government.
Register of Immigrants 1874-1883 (not including lapsed applications). [(ACFQ 8237) IM 17/1; REPRO 1642]
Registers of subsidised emigrants
These registers record those who entered New Zealand under two short-lived schemes:
‘Small Farmers with Capital’ 1886-1888 [(ACFQ 8238) IM 18/1a], Indexed into the General Biographical Index c1840-1880s
People who received reduced fare passages under arrangements the government entered into with two shipping companies, Shaw Savill & Albion and the NZ Shipping Company, 1904-1906. [(ACFQ 8238) IM 18/1b]
Most immigration records are ship passenger lists held in Wellington in the archives of the Social Security Department, which used them to validate pensions. Passenger lists were not collected systematically until 1910, and even after that there are gaps.
Labour Department archives also include immigration records after 1900 and a few may be found under the Customs Department. See also: Specific Group/Nationality Migrations.
Passenger lists 1883-1973
The passenger lists held in Wellington [ADBO 16135] cover both assisted and unassisted immigrants who arrived by ship from 1883 until 1973. These lists (which sometimes include crew lists) were compiled by shipping companies and collected by customs officials when ships arrived. Later they were passed on to the Social Security Department.
The information recorded on the passenger lists usually includes no more than: surname, initial, age, country of birth or residence, and destination port.
Passenger lists in series 16135 have been digitised by the FamilySearch volunteers in conjunction with Archives New Zealand and are available for free on FamilySearch.
The FamilySearch site has additionally enabled word searching to be done of the passenger list. So if you have identified the name of the passenger you are looking for, and have a date range for their voyage to New Zealand it is easiest to search using the FamilySearch website. You do not need a FamilySearch account to access these records.
These immigration records are grouped, usually three monthly, by port: (a) Auckland, (b) Wellington and (c) the minor ports which were Napier, New Plymouth, Nelson, Lyttelton, Port Chalmers and Bluff.
However, ships often went to more than one port and a passenger list held under Wellington, for example, may include people who disembarked elsewhere. It is worth checking all three sections of the index.
From the 1890s, increasing numbers of passenger and crew lists for ships from Australia and elsewhere are included in the lists, but not indexed.
Passenger lists (indexed) 1883-1915
Passengers for ships that arrived from Britain from 1883 to 1915 are listed in a have been card indexed available in the Wellington Reading Room by surname, and grouped by port as above [SS1]. The card indexes do not include crew members or passengers who embarked after the ship had left Britain, such as in Australia.
If the ship name and date of arrival are known, the Shipping Index can provide a passenger list reference.
Auckland passenger lists
Inward Passenger Lists 1884-1910 from Britain only [ADBO 16135]
The passenger lists are unindexed between 1916-1973
Other immigration records
Immigration case files 1914-2007
Over 200,000 files on individuals and families can be found through Archway, though variant spellings of surnames may need to be tried. Please note that all personal records in this series are restricted for 100 years from date of closure [ABKF 6794].
Labour Department archives include various records of immigration, particularly of people who were not British [L20 – L30]. There are gaps and records are often not well organised. Some access restrictions apply.
Record books: permanent entry permits 1921-1958 [ACGV 8837]
Record books: applicants for temporary entry 1921-1960 [ACGV 8838]
Permit Entry Slips (alphabetical) 1920s-early 1960s (names only) [ABKF 8012]
Entry Permit Correspondence 1939-40 [ABKF 8013]
Immigration Index c1947-1988 (cards, alphabetical) [ABKF 6099]
Various Nominal Draft Rolls c1950-1981, air & sea [Search Series 947 using the keywords 'Draft Roll'] [ABKF 947 W5199 (Boxes 4-5)]
Immigration Drafts: air 1966-1972, sea 1970-1975 [Search Series 947 using the keywords 'Immigration Drafts'] [ABKF 947 W5182 22/6]
Permanent Entry Registers 1976-1989 [Series 8011]
Air draft records (1939-1965 with gaps) are included with shipping [BBAO 5552/30a-81a]
Index of Cornish Immigrants, Canterbury. Available in the Reading Room.
Department of Labour Christchurch District Office, Immigration Division [CH6]
This set of records contain:
Certificates under the Immigration Restriction Act 1907-1957; and,
Index cards to temporary permit files 1930-1960, including a separate index to stowaways, deserters and sick seamen at the end.
Customs Department Greymouth. Miscellaneous registers (13) (overall date range 1877-1980) include some shipping registers for 1929-1980. Some access restrictions apply. [Search Accession CH61/ search for records 1-13]
Department of Labour Christchurch District Office, Immigration Division - permanent entry files 1974-1976. Access restricted for 100 years from date of birth or 40 years from date of death. [Accession CH551]
Specific group/nationality migrations
Most migrants to New Zealand have come from the British Isles. From the 1860s onward a number of other specific group or nationality migrations can be identified at different periods, and we have material on some of these groups. Not all the records refer directly to migration or individuals.
Special settlements 1860s-1870s
Attempts to found special settlements in the 1860s and 1870s quickly failed or struggled for many years.
There were special settlements in the Bay of Islands, at Albertland in the Kaipara Harbour, at Pūhoi north of Auckland, at Katikati in the western Bay of Plenty. In the South Island special settlements were attempted at Karamea, Jacksons Bay and Stewart Island. The Feilding settlement and Scandinavians who migrated in the 1870s to settle in the Wairarapa, Manawatū and southern Hawke's Bay are other identifiable groups.
Ship Passenger Lists (6 ships of 13) 1862-1863 [BAAZ 4115/1a] (AK)
Ship Passenger List (War Spirit) 1863 [BAAZ 4115/1a] (AK)
Other groups arrived in 1866 & 1873 to join this Bohemian settlement
Index to Crown Grants [Series 1175] (AK)
People who went to special settlements were usually assisted passengers and can be accessed through the Wellington card indexes.
Other relevant material in our Wellington archive includes:
Specific files on Special Settlements [(ACFQ 8226) IM 6/1-11] Some on Micro 1921-1922
Reports on some special settlements appear in AJHR of the 1870s. Books have been published on many of the special settlements and should be available in public libraries. There may also be information in resources such as New Zealand’s Heritage (1973), The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (1966) and the online encyclopaedia Te Ara.
Second World War
Three groups of refugees or migrants escaping war came to New Zealand.
Hundreds of wives and children of Chinese already in New Zealand arrived in Auckland and Wellington from August 1939 to early 1941, escaping the Japanese invasion of the later 1930s. See passenger lists [ADBO 16135].
British child evacuees 1940-1941
In 1940 a government committee, under The British Children Emergency regulations 1940, considered offering homes to evacuated British children. The scheme was greeted with great public enthusiasm in New Zealand when announced on 25 June 1940 and over 3000 children were nominated for assisted passages.
Only 202 children arrived, in two groups to Wellington, 27 September 1940 [ABDO 16135 613 July-Sept No.33 Ruahine 89 children] and 4 October 1940 [ADBO 16135 613 Oct-Dec No.1 Rangitata 113 children]. By 31 March 1941 they were in 158 foster homes. Other records:
‘Evacuation of Children from UK 1940-1946’ [(ACIE 8798) EA W2619 (Box 61) 108/4/3 part 1]
‘Official Index of children’ [(ACGO 8369) IA 37/1]
‘Samples of Correspondence … Lists of Children where sent, escorts, etc’ [(ACGO 8369) IA 37/3]
‘Minutes and reports of British Children's Reception Committee 1940’ (ACGO 8460) IA 146/1]
‘British Children Evacuated to New Zealand 1940-1945’ [AADK W4075 (Box 15) 9/8/10] Restricted
War – British Children – General Correspondence 1940-1942’ [CW W1043 40/2/66] Restricted
War – British Children – Education 1941-1943’ [CW W1043 40/2/84] Restricted
War – British Children – Proposed remission of contributions to foster parents 1942-1946’ [CW W1043 40/2/88] Restricted
Polish refugee children 1944-1946
Over 700 Polish refugee children arrived on the US warship General Randall, 31 October 1944, with about 100 Polish adults. The children were placed in a camp at Pahiātua. Within a year or two about 500 other Poles related to the children arrived. A few went home after the war, but most stayed in New Zealand.
Child Welfare, Army, External Affairs and Labour created records. Access restrictions may apply.
Polish children - index cards and files
Polish Child Refugee Personal Files [ACGB 8312] Restricted
Polish child refugees file cards. These are the index cards to the Personal files above [ACGB 8313] Restricted
Polish Children’s Camp, 161 Files 1944-1949 [AAYS 8707 AD 91]
Naturalisation records from 1949 hold information on Polish children who became New Zealand citizens.
Post Second World War Labour Department
“₤10 POMS” 1947-1966
Thousands of British migrants were assisted to New Zealand. Drafts and correspondence are held:
British child migration 1949-1954
After considerable organisation 1948-1949, from 1949 to 1954 the New Zealand government paid for the passages of over 500 children aged 6-18. Boys and girls came to New Zealand in parties of 15-25 until late 1952 when the scheme was halted.
There were difficulties, including expectations on the part of foster parents which were too high and advance reports on children which were too favourable. The scheme was modified and groups of boys, mostly to work on farms, continued to migrate until August 1954.
Files held at our Wellington archive include some lists of the children, reports from voyages out and some reports on individual children.
Hungarian refugees 1956-1957
Labour and External Affairs Department files record the Hungarian refugees who came to New Zealand after the Soviet Union put down the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. Access restrictions may apply.
Hungarian Refugees, Assistance offered ... 1956-1957 [(ACIE 8798) EA 1 108/4/79/2]
After the Second World War, many migrants came to New Zealand from the Netherlands and some from Dutch colonies in South-east Asia. Those who came by ship are recorded in passenger lists (unindexed) [SS1]. Other records include:
Netherlands Drafts 414-425, 1967 [ABKF 947 W5182 22/8 (Box 313)] [Search Accession W5182 and box 313]
Post World War Two Yugoslav immigration
After the Second World War 504 ‘displaced’ Yugoslavs entered New Zealand 1949-1951. Entries are in:
A file: ‘NZ Police reports on Yugoslavs 1948-1952’ gives brief official reports on Yugoslavs seeking to sponsor other Yugoslavs, usually relatives, to New Zealand. R100 [(ACGV 8814) L 1 22/1/121/3]
Other Labour Department records
Labour Department files relating to immigration in the 1950s and 1960s are extensive.
Identifiable groups, among many other arrivals by sea and air 1950s-1960s, are:
Registered Case Files of Temporary-entry Immigrants [(ACGV 8832) L20]
This is a restricted access series. It represents a sample of 813 files only. There are no dates provided and it is searchable by name on Archway. For access contact:
Manager Records Services
Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
PO Box 3705
There is an index to these files and it is open access. [ACGV 8833 L21 Box 1]
In Wellington we hold many outwards ship passenger lists up to 1973 in the Social Security Department records [ADBO 16135], but the sequences are far from complete until after 1910.
The records for minor ports hold some emigration records for 1886 and then from 1895. Wellington emigration records date from 1899 and Auckland records from 1908.
The passenger lists are grouped in three or six month periods by port: Auckland, or Wellington, or the minor ports which were Lyttelton and Bluff. Ships often called at more than one port and emigration from Dunedin was usually included with Wellington and Auckland entries.
The passenger lists are unindexed. If a ship name and date for leaving New Zealand are known, finding an emigration record is relatively straightforward. If no specific ship name or date are known, it is necessary to search the passenger lists which can only be done at our Wellington archive. It takes about an hour to search six months of lists for one name. [Search Series 16135 using keyword “Outward”].
South Africa 1901-1902
A special record exists for non-military New Zealanders travelling to South Africa from mid-1901 to 1902 because the South African government required entry permits. Applications for and copies of the permits survive among the inward correspondence of the Colonial Secretary, later the Internal Affairs Department.
People applying for entry permits to South Africa can be traced through the General Index to Registers of Inwards Correspondence 1901-1903 [ACGO 8335 IA3 123 / 3/25] and the Register of Inwards Correspondence - 25 April 1901 - 13 March 1902 which gives individual names [ACGO 8335 IA3 58 / 1/58 1901/1261-1902/765]. The register entries give specific file references for correspondence and are not the correspondence itself.
Other possible sources of immigration information
First appearance in Electoral Rolls, directories, land records, can give a clue to arrival date.
Obituaries may suggest how long people have been in New Zealand. Often inaccurate.
Death registrations of immigrant family members who died after 1875 often include information about how long they had been in New Zealand.
Notices of Intention to Marry, in Registers at our Wellington archive [ADAQ 8937], may record length of residence in the registrar district. This is sometimes a clue to arrival. [Search Series 8937, and limit to the year of marriage].
Birth and marriage records (Central Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Wellington).
Newspaper listings of passenger arrivals, which may include migrants from Australia. Use ‘Papers Past’ online which is searchable.
Cyclopedia of New Zealand (6 volumes 1897-1906). Indexed entries for individuals often give immigration details.
Alexander Turnbull/National Library records (Wellington).
Museums and libraries throughout New Zealand, for local and regional immigration information.
Emigration records in Britain.
New Zealand Society of Genealogists and local branches.
Many books have been published about various early settlements in New Zealand and these often include shipping and immigrant information.
The Internet. Use a search engine and enter ‘Immigration New Zealand’ and then refine the search. Many passenger lists are now online.
Last updated on 09 June 2021