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Volume 77, 1948-49
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The European Alien Groups Resident in New Zealand


The main statistical sources are the yearbooks. Unpublished figures of alien registrations during the war period have also been used.


The historical background will not be discussed, but two outstanding facts should be kept in mind: (a) The revolution in the sources of immigration from North-west Europe in the last century to South-east Europe in this century, the pivotal year being about 1906; and (b) the progressive decline in the foreign-born population over the past sixty years (19,150 foreign-born persons, including about 14,000 continental Europeans, in 1891; 15,315 persons, including 10,648 Europeans, in 1936).


There are in New Zealand about 10,000 registered adult aliens, of whom some 7,000 are of continental European origin, while 11,000 persons are estimated to be of continental European birth. Following are notes on the chief groups (European refugees being described separately, and the children of Pahiatua Polish Camp being omitted):

Scandinavians. The 740 registrations, in which elderly couples with adult native-born children predominate, represent the survivors of an immigration of perhaps 8,000. Group settlements at Dannevirke and Norsewood are well known. Danes are the most numerous. Immigration slackened about 1905 and virtually ceased in 1914.

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Germans. Another group in the final stage of assimilation, about 1,000 registrations representing over 8,000 settlers, with group settlements of last century at Hokitika, Nelson, Halcombe. Immigration ceased in 1914.

Italians. About 1,000 peasants from Venezia, the Bay of Naples, Potenza, and Stromboli, who form groups in Runanga, Nelson, and the Wellington district. Beginning before 1900, immigration reached a maximum in 1925, the total being perhaps 2,500. Market gardening groups are better settled than the fishermen, restaurateurs and miners.

Yugoslavs. A. total immigration of perhaps 10,000 from the district of Split in central Dalmatia. Present registrations 1,200, to which should be added 4,000 naturalized and native-born. Older settlers, many of them formerly gumdiggers, have farms between Awanui and the Hauraki Plains; newer arrivals are labourers and restaurateurs. Immigration began before 1890 and ran strongly between the wars. The Tito movement has raised questions of political adherence.

European Refugees. About 1,000 persons, mainly of Jewish associations. There is the assimilating West European type, possessing more or less marked German, Austrian or Hungarian national characteristics, and the non-assimilating type from East Europe, especially Poland; in our environment each type has its own problem of adaptation. Being urban people of high education, refugees represent the first alien group ever to claim leading positions in the country, and despite original unsuitability in many respects, their cultural and economic achievement is notable.

Less Numerous Groups. The 320 Swiss registrations represent a small but regular peasant immigration from eastern cantons to Taranaki. They become dairy farmers, as do also a smaller group of Swedish-speaking Finns. In the last century there was a Hungarian settlement at Tuatapere, and a Czech, settlement at Puhoi; both are now completely assimilated. Apart from a few White Russian emigrés there is only Jewish immigration from Russia and Poland. The 150 registered Greeks are peasants from Mitylene and Kephalonia who have become successful restaurateurs.


In 1884 one person in every 25 was of foreign birth; to-day the ratio is one to 106. The anti-alien feeling of recent years is to be ascribed, not to any increase of alien groups, but to the recent appearance of a small but conspicuous urban group of high capacity. Whatever be the interpretation in terms of social psychology, the situation obviously demands the regeneration of the shrunken capacity of our community for incorporating foreigners and their culture.