New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1973 .
These lists cover the period from 1855 to 1915.
The records are written on printed forms in tabular format in bound volumes. Most registers are legible; however some are faded or bleed through, and therefore are a bit difficult to read.
The passenger lists include immigrants arriving mostly from the British Isles, and also from Western Europe, Asia, and the Polynesia. Many people immigrated to New Zealand to form colonies and settle for a better life. From 1840 until the 1970s, Britain was the main source for immigrants; all ships carrying passengers in or out of any British port were required by law to present their passenger lists to the relevant port authorities. Other immigrants came from Western Europe, some from Polynesia, and Asia. Prior to 1900 there were various classes of immigrants; the largest groups were the assisted immigrants and paying passengers.
Because of the multi-cultural nature of the immigrants, New Zealand became a multi-cultural community from the outset. Beginning in 1871 the New Zealand Government began to offer assisted passages to selected immigrants and those people nominated by relatives. The migration of the 1870s was the most significant in New Zealand history.
In the year 1874 thousands of assisted immigrants arrived in New Zealand, forming the greatest level of migration ever. Almost half of the new immigrants came with government assistance. Three-quarters of these sailed directly from the United Kingdom. Because of economic difficulties in the later 19th century, assistance was finally terminated.
In the year 1891 New Zealand received the last small group of assisted migrants. However, assisted migration was restored in 1904 when the economy of the country returned to prosperity, making it once more an attractive country to new immigrants. During the early 20th century one-third of the immigrants came from Australia, and two-thirds from the United Kingdom.
At the port of embarkation, all passengers were listed in a book. At the port of destination this registry was verified and kept by the authorities of the destination country. These registers were later used for immigration and population statistics.
A form of identification was required to embark on the ship, so the records should be accurate. However, since they were generally handwritten by an officer, there may be some errors.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Citations for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Ships involved in New Zealand immigration. New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1915. Archives New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.
Digital images of originals housed at various municipal archives throughout New Zealand.
Key genealogical facts found in most of the immigration passenger lists:
- Passenger name and surname
- Country of origin
- Children names, if a family is traveling together
- Port of destination
- Name of ship
- Port of embarkation
- Port of destination
- Date of departure
- Date of arrival
How to Use the Records
If unable to find your immigrant ancestors in the vital records of New Zealand, you may find them in the passenger lists. The amount of information found in the registers depends on the type of immigrant—the assisted immigration registers are the most common and tend to have more information. Many eighteenth and nineteenth century immigration sources have been published. Indexes to passenger lists have also been published. It is estimated that the majority of the British immigrants after arrival settled in the provinces of Auckland, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Westland.
The majority of Scottish immigrants settled in the provinces of Otago and Southland. An average of 22% of Irish settled in each province but mostly in Westland. Less than 2% of the population per province was Welsh. Most of the English immigrants between 1870 and the late 1880s came from the southern Midlands of England or from Cornwall and Devon. The Scots came mostly from the Lowlands and some from the Shetland Islands. The Irish were typically from the south-west or Ulster.
In order to find ancestors in the passenger lists, you need to know an approximate date and port of arrival.
Search this collection by image:
To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒Select the “Arrival port or destination” ⇒Select the “Arrival date - year” ⇒Select the “Ship's name” which will take you to the images.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Search this collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Related Web Sites
The links to these documents are located in the Archway Public Archives New Zealand on-line finding aid:
- http://archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewEntity.do? code=ACFQS
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists 1855-1973." index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FSY8-6P8: accessed14 June 2012), Edd S Phillips, carpenter, ship Adamant, departure date: 14 July 1875; citing Wellington, Passenger Lists, digital folder 4,412,767 image 0009; Archway Public Archives, Wellington, New Zealand.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
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