New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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New Zealand

Access the Records
New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973  and New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1871-1915.
This article describes a collection of records at
New Zealand
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Record Description
Record Type Immigration Passenger Lists
Collection years 1839-1973
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archives - New Zealand

What is in the Collection?

This collection contains immigrant registers from New Zealand, covering the period 1839 to 1973.

Upon leaving a home country for New Zealand, all passengers in a ship were listed in a register book, and were then checked against that register upon entry into their port of destination. As a form of identification was required to embark on the ship, these immigration records are generally accurate. However, since they were normally handwritten by an officer, slight errors are not uncommon. The records are written or printed on prepared forms, tabular format, in bound volumes. Most registers are legible; however, some are faded or have some bleed-through, and so are a bit difficult to read.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973.

Collection Content

This collection contains primarily New Zealand immigration passenger lists, although crew lists make up a significant portion as well. Approximately ten percent of the collection is a mixture of other travel-related documents, including goods manifests.

Sample Images

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in passenger lists, but it must be remembered that every record may not provide all of the listed information. The amount of information found in the registers depends on the type of passenger list; assisted immigration registers are the most common and tend to have the most information.

Passenger lists may contain:

  • Full name of each passenger
  • Adult or child
  • Male or female
  • Country of emigration
  • Port of Entry and date of arrival
  • Estimated age
  • Occupation
  • Total cost of passage and how paid
  • Name of ship and port of embarkation

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "Arrival port or destination" category
⇒Select the "Arrival Year" category
⇒Select the “Ship's name" category which takes you to the images

Compare the information found on the images with what is already known determine if a particular record relates to the correct person. This process may require examining multiple records before the correct person is located.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • Remember that the family structure reported in these passenger lists are a snapshot of the family at one moment in their lives. Other relations may have not traveled with the family, died previously, or were born afterwards.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Remember that individuals might not be listed with their immediate families, as they often migrated with neighbors, distant relatives, or other associates.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil or religious records.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name in a church record. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for some common examples of abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could possibly have traveled under their maiden name.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches.
  • It is estimated that the majority of the British immigrants after arrival settled in provinces near their port of entry. Thus, a wider search in the provinces of Auckland, Canterbury, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Nelson, Taranaki, Wellington, or Westland may prove fruitful, depending on which port the individual landed in.

General Notes about the Collection

Many people immigrated to New Zealand to form colonies and settle for a better life. From the 1840s until the 1970s, Britain was the main source for immigrants, and 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, Polynesia, and Asia. Prior to 1900 there were various classes of immigrants, with the largest groups being the assisted immigrants and paying passengers.

New Zealand became multicultural due to the number of immigrations coming from other countries. Beginning in 1871 the New Zealand Government began to offer assisted passages to selected immigrants and others nominated by relatives. The migration of the 1870s was the most significant in New Zealand history.

In 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 1891 New Zealand received the last small group of assisted migrants. However, assisted migration was restored in 1904 when the country's economy 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.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation

" New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1839-1973." Database with Images. FamilySearch. accessed 2017. Citing Archives New Zealand, Wellington.

Record Citation

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1839-1973.

Image Citation

When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists,1839-1973.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.