New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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New Zealand

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New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists,1839-1973 .
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 will include records from 1839 to 1973.

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.

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.

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.

Collection Contents

Sample Images

Passenger lists may contain the following information:

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

How Do I Search the Collection?

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

To 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.

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

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

What Do I Do Next?

  • Use the estimated age to calculate an approximated birth year.
  • 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.
  • Use the family structure as found in these records to identify the family in other records that preserve family structure such as censuses.
  • Sometimes individuals or families migrated with neighbors, distant relatives, or other associates. Note who your ancestor was traveling with as it may reveal where they came from or where they went.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names, nicknames, or aliases.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Continue to search the index and records to identify children, siblings, parents and other relatives who may have been traveling at the same time.
  • Settlers often resided in an area close to the port city where they landed in New Zealand.
  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth year. To calculate a birth year, use the arrival year and subtract the age on the record to bring up an approximate birth year.
  • If your ancestor was married, and the image lists the name of the spouse, search for a marriage record for the couple.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

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. Also, 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. See the Related Wiki Articles section of this article for more collections that may be helpful in your research.

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.

How You Can Contribute

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.

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 2016. Citing New Zealand Company. National Archives, Wellington.

Record Citation

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1839-1973.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking 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.