The “Asianisation” of New Zealand: recent immigrant policies

1. '''''General Facts about New Zealand

· Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II (1952)

· Governor-General: Te Kāwana Tianara o Aotearoa (2011)

· Prime Minister: John Key (2008)

· Land area: 103,734 sq mi (268,671 sq km); total area: 103,737 sq mi (268,680 sq km)

· Population (2010 est.): 4,252,277

· Capital: Wellington

· Largest cities: Auckland; Christchurch

· Monetary unit: New Zealand dollar

2. '''''History of New Zealand

Maori were the first to arrive here, journeying in canoes from Hawaiki about 1,000 years ago where they set up a thriving tribal society that thrived for hundreds of years. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was the British who were the backbone of colonisation.

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. It established British law in New Zealand, while at the same time guaranteeing Maori authority over their land and culture. The Treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document. The grounds and the building where the treaty was signed have been preserved and, today, the Waitangi Historic Reserve is a popular tourist attraction. The original Treaty itself can be seen at the New Zealand Archives in Wellington.

New Zealand has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting both the Maori and European heritage. Amazing Maori historic sites and taonga (treasures) are a contrast to many beautiful colonial buildings. A walk around any New Zealand city today shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country New Zealand has become.

3. '''''History of immigration to New Zealand

For over 150 years after 1800, most people who migrated to New Zealand were from Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Ireland. Yet for them, New Zealand was the most distant place on earth. The journey by sea took 100 days, and voyagers endured rough seas, cramped conditions and illness. Unless they were offered free travel or other rewards, many people were reluctant to emigrate.

Via Australia

Some came because they had already reached Australia as convicts or settlers. Those who went the extra distance across the Tasman Sea included:

· whalers and sealers, New Zealand’s earliest non-Māori settlers

· gold miners, who often came from the goldfields of Victoria to Otago and the West Coast in the 1860s

· labourers, who arrived in the early 20th century, when New Zealand was prospering and Australia was in depression.

Assisted migrants

Others came because they received assisted or free travel on ships from Britain and Ireland. These included:

· settlers (brought out by the New Zealand Company or its off-shoots) mainly from England and Scotland in the 1840s to settle in Wellington, Nelson, Wanganui, Taranaki, Canterbury and Otago

· people given cheap tickets or offered free land by New Zealand provinces in the 1850s and 1860s

· people recruited and given cheap fares by the New Zealand government in the 1870s, early 1880s, and before and after the First World War.

Some also came as a result of war – soldiers brought out to fight in the New Zealand wars of the 1860s, or war brides who came with New Zealand soldiers who had fought overseas.


Until the Second World War most came from Britain. Some other groups were:

· A few French people at Akaroa in 1840

· Germans, who came to Nelson in the 1840s

· Scandinavians, who settled in Manawatū and Hawke’s Bay in the 1870s

· Chinese, attracted by the gold rushes

· Dalmatians, working the northern gumfields.

After the Second World War

In the 1950s and 1960s more people were helped to migrate. They included many Dutch and a larger number of English and Scots.

From the mid-1960s on, people began to come to New Zealand from Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands and other Pacific islands, attracted by work opportunities.

In 1975 and again in 1987, New Zealand changed its immigration policies to admit people on the basis of their qualifications and not their race. Since then there has been a large flow of immigrants from Asia, and some from Africa.

New Zealand has become much more multicultural. In 2006 about 67 out of 100 New Zealanders had an exclusively European background. The others had Māori, Pacific Island or Asian ancestors.

4. '''''Asians living in New Zealand today

The prime reason for most of the recent Chinese immigrants coming to and staying in New Zealand is likely to be their youngest children’s education and welfare. Jan Morris noted that in colonial days it was almost universal for British migrants to become disillusioned at some stage in their new environment, but they tended to stay on for their children’s sake. There is some academic and anecdotal evidence that this reason for staying also applies among the Chinese newcomers in New Zealand.(126) If so, their young children are unconsciously playing a crucial role in their families’ settlement, just as the writer’s generation did in the settlement of the Kiwi Chinese. Moreover, they will go through all the adaptive processes that we went through. During that time, they will see New Zealanders as the friendly, fair and tolerant persons as we saw them. And they too will become proud Chinese New Zealanders, confident in their New Zealand and Chinese cultural mix,(127) able to flourish here as in few other countries, and of good worth to New Zealand. Their non-Chinese peers and friends will grow up and regard a multicultural New Zealand society as the norm. When this full integration of the Chinese immigrants of 1986-96 occurs, New Zealanders may well look back and wonder at the fears and uncertainties expressed against their coming.

5. '''''Recent immigration policies

Sources: ethnic group