New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1871-1915 .

Collection Time Period

These lists cover the period from 1871 to 1915.

Record Description

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.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in most of the immigration passenger lists:
New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists 004412808 00006.jpg
  • Passenger name and surname
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • 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.

Record History

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.

Why This Record Was Created

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.

Record Reliability

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.

Related Web Sites

The links to these docs in Archway Public Archives New Zealand on-line finding aid:

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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.

A full bibliographic record is available in the Family History Library Catalog.

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.

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.

Example of a Source Citation for a Record in This Collection

"New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists 1855-1973." index and images, FamilySearch accessed 31 March 2011. entry for Edd S Phillips age 30; citing Passenger Lists digital folder 4,412,767 image 0009; Archway Public Archives, Wellington, New Zealand.

Citation for This Collection:

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists, 1871-1915, index and images, FamilySearch  citing Archway Public Archives, Wellington. FHL microfilm, 718 rolls. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • New Zealand. Passenger Lists. Series 8235. Archives New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • New Zealand. Passenger Lists. Series 8243. Archives New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.