Saturday settlers: Settling New Zealand

With the tens of thousands of refugees seeking safety in countries other than their own, we might reflect on the European settlers of NZ in the 1800s and their (comparatively) less traumatic but often torrid, journeys to this land of hope.

There are a number of books written on the subject. Some describe the voyage over of these immigrants and the lives they'd led in their lands of birth but also how they settled into this new country.

No Simple Passage : The journey of the London to New Zealand, 1849 – a ship of hope  describes the London’s journey to New Zealand in 1849. The author has created a diary of the trip her ancestor, Rebecca Remington, and fellow migrants made using, among other sources, the journals of the ship’s captain and that of a cabin passenger. She describes the England they escaped, the perils of the trip and follows the lives of the families on-board when they are in New Zealand.

The immigrants : The great migration from Britain to New Zealand, 1830-1890, is a scholarly read, describing the journeys of more than four million people who left the British Isles for New Zealand.  Tony Simpson looks at the reasons people left Britain, why they chose New Zealand, the schemes and incentives encouraging them to come here, their expectations, and how they found it when they arrived. Charlotte Godley wrote to a friend from Riccarton in 1852:

‘I am a little afraid of being alone. There are a number of somewhat disreputable people among our neighbours in the bush, some thirty or forty men, I should think, living [in] it for the present, to cut timber, and whose songs and jollifications at their evening tea parties, we can hear till late at night.’

On another level, but giving a compelling picture all the same, Mrs Shirley Kendall transcribed the Medical and Surgical Journal of the freight ship “Sir Robert Sale” 10th of June to 22nd of November 1847 by John James Lancaster, Surgeon Superintendent, M.D. from the original document held at the Public Record Office, Kew.

Divided into different sections we have Dr Lancaster’s Daily Sick List:

with another section on particular case studies

and a nice extra;  brief family histories of those London immigrants.

The above resources are just tasters of what we have in our collections at Auckland Libraries. They tell the stories of these hardy travellers who sought refuge for whatever reason in an unknown country, millions of miles from their own.


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