Assisted immigration resumes after war

23 August 1947

Advertisement for the NZ Shipping Company
Advertisement for the NZ Shipping Company (Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-G-SHIP-1940-01)

The first draft of 118 British immigrants arrived in Auckland on the New Zealand Shipping Company liner Rangitata. They were among 77,000 men, women and children who arrived from Great Britain under the assisted immigration scheme between 1947 and 1975.

Among the dignitaries waiting to greet them was Auckland’s mayor, John Allum. In his speech of welcome, he acknowledged the differences between New Zealand and Britain and ‘asked the newcomers to be patient and take time to know New Zealand ways’.

The immigration assistance scheme, introduced in July 1947, was designed to bring skilled workers into New Zealand. Unlike earlier schemes, the focus was on attracting single people with practical skills. There was an initial preference for 20 to 35-year-olds, but the upper age limit was raised to 45 in 1950.

While assistance went primarily to white British citizens, the country also sought other Europeans who could easily assimilate into post-war New Zealand. The most favoured were the Dutch – over 6000 arrived in the 1950s as part of an assisted passage scheme from the Netherlands.