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Assisted immigration, 1947-75

Page 4 – The voyage out

Half-way around the world by ship

The Captain Cook, along with the Captain Hobson, brought assisted immigrants to New Zealand via the Panama Canal from 1952. The Cook had 1070 berths and was furnished in a solid but attractive style. Its first trip to New Zealand was not uneventful: workmen were still carrying out conversion work, a failure in the engine room necessitated a layover in Aruba in the Caribbean, and the ship ran out of fresh water a few days out of Wellington. In 1960 the Captain Cook was withdrawn from service and broken up.

Activities on board ship were organised both by the Liaison Officer employed by the Department of Labour and by the passengers themselves. The first Liaison Officer to be appointed was Jim Hay. His role was to give talks and lectures and answer the numerous enquiries made by immigrants who were encouraged to attend his lectures-most were eager to do so. Hay was helped by his wife, who worked as the ship's matron.

Dances and talent quests, debates and deck games also took place, along with sing alongs such as the one described in her diary by Jenny Amos aboard the Captain Cook in 1953:

there is a chap with an accordion & the place is packed, you never heard a sing song like it. ...Every night now they have a singing session on deck till about 11:30 or 12, last night it was a chap with a ukelele.

One immigrant recalls arriving in 1955:

Arrival in Wellington around noon on a gloriously sunny day was marvellous as a finale to the voyage-disembarking at Glasgow Wharf the next morning in a typical Wellington southerly was a rude awakening!

Most assisted immigrants travelled by ship and docked at Wellington, but in later years many arrived by plane at Auckland's Whenuapai Airport. The first draft of 118 immigrants arrived in Auckland on 23 August 1947 aboard the Rangitata. They were met with a certain amount of ceremony by the mayor, John Allum, and the president of the Auckland Returned Services' Association. A sound truck was stationed on the wharf and played 'specially selected' music that would provide a 'suitable atmosphere for disembarkation.' In his speech of welcome, Allum acknowledged the 'many little differences' between New Zealand and Britain, and 'asked the newcomers to be patient and take time to know New Zealand ways'.

How to cite this page

The voyage out, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated