British & Irish immigration, 1840-1914

Page 7 – Where did immigrants move to?

British-born population living in New Zealand provinces in 1871


Map of New Zealand showing provincial boundaries in 1871
  English Scottish Irish
Auckland 54.9% 17% 27.2%
Taranaki 69.6% 9.5% 20.5%
Hawke's Bay 55.2% 20.9% 23.2%
Wellington 63.5% 20% 15.4%
Nelson 56.4% 15.9% 25.9%
Marlborough 62.1% 20.4% 16.4%
Canterbury 62.7% 16.9% 19.4%
Westland 40.1% 19.9% 37.9%
Otago 31% 51.5% 16.9%
Southland 24.4% 61.4% 13.9%
New Zealand 49.7% 27.3% 22%

*The Welsh have not been included in these figures as they made up less than 2% of the population of any province

The table and graph suggest:

  • There was strong regional variation within New Zealand as to where different groups settled.
  • In the 19th century Wellington and Canterbury provinces were dominated by the English. This in part reflects their New Zealand Company origins.
  • Auckland had a strong representation from Ireland which reflected partly the influence of the early military settlers and partly the free migration of Irish across the Tasman to Auckland.
  • Westland also had a large number of people from Ireland. Many of these were miners who had migrated across the Tasman from the Victorian gold fields to the West Coast gold rushes.
  • Otago and Southland had a majority of British immigrants who came from Scotland. Again this reflected the character of the first organised settlement.
How to cite this page

'Where did immigrants move to?', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-May-2023