British & Irish immigration, 1840-1914

Page 4 – English immigrants

English immigrants by region

Map of England showing areas listed in table London South-east South-west Lancashire
UK Census 1871 15.5% 10.6% 8.3% 12.4%
1840–52 14.9% 21.1% 23% 5.3%
New Zealand Company 1839–50 25.9% 20.8% 26.4% 3.4%
Auckland 1840–52 20.1% 17.2% 21.8%  
1853–70 17.3% 12.7% 16.2% 8.6%
Miners – Otago 1853–70 7.8% 8.5% 36.8% 9.4%
1871–80 15.8% 15.1% 18.7% 4.7%
1881–1914 18.8% 12.9% 12.2% 11.6%

The table and graph suggest:

  • London was an important birth-place for immigrants to New Zealand, but no more than its representation in England as a whole.
  • The 'home counties' of the South-east sent a large number of people to New Zealand, especially in the 1840s. Kent appears to have been a strongly 'New Zealand-prone' county.
  • The counties of the South-west, especially Cornwall, were strongly over-represented among the immigrants. There was a spectacular inflow of people from this area among the miners reflecting the strong tradition of tin-mining in Cornwall and the decline of that industry from the 1840s. But the numbers from the South-west were consistently high until 1880 with over twice as many likely to migrate to New Zealand as their proportion of the population in England.
  • The more industrial areas of the North-west, including Lancashire, were not well represented among immigrants to New Zealand until the end of the 19th century.
  • If we add the Cornish immigrants to those from Ireland and Scotland, it is evident that the Celtic fringe of Great Britain in fact comprised a majority of New Zealand's founding British immigrants.
How to cite this page

'English immigrants', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-May-2023