When did your ancestors arrive in Auckland?

Ask yourself three questions to help identify the arrival of an ancestor. If you’re not sure of the answers, try making an educated guess.

The questions are:

  • Where did they come from?
  • Where did they arrive?
  • When did they arrive?


Where did they come from?

Until the end of the 1840s Auckland arrivals were mainly from New South Wales and Tasmania, and then primarily from Great Britain. Mail steamers did bring some from North America from the 1860s, and large numbers came from Victoria, in the 1850s and 1860s.

Two excellent books on the immigrant experience are The farthest promised land by Rollo Arnold and Over the mountains of the sea by David Hastings.

Where did they arrive?

The main Auckland region ports were:

  • Auckland (Waitemata Harbour)
  • Onehunga (Manukau Harbour - mainly coastal)
  • Bay of Islands (mainly pre-1845)
  • Hokianga (mainly pre-1840)

We have some information for other parts of New Zealand, but according to the port of entry you may need to contact the Petone Settlers Museum, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Puke Ariki (New Plymouth), Canterbury Museum, or Archives New Zealand.

When did they arrive?

Calculate this from:

  • family stories
  • death registrations after 1875. These include details of how long the person was in New Zealand. Refer to finding family history records.
  • obituaries
  • marriage date or birth date of first child in New Zealand, and/or last child born before emigration
  • Intention to marry registers at Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
  • first appearance in directories and electoral rolls. See our family history page about voting rights.
  • naturalisation records, if they were not British any other evidence of residence in New Zealand.

Did they arrive before 1838?

If your ancestors arrived in New Zealand before 1838, the following books and microforms are excellent sources of information:

Did they arrive after 1838?

If your ancestors arrived in New Zealand after 1838, try the following resources:

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