Passenger lists

This guide was last updated in 2009

These records witness the arrival of settlers in New Zealand. However, there is no national index to this material and the chances of finding the required details depend upon when the migrants arrived.

For those people who left the UK after 1890, the best place to begin would be with the www.ancestorsonboard.com website. This site includes details of migrants leaving the UK for a variety of countries including New Zealand. Currently, the index extends to 1939, but eventually the project will cover up to 1960. The details provided include port of arrival in New Zealand, age of the person and year of travel.

Archives New Zealand (www.archives.govt.nz) holds passenger lists for the period from 1840 to 1973. However, the pre-1880s material relates to assisted passengers only. These were people who had all or part of their fare paid for them by organisations such as the New Zealand Company or the Otago Association, as an encouragement to migrate. There is a card index to this material at the archives that will allow you to identify the person you’re looking for.

From the 1880s onwards, the Social Security Department retained information from passenger lists for later pension claims. This covers both assisted and unassisted migrants. There is an index of arrivals for both groups for the period 1883 to 1915, arranged by surname. Later records are not indexed in this way, but material on www.ancestorsonboard.com may help your search for ancestors arriving in New Zealand.

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