Blog

Early Chinese settlers in New Zealand

by Benjamin Lau | | 0 comments

Continuing my research on early Chinese Immigrants and spurred by my recent visit to New Zealand, I learned that the earliest Chinese immigrants arrived in New Zealand around 1842.

“Batches” of Chinese workers were recruited to work in Gold mines in the Otago area after the European workers left the fields.  Chinese workers were thought to be hard-working, in-offensive and willing to re-work the abandoned mines and most importantly preferred to return to their homeland after their work had been complete.  

Unfortunately, during this period the sex ratio was extremely unbalanced as men travelled alone for work and left wives behind to look after families in China.  In 1881 it was recorded that there was only 9 women to 4995 Chinese men.  The plight of the Chinese miners was dire.  Few struck it rich, and were bound to an impoverished life, with no families in a strange land.

Following depletion of the goldfields in the 1880s, the men spread to other towns and cities finding a niche in market gardening.  The majority of the Chinese population was male up until the 1940s when slightly more liberal immigration policies were adopted to allow women to join their husbands.  Some men married European and Maori women before this period.

One can only imagine the hardship these early Chinese immigrants had to endure to seek a better life outside their motherland.

Photo credit: http://www.teara.govt.nz

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published