Story: Immigration regulation

The indignity of a thumbprint

The indignity of a thumbprint

In the early 20th century many New Zealanders believed there were hordes of Chinese eager to descend on their country. In 1908, Chinese residents who wished to leave New Zealand and then return had to provide a thumbprint in order to get a re-entry permit. The print would confirm that another Chinese was not trying to sneak into the country – reflecting the stereotype of all Chinese looking alike. The procedure remained until the 1920 tightening of restrictions against all Asian immigration.

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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: L, 24-8, Box 1

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How to cite this page:

Ann Beaglehole, 'Immigration regulation - 1881–1914: restrictions on Chinese and others', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 May 2024)

Story by Ann Beaglehole, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Aug 2015