Story: Germans

Page 4. 1870s: recruited settlers

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Assisted immigration

During the 1870s, Premier Julius Vogel’s assisted immigration and public works scheme recruited workers from northern Europe as well as Great Britain. This resulted in new German settlements in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury, Westland, Otago and Southland.

A number of German families who came to Hawke’s Bay settled in Norsewood. In the Wellington region, the towns of Halcombe, Rongotea and Carterton had a large concentration of German immigrants. A further group, predominantly from West Prussia, were given work in Taranaki, and made their home around Inglewood. A settlement of timber workers sprang up in the 1870s near Waimate, South Canterbury, which bore the name ‘Germantown’. In 1878 Germantown had 53 residents, but after a bad forest fire that year, most settlers moved to Christchurch. Those who stayed turned to sheep farming.

Jackson Bay

In 1874 the government started preparations for a special settlement in Jackson Bay, South Westland, which was supposed to open up thick bush-covered land for farming. Forest workers were recruited from Pomerania in northern Germany, as they were said to be used to this sort of territory. They settled mainly in the Smoothwater River valley, south of Jackson Bay, where they felled trees and cleared land for farming. But the land was too damp and the climate too wet to justify continuing with the scheme. When the money for the project ran out in 1878, most Germans moved to Otago.


German immigrants working on railway construction established two settlements south of Dunedin, at Allanton and Waihola. They had arrived in Dunedin in 1872 on the Palmerston. As the construction work moved further south, many shifted with it to Southland. In 1875 some of them founded a ‘Germantown’ in the area of McNab–Whiterigg, north-east of Gore. This settlement no longer exists, but some descendants still farm in the area.

How to cite this page:

James N. Bade, 'Germans - 1870s: recruited settlers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

Story by James N. Bade, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2015