Story: Other Western Europeans

Page 2. Spain and Portugal

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Among the small number of Spaniards who came in the 19th century was Manuel José, who married into Ngāti Porou. His descendants, known as the Pāniora (Spanish) of Ngāti Porou, number in the thousands.

The number of Spanish-born living in New Zealand did not rise above 100 until the 1960s. The number peaked at 222 in 1976, fell back to below 200, then rose to 933 in 2013. In the 1991 census, 543 people living in New Zealand identified themselves as Spanish, but some of these were probably Latin Americans. In the late 20th century, Spaniards and Latin Americans joined forces for cultural activities and to promote the teaching of Spanish in New Zealand.

Spanish place names

When the explorer Alessandro Malaspina, in command of a Spanish expedition, visited Doubtful Sound in 1793 he stayed only a week or so, but left behind a unique cluster of Spanish place names. They include Febrero Point (from the month of his visit – February), Bauza Island (after his cartographer) and Marcaciones Point (Observation Point). A plaque on Marcaciones Point marks the landing place of the Spaniards.


In the 19th and early 20th centuries there were more Portuguese than Spaniards in New Zealand. This was probably a reflection in part of the close commercial links between Portugal and England. A number of Portuguese in 19th-century New Zealand were born in the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands or Madeira, and arrived as crew on American whaling ships. One Ngāti Kahungunu family has a Portuguese whaler in its whakapapa. The number of people born in Portugal declined from around 200 in the 1890s to about 30 in 1966, then increased to 264 in 2013.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'Other Western Europeans - Spain and Portugal', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 June 2024)

Story by John Wilson, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 25 Mar 2015