Story: Other Western Europeans

Page 3. Belgium, Malta and Gibraltar

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Belgians have shown less inclination than other European nationalities to emigrate. They were eligible for assistance to come to New Zealand between 1970 and 1975, but still did not arrive in large numbers. Those who settled mostly blended into New Zealand society – partly because there were small numbers – and no communities became established. The most conspicuous sign of a Belgian presence in New Zealand is the beer cafés in some cities.

A more digestible name

A wave of anti-German hysteria swept through New Zealand during the First World War. New Zealanders stopped describing a pre-cooked meat, usually sliced thinly for sandwiches, as ‘German sausage’. They renamed it Belgian sausage, and the new name stuck.

Belgians were involved in the Australasian wool industry from the 1850s, and in the second half of the 20th century Belgian wool buyers were among those who settled. Belgians continued to arrive in the later 20th century at a steady rate, their number reaching 882 by 2013.

Malta and Gibraltar

British imperial policy was to relocate people from overcrowded Gibraltar and Malta to other British colonies. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were almost equal numbers of Maltese and Gibraltan people in New Zealand, although the populations were always small.

A link with Malta

In 2004 Malta joined several other countries in a reciprocal working holiday scheme with New Zealand. Working visas are issued to up to 50 young citizens (aged 18–30) of each country to allow them to travel and work in the other country for up to 12 months. Although it is not for permanent migrants, the scheme does strengthen ties between New Zealand and its migrant communities.

It is believed that the first Maltese to arrive was a boatman, Angelo Parigi, around 1848. A later arrival, Charles Mallia, founded an institute for seamen in Wellington, and was made an MBE in 1953. Fewer than 100 Maltese people were living in New Zealand in any one year until the 1950s. By 1975 there were more than 400; in 2013 the number had fallen to 390, but enough Maltese settled in Wellington to sustain a Maltese Association.

Unlike the Maltese, the numbers of Gibraltans did not increase significantly in the late 20th century. There were only 78 resident in New Zealand in 2013.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'Other Western Europeans - Belgium, Malta and Gibraltar', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 July 2024)

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