Story: Scots

Page 7. Immigration after 1945

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The end of assisted immigration

There was a fresh wave of immigrants from Scotland after 1945. But the end of assisted immigration in 1975 curbed the flow. By the time the last major influx of migrants stopped in 1976, Otago and Southland were no longer predominantly Scottish centres. The Scottish population was fairly evenly distributed around New Zealand. However, Scottish traditions remained strong in the south.

Words of Scottish origin

The dialect spoken by the Lowland Scots of south and east Scotland is called Lallans, and is entirely different from the Gaelic spoken in the Highlands. There is also a dialect in north-east Scotland called Doric. The Lallans dialect has left its mark on the English spoken in New Zealand. ‘Wee’, meaning ‘little’, is the most common word of Scottish origin still heard. The popularity of ‘-ie’ or ‘-y’ as a suffix, as in ‘wharfie’ (waterside worker), ‘footie’ (the game of rugby football) and ‘shrewdie’ (a shrewd person), is also a legacy from colloquial Scots.

A variety of occupations

Until 1975 the country’s attraction as a land of economic opportunity motivated Scots to journey to the far side of the globe. One woman who arrived at the age of 15 with her family after the Second World War reflected later that if she had stayed in Scotland, she would have had little respite from post-industrial working-class hardships. Despite being wrenched away from friends and familiar places as a teenager, she believed she had gained a better life.

Almost half of Scottish people living in New Zealand in 2013 had professional or managerial occupations. Around one-third worked in trade and manual occupations.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'Scots - Immigration after 1945', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/scots/page-7 (accessed 20 October 2017)

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