Kōrero: Australians

Whārangi 2. Early arrivals

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

New Zealand: Australia’s new frontier

Systematic European settlement of Australia began in 1788, half a century earlier than in New Zealand. Many of New Zealand’s earliest Europeans brought important skills and knowledge acquired in Australia.

Initially, most economic activity in New Zealand was controlled from Sydney. Sydneysiders manned early sealing and sawmilling camps and shore whaling stations, but relatively few were Australian. One of the first to settle in New Zealand was Jacky Marmon, son of an Irish convict, in 1823. Another 1820s arrival, the sealer Thomas Chaseland, had an English father and Aboriginal mother.

Named after Australians

Sealers and whalers from Australia were among New Zealand’s earliest European visitors. Some left their names on the New Zealand coast.

Chaslands Mistake is named after the legendary whaler Thomas Chaseland whose mother was an Aborigine. His ‘mistake’ was to delay slaughtering a herd of seals he came upon one evening: by morning they had disappeared.

Other early place names which commemorate Australians are Port Underwood, Lords River, Port Levy and an old name for Lyttelton Harbour, Port Cooper.


Escaped or freed convicts came to New Zealand from Australia in sufficient numbers to ‘render somewhat false the commonly held New Zealand conceit about purer origins’. 1 The Sydney Herald estimated in 1837 that there were between 200 and 300 former convicts in New Zealand. Deserting sailors and ruffians also arrived, eager to escape the law. As late as 1849, the labouring population in Lyttelton was said to include escaped prisoners and convicts.

One of the first women to settle was Charlotte Badger, an English convict who lived at the Bay of Islands between about 1806 and 1808. She reached New Zealand after convicts seized a vessel on the Tasmanian coast; she was reported to have participated in the capture. Thomas Birch, an English labourer transported to Sydney in 1819, settled in New Zealand in 1827 after being freed.


New Zealand’s first Christian mission was established by Samuel Marsden, a Sydney chaplain. But the mission settlers Marsden sent to New Zealand were recruited in England.

‘A better class of settler’

Organised settlement of New Zealand began in 1840. The New Zealand Company, driven by the colonial vision of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, wished to exclude Australian convicts and pastoral squatters alike and brought its settlers from the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless, in the 1840s and 1850s settlers for Wellington were recruited in Australia, and Otago and Canterbury gained Australian migrants as their farming industries expanded. Auckland, freer of Wakefield’s prejudices, drew more Australians than other regions did. In the early 1850s the city was ‘a mere section of the town of Sydney transplanted’. 2 But overall most arrivals from Australia had originally come from Britain. A relatively small number were Australian-born.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Keith Sinclair, ed., Tasman relations: New Zealand and Australia, 1788–1988. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1987, p. 54. › Back
  2. Keith Sinclair. A history of New Zealand. Auckland: Penguin, 1959, p. 98. › Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

John Wilson, 'Australians - Early arrivals', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/australians/page-2 (accessed 17 May 2022)

He kōrero nā John Wilson, i tāngia i te 8 Feb 2005, updated 10 Mar 2015