Kōrero: Creative and intellectual expatriates

Whārangi 4. Expatriation to other countries

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Although the attraction of Britain was strong, New Zealanders went to many other countries, Australia and the United States in particular.


Australia could be a destination or a stepping stone to some other country. In the 19th century New Zealand and Australia were economically, politically and culturally close – they were often referred to jointly as Australasia. Melbourne and Sydney, like London, offered metropolitan scope for people such as writer Arthur Henry Adams and composer Alfred Hill.

International expatriate

Although in the past some expatriates moved from country to country, jet travel made this easier, and in fact allowed people to pursue a career in a number of countries. Operatic tenor Simon O’Neill is one: he is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, the Bayreuth Festival in Germany and the Salzburg Festival in Austria.

Trans-Tasman links persisted in the 20th century and New Zealanders made their mark in Australia in writing (novelist Ruth Park), entertainment (comedian George Hanna, country music singer Tex Morton and pianist Terence Vaughan), radio, television and film (broadcasters Frederick Baume and Myles Wright, and film-maker Cecil Holmes), and art (painter Roland Wakelin and mixed-media artist Rosalie Gascoigne). More recent creative expatriates include satirist John Clarke and film-maker Jane Campion.

Australia provided more options for arts training and employment. For example, dancers were drawn to institutions such as the Australian Dance Theatre in South Australia. Many academics were lured to Australia by better pay and conditions. There were also specialist research facilities – in 1965 eye surgeon Fred Hollows became associate professor of ophthalmology at Sydney’s University of New South Wales, which became a vision research centre, attracting other New Zealanders.

United States

From the earliest days of Pākehā settlement American culture and ideas were highly influential in New Zealand.

Before the end of the Second World War America attracted a few New Zealanders keen to work in innovative creative industries, including movie actress and radio broadcaster Nola Luxford, kinetic artist Len Lye and industrial designer Jo Sinel. Academic opportunities also tempted some: William Pickering, later famous for his rocket science work at NASA, was persuaded by an uncle to study at the California Institute of Technology in 1929, and economist J. B. Condliffe chose to become a professor at the University of California in 1939.

Unknown expatriate

An expatriate who virtually unknown in New Zealand but a household name in France was singer-songwriter Graeme Allwright. Signed by Sonogram Records in the 1960s, he translated into French and performed many of the songs of Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Leonard Cohen. Allwright’s voice was a backdrop to the 1968 student protests in Paris.

From 1948 the Fulbright scholarship scheme enabled more New Zealanders to study in the US. One Fulbright scholar who moved there permanently and went on to achieve world renown in chemistry was Alan MacDiarmid; another was eminent educational psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith. Other New Zealanders relocated to take advantage of superior research facilities and funding: for example, cosmologist Beatrice Tinsley, evolutionary biologist Allan Wilson and sexologist John Money.

Creative opportunities in art, music, dance, industrial and fashion design and film continue to attract New Zealanders to the US, with film-makers such as Lee Tamahori and Roger Donaldson, and actors Anna Paquin, Melanie Lynskey, Russell Crowe, Martin Henderson and others pursuing careers there.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Creative and intellectual expatriates - Expatriation to other countries', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/creative-and-intellectual-expatriates/page-4 (accessed 22 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Nancy Swarbrick, i tāngia i te 22 Oct 2014