Stories from the community
The women and children were separated from the men in different holds down in the depths of the ship. Everyone slept in bunks three high and 250 people in each hold. There were no facilities for babies and toddlers at all and every mother had to do her best to make sure her children did not fall out of their beds or even into the sea. – Louise Hansen-Leemans, of her journey in 1950.
The advent of steamships and the newly created Panama Canal reduced travel time and improved the quality of life on board. And, after the Second World War, air travel evolved as an even quicker means of transport. Nonetheless, making the journey during this period could still be gruelling.
We asked people around the country to send us stories in their own words of the journey they or their relatives made, to begin a new life in New Zealand. Here is a selection.
What's your story?
In 1906 Adeline Taylor was a young girl when her family emigrated to New Zealand, sailing to Sydney on the Everton Grange, and then to Lyttelton on the Maheno.
With her family, young Dorothy Fenton left her home of Blackpool in England in 1920. Their journey was disrupted soon after they set off.
With the civilian rail service almost non-existent in war-ravaged Italy, Anna Maria Hall had to travel the length of the country to meet her husband, a New Zealand serviceman, and board the Tamaroa bound for Wellington.
Three generations of Chris Thorogood’s family resolved to emigrate in 1948. Making their way by sea, train and air, they twice nearly came to grief on the 26-day journey.
After the Second World War, the Hansen family emigrated from Holland, where there was a housing shortage. Travelling with 1,600 passengers on an old ship, they faced many difficulties.
While most travelled to New Zealand by ship in the 1950s, Dirk and Jan Rinckes chose to fly from the Netherlands. Air travel saved time, but things did not always go to plan.
The steamship Captain Cook was a prime means for emigrants to travel to New Zealand in the 1950s. Beryl Tuppen’s family sailed during May–June 1952, a year later than anticipated, due to waterfront strikes in New Zealand. From the viewpoint of a young girl, Beryl records a series of vivid impressions.
Gillian O’Rourke was only half-serious when she said she would emigrate to New Zealand, but within nine months she was boarding the T.S.S. Captain Cook. This adventure was effectively a ‘blind date’– address and employment were presented to her in a sealed manila envelope on arrival in Wellington.