Scots immigrants in New Zealand

A DigitalNZ Story by Zokoroa

This story traces the arrival of Scots as explorers with Captain Cook, sealers, whalers, missionaries and immigrant settlers; and shares Scottishness in NZ.

Scotland, Scots, Scottish, Scotch, immigrants, immigration, emigrants, settlers, explorers, sealers, whalers

This story traces notable moments in the arrival of Scots from the time of Captain Cook onwards - explorers, sealers, whalers, missionaries and settlers. Perhaps you have a Scottish ancestor or know of someone who does - prior to 1920 about 25 per cent of migrants to NZ were Scottish. Many aspects of Scottish culture and traditions have become part of New Zealand life.    

Uniquely Scottish in NZ:

When you think of 'Scots in New Zealand', what springs to mind - bagpipes, Highland dancing, Clan names, Scotch thistle, Scottish terriers, and singing 'Auld Lang Syne' on New Year's eve!?  What else!?

Highland dancing

Scottish societies also promoted Highland dancing.

Scottish Dancing 001

Upper Hutt City Library

Clan names

badge, regimental

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Scotch thistle

Scottish thistle

Kete New Plymouth

Scottish terrier dog originated in Aberdeen

Scottish terrier dog

Alexander Turnbull Library

For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne

Christchurch City Libraries




Captain Cook was the son of a Scottish labourer and Yorkshire mother.

Cook's Endeavour journal : the inside story

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

The Endeavour's crew included Scots (1769).

HMS Endeavour

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Botanist Joseph Banks brought along Scottish artist Sydney Parkinson.

Sydney Parkinson, botanical draughtsman

University of Otago

Parkinson's portraits were the first known visual record of the tattooing, clothing and adornment of Māori.

The head of a New Zealander by Sydney Parkinson

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

THE 'HMS DISCOVERY' (1791)  & 'Pegasus' (1809)

Captain George Vancouver's 'Discovery' arrived in Dusky Sound on 2 Nov 1791 during circumnavigation of globe, 1791-1795.

(View) Plate VI (in Volume I). A Discovery on the Rocks in Queen Charlotte's Sound

Digital Public Library of America

On board 'Discovery' was Scots naturalist Dr Archibald Menzies who collected mosses & liverworts from the Dusky Sound.


Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scots William Stewart named Stewart Island when First Officer on board the 'Pegasus' charting Port Pegasus (1809).

Stewart Island

Buller, Grey and Westland District Libraries


The establishment of a British penal colony at Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1788 led to increased contact with the British and Australians. Sydney’s merchant and commercial communities looked at trade opportunities, and sealers and whalers started operating in NZ's northern and southern waters.  

Whalers and sealers in late 18th & early 19th Century included Scots, and some ended up living in NZ.

Adventurous times in old New Zealand : first-hand accounts of the lawless days

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

In 1826, Scottish sealer & whaler Cptn William Stewart set up ship-building, flax & trading settlement at Port Pegasus.

STEWART, Captain William W.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scots Hector McDonald set up a shore-whaling station at Kapiti Island in 1832; then turned to trading in 1840.

Hector McDonald Snr

Kete Horowhenua

After arriving in NZ in 1836, Alexander Fyffe worked in whaling; then set up Waiopuka whaling station at Kaikōura, 1842.

Fyffe House, Kaikōura

Ministry for Culture and Heritage


 When Scottish whalers, traders and farmers settled in New Zealand, many married women from local iwi.  (See Te Ara) 

Whaler & trader John Love married Mere Ruru Te Hikanui from Ngāti Te Whiti; then moved to Te Awaiti, 1834.

Te Awaiti Bay, Tory Channel, with whaling station

Alexander Turnbull Library

Tini (Mary Burns) born c1846 was 3rd of 4 children of Richard Burns, a farmer at Moeraki, & Pukio Iwa of Ngāi Tuahuriri.

Tini Kerei Taiaroa, who spent much of her long life caring for her children, grandchildren and extended family

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Whaler & trader "Scotch Jock" (John Nicol) married Kahe Te Rau-o-te-Rangi (Betty) & moved to Paekākāriki in 1847.

Scotch Jock's cottage near Paraparaumu

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Grandson of whaler Hector McDonald whose first wife Te Kopi (niece of Te Rauparaha) had a son in 1848.

Hugh McDonald

Kete Horowhenua

Family in the South Island.


Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Chapter 2: Who were migrants from scotland?


Researchers into British migration to New Zealand can consult shipping lists which include passenger names  (see New Zealand Shipping Index). A Register of Scottish Immigrants to New Zealand arriving before 1 January 1921 was compiled by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists' Scottish Interest Group, which comprises information supplied by descendants. This register has been extended to include arrivals before 1 January 1951.  An article by NZ History lists the gender and nationality of migrants to NZ from 1840 - 1852: Scottish men (20.6%) and women (20.7%). Also see a doctoral thesis profile of Scots covering from 1840-1920.  

New Zealand Shipping List has been digitised

Researchers can look up passenger names; then check birth & baptismal records, marriage certificates & censuses. etc.

Shipping lists digitised

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Register of Scottish Immigrants who arrived before 1 January 1921

Compiled by NZ Society of Genealogists Scottish Interest Group from descendants' info. Also started on pre- 1 Jan 1951.

Register of New Zealand immigrants of Scottish birth arriving before 1 January 1921

Auckland Libraries

Scottish people constituted about 20% of all British migrants to NZ: 1840 - 1852

The nationality and gender of migrants shows Scottish men (20.6%) and women (20.7%).

Genealogical map

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

B. Origins of Scottish settlers

The available data suggests that most of the pre-1840 Scots-born arrivals came from the Eastern Lowlands (notably Edinburgh), followed by the Western Lowlands (both Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire), and the Highlands (notably Ross-shire) and the Far North (notably Caithness). Between 1840 and the 1970s, many thousands of Scots emigrated to New Zealand. As described by Te Ara: "They were not refugees from the Highland Clearances, but they were of modest means, typically farmers and artisans such as weavers, and later tradespeople and skilled workers. They left harsh economic times for a better life."   

Regional origin of Scots: 1842-1915

Regional origins of Scottish immigrants

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

NZ Census - Born in Scotland: 1858 - 2013

NZ Census: 1858 (7,976), 1901 (47,858), 1951 (44,089), 1976 (47,827), 2001 (28,680), 2006 (29,016), 2013 (25,953).

Percentage of Scottish-born among all non-Māori people in New Zealand counties, 1878

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

NZ Census - Ethnic identity: 2006, 2013

People were asked to indicate ethnic group/s with which they identified: Scottish: 2006 (15,039) & 2013 (14,412).


Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Chapter 3: Pre-TREATY of waitangi - "Free" MIGRANTS

 Prior to the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) there were "free" migrants (i.e. non-assisted)  from Scotland who sought opportunities in NZ.     

A. 1800 - 1830s: Scots settlers arrive in Northland 

Gilbert Mair arrived from Aberdeenshire, 1824

Gilbert Mair arrived at Bay of Islands.

Mair family papers

Auckland Libraries

Two Scots arrive at Hōreke in Hokianga Harbour, c.1826

Two Sydney-based Scots, David Ramsay & Gordon Browne, established an early European trading & shipbuilding.

Hōreke, Hokianga

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

'Rosanna' ship arrives in Hokianga, 1826

Four ‘Scotch carpenters’ stay on in Hokianga. After ship sailed onto Sydney, some Scots returned to Northland in 1827.

Rosanna settlers

Alexander Turnbull Library

Scots were early settlers in Whāngārei & Waiheke Is.

First recorded European settlers at Whāngārei and early settlers on Waiheke Island were Scots. (See Te Ara)

[Whangarei Heads]

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Scots from Caithness settled in Bay of Islands in late 1830s

Previously English missionary settlers had arrived in 1814 at Rangihoua & Samuel Marsden held their 1st Xmas service.

Engraving from the Missionary Register showing mission station at Rangihoua, Bay of Islands, 1830

Auckland Libraries

B.  1830s: British protection for settlers & Māori

The arrival of  Scots, other Europeans and American sperm-whalers from the early 1820s saw Kororāreka (later renamed Russell) become a large whaling port. The expansion in trade and settlement activities saw whalers, other seafarers, merchants and missionaries mix with adventurers, deserters and escaped convicts from Australia. The Governor of New South Wales had been monitoring the developments in NZ.  However,  with increasing concerns over the impact the changes had on local Māori, the British government appointed James Busby as British Resident in NZ in 1833.

British Govt appointed Edinburgh-born James Busby as British Resident who was based at Waitangi, 1833-1840

Role: To protect "well disposed settlers and traders", "prevent outrages" against Māori, & apprehend escaped convicts.

James Busby

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

French colony threat: Charles de Thierry purchased land in Hokianga

He had met missionary Thomas Kendall at Cambridge College in 1820 who purchased land on his behalf. in 1822.

Baron de Thierry

Auckland Libraries

Busby convinced 34 Northern Chiefs to sign 'Declaration of Independence' at Waitangi on 28 Oct 1835

Busby had received de Thierry's message (4 Sept 1835) he was on his way to NZ to establish a sovereign govt. by force.

He Whakaputanga = The declaration of independence, 1835

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

When tribal war affected settlers, Busby sent word & Captain William Hobson arrived on frigate 'Rattlesnake' (1837)

Busby, Hobson & Samuel Marsden spoke with Ngāpuhi chiefs to reconcile them, & warn against violence to British subjects.

William Hobson

Kete New Plymouth

Hobson appointed as Foreign Consul & Lieutenant Governor (1839-41)

Hobson to obtain land from Māori 'by fair and equal contracts' & resell to settlers at profit to fund future operations.

Appointment of William Hobson as Lieutenant Governor, 1839

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Busby & Hobson drafted the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) which was translated by missionary Henry Williams

The Treaty thwarted de Thierry's plans to still set up a French colony after he arrived in Hokianga on 4 Nov 1837.

Antipodean Pictorial. Preparation of the Treaty of Waitangi, Hobson and Busby

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Chapter 4: Post-Treaty - Settlement schemes

A. 1840S: Treaty of Waitangi 

Following the formalising of sovereignty with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, there were structured settlement schemes for migrants from Great Britain and Ireland.  Two types of emigrants left Scotland - as well as "free" emigrants, there were "assisted" emigrants who qualified to receive land grants as part of a settlement scheme.  Most immigrants received assistance from either the New Zealand Company, which had been set up by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, or from a government or church association formed to encourage immigration.  

With Treaty of Waitangi (1840) formalising sovereignity, Hobson became Governor (1841-42)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi = The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Colonial Secretary's Office established (1841) to handle creation of NZ's public service

British William Shortland appointed by Hobson; then replaced by Paisley-born Andrew Sinclair from 1844-56.

Dr. Andrew Sinclair MD R.N., Colonial Secretary of New Zealand 1843-56

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Settlement schemes became more structured & large numbers of Scots arrived in 1840s on assisted immigration

Majority were from the Lowlands or Borders—mostly Lanarkshire & Midlothian (counties that include Glasgow & Edinburgh).

NEW ZEALAND COLONIZATION SOCIETIES. (New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 04 July 1840)

National Library of New Zealand


Scottish farmers were experiencing  falling cattle prices, a decline of the kelp industry, and the potato famine in the Highlands that began in the mid-1840s. New Zealand offered Scots migrants the opportunity for a better life – and the chance to shape a new society. 


> New ZEALAND Company ship 'Bengal Merchant'

New Zealand Bill 1839

Bill for the provisional government of British settlements.

DEBATE IN THE COMMONS ON THE NEW ZEALAND BILL. (New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 06 September 1839)

National Library of New Zealand

New Zealand Company ship 'Bengal Merchant', Feb 1840

Single women going out as servants to cabin passengers, or in charge of married emigrants, received a free passage.

First Scottish colony for New Zealand. That fine teak-built fast sailing ship Bengal Merchant ... will positively sail from Port-Glasgow for New Ze...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Mary and David McEwan arrive on the 'Bengal Merchant'

he 'Bengal Merchant' arrived with c.120 Scots at Port Nicholson in Feb 1840.

Mary and David McEwen

Palmerston North City Library

The Scotch kirk (church) opened on Lambton Quay, 1844 - first Presbyterian Church in NZ

The congregation was founded four years earlier by the Reverend John Macfarlane.

The Scotch kirk

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Re-enactment of arrival in NZ

1990 celebrations; re-enactment of early settlers' arrival; Brown family group

Upper Hutt City Library

>  New Zealand Company ship 'Blenheim'

New Zealand Company ship 'Blenheim', Dec 1840

The 'Blenheim' arrived with c.200 Scots; many settled north of Wellington at Kaiwharawhra - "the Scotch settlement".

London to India trade sailing ship 'Blenheim'.

Alexander Turnbull Library

Some 'Blenheim' Scots moved to Turakina, 1849

They moved to the Rangitīkei block after the Govt purchased it from Ngāti Apa in May 1849.

Buying the Rangitīkei block

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

>  Other migrant ship arrivals

Letter describing feelings and experiences written on board the 'Clydeside'

Donald Gollan describes his feelings on leaving Scotland, his family and friends to voyage to Wellington in 1841.

Gollan, Donald, 1811-1887 : Letter started on board the `Clydeside' and continued in Port Nicholson / Transcribed by Marsha Donaldson (electronic t...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Rev. James Duncan was sent by the Reformed Church of Scotland in 1843 as the first Presbyterian Missionary to the Māori

He arrived on the 'Phoebe' and settled at Te Awahou (Foxton) and worked among the Manawatu Māori until 1872.

Rev James Duncan

Kete Horowhenua

Nelson: New Zealand Company

The New Zealand Company claimed their negotiator Colonial William Wakefield (brother of Edward) purchased land at Port Whakatū (Nelson) and Wairau from Ngāti Toa in 1839.  In 1843, the Nelson colonists were keen to also occupy the Wairau Valley (70kms south-east of Nelson). This led to conflict with Te Rauparahau of Ngāti Toa who disagreed, obstructing surveyors and destroying their huts. Fighting broke out and the surrendered Europeans were killed. (See NZHistory)

New Zealand Company purchased land at Nelson (1839); sites surveyed (1841); & settlers arrived (1842)

The Fifeshire arrived in Nelson on 1 Feb 1842 with immigrants.

Settlers under canvas

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Fighting broke out in 1843 when surveying land at Wairau which Ngāti Hoa disputed had been purchased

Te Rauparahau of Ngāti Toa obstructed surveyors, destroyed their huts and killed surrendered prisoners.

Scene of the Wairau Massacre, New Zealand, from a sketch by Gully

Auckland Libraries

Alarm amongst settlers at the killings at Wairau

Incoming Governor, Robert FitzRoy, enraged settlers by arguing that the Europeans had provoked Ngāti Toa.

THE NELSON SETTLERS, Unreasonable Alarm and Excitement. (Daily Southern Cross, 04 November 1843)

National Library of New Zealand

AUCKLAND: Scottish Colonisation company 

Information about ship and passenger arrivals to Auckland is held by Auckland Council Libraries.   

Scots William Brown & John Logan Campbell were 'free' emigrants & arrived in 1840

They started Auckland's first merchant firm 'Brown and Campbell' in a tent.

A drawing looking south from Waitemata harbour over Commercial Bay...1840

Auckland Libraries

First colonists wave: 3 ships arrive from River Clyde, 184

Scottish Colonisation Company sailed 3 ships from River Clyde to Cornwallis Point, where monument now stands.

Cornwallis monument - plaque

Auckland Libraries

Second wave: 'Duchess of Argyle' & 'Jane Gifford', 1842

In 1842, Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners sailed 500+ from Paisley (where textile industry was in recession).

The arrival in Auckland of the Duchess of Argyle and the Jane Gifford

Auckland Libraries

Highlander Donald McLean becomes Government official, including land agent, 1844-63

Arrived in Auckland in 1840 to work for Sydney merchant firm; appointed to Govt roles, & became a politician in 1866.

Donald McLean, 1863

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Glaswegian Nathaniel Hawthorne set up lime works (1866) & Portland cement (1880s)

Arrived on Duchess of Argyll as 6 yr old & later on moved to Warkworth & began limemaking, then started cement works.

Group of workmen at J. Wilson & Co., Lime Works, Warkworth

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

'Duchess of Argyle' & 'Jane Gifford' reunion, 1894

Reunion of early colonists from 'Duchess of Argyle' and 'Jane Gifford' held in 1894.

Reunion of early colonists from the 'Jane Gifford' and the 'Duchess of Argyle' taken in front of the Choral Hall, Symonds Street,1894

Auckland Libraries


With the passing of the NZ Constitution Act 1846, NZ became divided into twp provinces - New Munster and New Ulster. The new Constitution Act 1852 enabled the General Assembly of New Zealand to make laws regulating the sale, disposal, and occupation of Crown land and authorised the division of New Zealand into six provinces.  


Edward Gibbon Wakefield's New Zealand Company had proposed NZ should have representative institutions

When Treaty still being signed, new settlers arrived in Wellington & set up their own Council, which Hobson disbanded.


National Library of New Zealand

George Grey appointed Governor (1845) & NZ Constitution Act (1846) divided NZ into 2 provinces: New Munster & New Ulster

Both had a Legislative & Executive Council led by a Lieutenant-Governor who reported to Governor Grey.

New Zealand Constitution Act 1846


The new NZ Constitution Act (1852) divided NZ into 6 provinces self-governed by elected councils

Under the New Provinces Act (1858) provision was made to add additional provinces.

Constitution Act 1852

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

B. Crown sold land to settlers 

The Crown sold land at £1 an acre with higher prices in the Wakefield settlements – £3 an acre in Canterbury and £2 in Otago. In 1853, Governor Grey issued regulations to reduce the price of rural land outside the Canterbury and Otago blocks to 10s. or 5s. an acre. This policy did not end up leading to greater numbers of poorer settlers but allowed speculators and pastoralists to take up large areas particularly in the South Island, Hawke's Bay, and Wairarapa, where the major areas of available land existed. Those who could not afford to take up pastoral land and buy the sheep to stock it, turned to market gardening or dairying on small farms, in many cases engaging in casual work to increase their income.      

North Island provinces (1852): Auckland, New Plymouth & Wellington

Hawkes Bay separated from Wellington on 1 Nov 1858 and New Plymouth changed its name to Taranaki.

The three North Island provinces established in the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

South Island provinces (1852): Canterbury, Nelson & Otago

Marlborough separated from Nelson on 1 Nov 1859; and Southland from Otago on 1 April 1861.

The three South Island provinces established in the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

C. Canterbury settlement founded 

Prior to the founding of the Canterbury settlement in 1850, several Scots moved south from Wellington. Organised groups of settlers on Canterbury Association vessels arrived between December 1850-1853. The ships arriving between 1853-1855 came independently. From 1855-1870 the Canterbury Provincial Government was in charge of immigration to Canterbury and had an emigration agent stationed in London.  (See Christchurch City Libraries) 

Several Scots moved south from Wellington in 1840s

Brothers John & William Deans moved to Riccarton (1843) and established first successful farm on Canterbury Plains.

Photograph: Dean's Homebush Station

Canterbury Museum

Clydesdale horses arrive from 1842 onwards

Newspaper reports mention Clydesdales arriving as early as 1842.


University of Otago

Plaque commemorating Scottish pioneers of 1840s

Scottish plaque at Kilmore Street

Christchurch City Libraries

Canterbury Association vessels arrived between Dec 1850-1853

First four ships were the 'Charlotte Jane', 'Randolph', 'Sir George Seymour', & 'Cressy'.

[Fox, William] 1812-1893 :Landing of passengers at Port Lyttleton 17 December 1850. Charlotte Jane. Randolph. Cressy. Sir G[eorge] Seymour. Office ...

Alexander Turnbull Library

From 1855-1870 the Canterbury Provincial Government was in charge of immigration

An emigration agent was stationed in London.

GOVERNMENT IMMIGRANTS. (Lyttelton Times, 08 September 1858)

National Library of New Zealand

Scots William Cargill was elected as the Canterbury province's Superintendent, 1853-1860

Captain William Cargill (1784-1860) was born in Edinburgh and arrived in NZ on the 'John Wickliffe', 1848.

William Cargill

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scottish shepherds were recruited

Scottish shepherd

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Border collie sheepdog

The Scottish shepherd & border collie were familiar figures on runs in the South Island, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.

The sheepdog memorial, Lake Tekapo

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

John & Allan McLean - largest numbers of sheep from 1852

The brothers owned land in runs in Canterbury, Otago, and Morven Hills.

Morven Hills Station (8)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Shetland ponies arrive 1858

Standens farm shetland Pony

Kete Horowhenua

Notorious Scotsman James Mackenzie and his dog 'Friday' rustled sheep, 1855

Mackenzie & Friday drove 1,000 sheep from Levels station north of Timaru south to the Mackenzie Country in March 1855.

Sheep dog owned by James MacKenzie

Alexander Turnbull Library

Don Reid's Salisbury estate in north Taieri, 1856

Land purchased 1856 to grow wheat & oats; then grazed sheep & cattle from mid-1860s.


National Library of New Zealand

Birthplace of Canterbury's assisted immigrants from UK during 1854-74: 19.9% were Scottish

Birthplaces of Canterbury’s assisted United Kingdom migrants, 1854–70

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

D. Otago - Influx arrived after 1848

The settling of Otago and Dunedin in the 1840s was organised by the New Zealand Company and its offshoot the Otago Association, as a (Presbyterian) Free Church of Scotland settlement. The recruitment scheme in Scotland, together with the direct departure from Scottish ports in addition to the River Thames, led to an influx of Otago settlers arriving after 1848. Over half of Otago’s United Kingdom-born population of 403 was Scottish. New Zealand  Land Company purchased Otago block from Ngāi Tahu (31 July 1844) for £2,400 & gained legal title in 1847.  Negotiations held by Local Government to allocate land for council use and for purchasing by settlers.   

Otago chosen in 1840 for settlement

Initial supporters were Scots George Rennie & William Cargill, & the Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland.

SETTLEMENT AT OTAGO. (Wellington Independent, 15 August 1846)

National Library of New Zealand

John McGlashan appointed secretary in Scotland for the Otago Association, 1847

He oversaw the arrangements for the dispatch of 12 of the first 14 ships; then emigrated to NZ in 1853.

Mr John McGlashan, secretary in Scotland for the Otago settlement.

University of Otago

Two New Zealand Company ships, 'Philip Laing' & 'John Wickliffe', set sail in 1847

Settlers boarded a ferry on Loch Goil to journey to Greenock, to set sail on 'Philip Laing' to NZ.

Colonists leaving for Otago, 1847

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The ship 'John Wickliffe' arrived on 23 March 1848 with 97 migrants

Sailed on 22 April from Gravesend (on River Thames). Migrants included many Scots, & agent Captain William Cargill.

John Wickcliffe ship

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Reunion of 'John Wickliffe' settlers, 1909


National Library of New Zealand

Reverend Thomas Burns selected passengers for the ship 'Philip Laing'

But rather than for religious reasons, most came to escape hardship or advance themselves economically.

Reverend Thomas Burns

Alexander Turnbull Library

The ship 'Philip Laing' arrived on 15 April 1848 with 247 migrants

Sailed on 27 Nov 1847 from Greenock on River Clyde. On board was Rev Burns (nephew of poet Robbie Burns) & his family.

Arrival of Philip Laing at Pt. C in Ap. 1848. John Wilckliffe at anchor

University of Otago

The Lay Association founded Dunedin in 1848

The new settlement was originally to have been named New Edinburgh but that was changed to Dunedin.

Dunedin, Edinburgh of the south - Roadside Stories

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Lots of land in Dunedin allocated to settlers before leaving Scotland

Modest houses, a store & a school, which was also used as the church, were constructed.

Fox, William 1812-1893 :Part of the town of Dunedin, Otago. W. Fox. Jan. 1849

Alexander Turnbull Library

Public meeting on Scottish settlement of Otago, 20 Dec 1848

Public meeting. Otago, New Zealand poster

University of Otago

View of Dunedin in 1849

View of Dunedin from ‘Little Paisley’

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Four page newspaper the "Otago News" established

Otago News 13 Oct 1849

University of Otago

Early settlers of emigrant ships & descendants, 1908

Two-thirds of the original Otago settlers were Free Church Presbyterians.


National Library of New Zealand

Chapter 6: land Grant schemes: 1850s 

The Waste Lands Act 1858 set out general conditions on which provinces could deal with Crown lands - control the land and the revenue that passed into the hands of the Provincial Councils.  Auckland introduced the sale of rural land on credit, and Wellington adopted a similar method of sale on deferred payments. Auckland and Otago adopted a ballot system for dealing with two or more applications for the same land, but later followed the pattern of offering land by auction used in the other provinces.  (See Te Ara)

A. Scots in Northland via nova scotia: 1850–1860 

North Island provincial government initiatives such as Auckland’s land grants scheme attracted Scottish migrant groups, including the followers of the Reverend Norman McLeod who settled at Waipū in Northland. 

Preacher Norman McLeod & Scots arrive in Northland (1854) from Nova Scotia

McLeod left Scotland in 1817 for Nova Scotia; then led his people facing hardship to Australia in 1851; then to NZ.

Waipū, a Scottish settlement

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scots mostly Highlanders & purchased land in Waipū

More Scots joined them from Nova Scotia & direct from Scotland. Total no. exceeded 800.

Waipū’s first settlers

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Descendants of Waipū settlers

Waipū’s community

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Memorial to Waipū's settlement by Scots

In 1918 the oldest of the original pioneers still living in Waipū was photographed sitting on the monument’s base.

Waipū’s memorial to its Scottish pioneers

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Chapter 7: SCOTS join gold rush: 1860-1870   


Scot John Buchanan discovered gold, 1858

Buchanan was the first to find gold in March 1858 at the Tuapeka and Clutha rivers.

John Buchanan

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scottish goldminers were mostly migrants from the Shetland Islands

Buchanan, John, 1819-1898 :Gabriel's Gully, Tuapeka by moonlight [1860s]

Alexander Turnbull Library