New Zealand: The Britain of the South

As I first noted in 2001 and as well-reviewed in the Spring 1986 issue of The Island, the original owners of our house at 100 Prince Street, the family of Henry Smith, set forth in the late fall of 1858 for New Zealand. By way of explaining what might draw Islanders into such a Herculean venture The Island suggests:

Reports on the favourable New Zealand climate could also have been an inducement to emigrate. The conditions and the terms of the Waste Lands Act as applying in the six provinces were set out by Charles Hursthouse in his book New Zealand, the ‘Britain of the South’, published in 1857. Its favourable reports on the colony’s potential and careful instructions for would-be emigrants were believed at the time to have influenced the architects of the Prince Edward expedition, especially Robert Haszard, who was its principal organizer.

Thanks to Google, it’s now possible to read New Zealand, or Zealandia, the Britain of the South in its entirety (there’s another edition as well, although it’s incomplete). It’s a truly amazing work — I wish there were contemporary versions available for all the countries of the world. Here’s what it suggests is one of the attractions for those who might immigrate:

Families emigrating to New Zealand in 1861 will find a population sufficiently large to have subdued the roughness of the wilderness to have established society and social institutions to have founded several thriving Settlements and to have raised annual exports to the value of nearly a million sterling But they will not find a population sufficiently large as in the United States and in the older emigration fields of Canada and Australia to have taken the cream of the country by monopolizing town and village sites garden valleys water privileges and the crack agricultural estate creating lands.

All was not altruistic sweetness and light however:

The occurrence of the native disturbances described in the last chapter is much to be lamented. But we must remember that these affect only the north island and that in all human probability these ere long will effectually and for ever be put down. Indeed in a few months I trust we shall be able to liken these native disturbances to the thunder storm clearing the political atmosphere of the north and producing for the Auckland and New Plymouth emigrant of 1861 such welcome fruits as good land and plenty of it clear titles and good laws.

In other words, no so much unlike Canada.

Update: You can buy a re-print, New Zealand, Or, Zealandia, The Britain of the South, Volume I, from


Al's picture
Al on May 6, 2009 - 04:49 Permalink

Apparently Australians call New Zealanders “South Seas Poms” FWIW.