Celebrating the first kilted Kiwis to settle New Zealand

One hundred and seventy years ago the first Scottish settlers arrived in New Zealand and despite the passage of time links between the old and new worlds remain unbroken.

Scottish poster advertising emigration to New Zealand

Poster advertising emigration to New Zealand

Four months after the merchant ship John Wickliffe set sail from Gravesend, England and the Philip Laing put out from Greenock, both carrying emigrants from Scotland, they arrived in Otago on 23 March 1848.

In the same way Scotland’s contribution to mankind as a whole has been out of all proportion to the size of the country so has been the influence of Scots on New Zealand.

Dunedin, the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, became the first major foothold for the Scots in New Zealand and to this day its Scottish heritage remains visible throughout the city and surrounding region.

Throughout the south island Scottish epithets can be found littering the map. The major river in the south is called the Clutha, the original designation for the Clyde, and other familiar place names such as Athol, Bannockburn, Glenorchy and Wedderburn strengthen the link between the two countries.

It’s estimated there are more than 130 locations, ranging from abandoned villages to bustling cities, in New Zealand with titles associated with Scotland of which almost 100 are in the South Island alone.

Between 1853 and 1870 Scots accounted for about 10 per cent of the UK population and more than 30 per cent of New Zealand’s UK-born immigrants.

Today almost 26,000 New Zealanders were born in Scotland and thousands more claim Scottish identity. Although the forefathers of the majority came from other countries the link between those claiming Scottish blood and the old country remains strong and unbroken.

A much more detailed story with photographs can be found in Issue 15 of Scotland Correspondent magazine.

  • Full feature in Issue No.15

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