Germans continued to arrive, in smaller groups, right up to the outbreak of war in 1914, which stopped their immigration altogether. During the First World War many Germans were interned as enemy aliens on Somes Island and Motuihe Island. The only notable figure to overcome the anti-German hysteria of the time was Count Felix von Luckner. He became something of a folk hero after escaping with a crew of 10 from Motuihe Island in 1917.
Germans were again interned on Somes Island during the Second World War.
Refugees from Nazism
In the 1930s, a significant number of refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria arrived. Many came as children and later had a great influence, particularly on New Zealand’s cultural life. Among this group, most of them Jewish, were musicians, doctors, academics, educationalists and patrons of the arts. Germany’s loss was undoubtedly New Zealand’s gain.
Arrivals after the Second World War
Relations between Germany and New Zealand since the Second World War have been cordial, highlighted by three visits to New Zealand by German presidents, in 1978, 1993 and 2001.
The 1990s saw the largest influx of German immigrants, exceeding even the immigration drive of the 1870s. In the early 2000s, Germans represented the largest group of newly arrived immigrants from continental Europe. However, whereas early settlers came predominantly from the lower echelons of society, modern-day German immigrants tend to come from the upper middle class. Many come for ecological reasons, and are active in environmental circles. Others come as tourists and decide to settle, as they see New Zealand as less restricting both professionally and educationally. Recent arrivals do have one thing in common with their 19th-century counterparts – the pursuit of happiness and individual freedom.