For 150 years the English dominated migration to New Zealand from Europe. Faced with competition from Australia, Canada and the United States, New Zealand attracted British migrants by offering assisted and sometimes free passages. The offer was not an open one – an application had to be made and approved – and some groups were preferred over others. Generally, the English, Welsh and Scots were welcomed, the Irish less so. Other matters also played a part – proximity to a port from which ships sailed to New Zealand was a factor, as was the pull of relatives and friends who had already emigrated.
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Source: Jock Phillips & Terry Hearn, Settlers: New Zealand immigrants from England, Ireland & Scotland, 1800–1945. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008, p. 52.