Irish New Zealanders

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Irish New Zealanders
Total population
c. 600,000 of Irish ancestry
Regions with significant populations
New Zealand
English, Irish
Roman Catholic, Protestantism, etc.
Related ethnic groups
Scottish New Zealanders and European New Zealanders

Irish New Zealanders are New Zealanders who are of Irish ancestry or New Zealanders who originate from Ireland.

The Irish diaspora in the nineteenth century reached New Zealand, with many Irish people immigrating to the country, predominantly to Auckland, Canterbury and the West Coast. With Irish immigration to New Zealand, the Irish people established Catholic churches and schools especially in Auckland.[1] Currently, there are roughly 600,000 New Zealanders today of Irish ancestry, with Irish culture influencing the culture of New Zealand.[2]

The descendants of the Irish people and their culture have mixed with other New Zealand European cultures to form modern-day New Zealand culture. However, unlike many Scottish settlers in Otago and Southland Irish settlers were more spread out across the country, resulting in visible Irish communities throughout New Zealand that began to mix with other communities.[3] Job opportunities for Irish-born New Zealanders were limited as a result of anti-Irish bias. However, this did not stop many joining the New Zealand Police Force with 40% being of Irish ancestry into the 1930s. One of the main reasons the Irish immigrated to New Zealand was because of the Great Famine.

Irish culture in New Zealand[edit]

The Irish national public holiday, St. Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in New Zealand with over 65 pubs around the country taking part.[2][4] Nevertheless, Irish influence in New Zealand culture is not as influential as the Scottish and English cultures brought to New Zealand.[5]

Irish immigration to New Zealand; 1840–1915[edit]

Irish immigration to New Zealand during the Irish diaspora in the nineteenth and early twentieth was predominantly from the region of Ulster.[6] Immigration from the region of Leinster however, was quite common to New Zealand from 1840 towards 1852. However, immigration during the Irish diaspora from Connaught was uncommon, making up a small percentage of Irish immigration in New Zealand.


More significant expressions of Irish culture came in politics. The long struggles in Ireland for land reform, home rule rather than English rule, and eventually independence were a major concern of British politics throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many in New Zealand followed these debates and crises, and expressed their sympathies in a number of ways. Occasionally it came in the form of civil disorder. There were 'shindies' between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestant Orangemen (a Protestant group) at Ōkārito in 1865. In Christchurch on Boxing Day 1879, 30 Irishmen attacked an Orange procession with pick-handles, and in Timaru 150 men from Thomas O’Driscoll's Hibernian Hotel surrounded Irish Orangemen and prevented their procession.

Irish place names in New Zealand[edit]

Although overshadowed by the larger numbers of English, Maori and Scottish place names, there are many place names in New Zealand with connections to Ireland or Irish people, including:

Ardmore, after Ardmore, County Waterford.

Athenree, after Athenree, County Tyrone.

Ballance, after Irish-born Prime Minister John Ballance.

Bangor, after Bangor, County Down.

Belfast, after Belfast.

Bowentown, after Irish-born Governor George Bowen.

Camla, after Camla, County Monaghan.

Capleston, after Irish settler Patrick Quirk Caples.

Cronadun, after Cronadun, County Donegal.

Dargaville, after Irish settler Joseph Dargaville.


Dunsandel, after Dunsandle Castle, Galway.

Glasnevin, New Zealand, after Glasnevin, County Dublin.

Glenavy, New Zealand, after Glenavy, County Antrim.

Glen Massey, after Irish-born Prime Minister William Massey.

Hobsonville, after Irish-born Governor William Hobson.

Hurleyville, after a family of Irish settlers.

Katikati, previously known as Waterford.

Kerrytown, after County Kerry.

Killinchy, after Killinchy, County Down.

Kingston, originally St Johns, after Irish-born police commissioner St John Branigan.

Martinborough, after Irish settler John Martin.

Mauriceville, after Irish-born Minister of Immigration and Crown Lands Sir George Maurice O'Rorke

Massey, after Irish-born Prime Minister William Massey.

Shannon, after Irish settler George Vance Shannon.

Queenstown, after Cobh.

Westport, after Westport, County Mayo.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phillips, Jock. "Irish – Migration 1800–1850". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b McLachlan, Marilynn (17 March 2014). "St Patrick's Day: 10 Irish influences on New Zealand". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  3. ^ Phillips, Jock. "Irish – Settlement". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  4. ^ Phillips, Jock. "Irish – Culture and politics before 1911". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  5. ^ Phillips, Jock. "The New Zealanders – Britons". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  6. ^ "The Irish – British & Irish immigration, 1840–1914 | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 13 November 2015.