Love Across the Sea

Friday, March 20, 2015
 Scrapbook made for Dutch immigrant Toni Tecklenburg (gifted by Toni Angell)

The Museum's Immigrants Gallery tells stories of some of the people who came to Aotearoa from the 1840s to the 1960s. One of these is Toni Tecklenburg, a Dutch immigrant, who emigrated to New Zealand as an 11 year old with her close family on a five week voyage on 'MS SIBAJAK' in 1952. On display is this scrapbook made for her by friends and family in her home of Den Bosch with messages of farewell (gifted by Toni Angell - 1993.34.1).

The “Share your Immigration Story” wall in the exhibition is updated daily with visitors’ own tales of their or their descendants move to New Zealand, leaving their homes and families. These examples are of more recent 'arrivals', who visited the exhibition for themselves.

As you will see from the exhibition, Aotearoa’s population is made up of immigrants and their descendants, from the very early Māori voyagers who settled here to the thousands of people from all over the world who now move to this country each year. People have moved far to New Zealand for a variety of reasons – to seek opportunity and resources, to escape conflict and seek refuge, to be with family, or simply because of the landscape, people and culture here. Something they all have in common is that they have left their lives, their homes, and friends and close or extended family to make a new life in our country.

Nowadays, visiting the other side of the world is feasible (thanks to advent of affordable air travel), but many immigrants would have left their homes on long dangerous journeys believing they would never be able to return. In the 150 years after 1800, waves of immigrants came to New Zealand, mostly from Britain and Ireland, and some from China to work in the goldfields of Otago.

The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi gave people in Britain the right to New Zealand citizenship - with bleak situation there and the promise of a better future here, immigration after 1840 steadily increased. Many were assisted in their migration to bring skills and numbers to the country. Throughout the 20th century large numbers of people from different countries also sought new lives in New Zealand. Whether a move for positive or negative reasons, the decision would have been made to exchange their current lives for what was offered in New Zealand, leaving behind loved ones and their home. 

Visit our New Beginnings exhibition to learn more about early settlers and their stories.

An immigration story from a Museum visitor
An immigration story from a Museum visitor