Why did European people want to come to New Zealand?
- They believed that New Zealand was a pacific paradise, with a warm climate and abundant food.
- New Zealand was a land of plenty, where everyone would be able to own land and make plenty of money.
- People would be free from the restrictions of the class-based societies they came from.
- People were offered free passage to New Zealand and told that they were going to get a fair days wage for a fair days work.
- People were offered ‘other’ incentives to move to New Zealand.
- New Zealand was one of the finest countries in the world.
What was the boat trip like?
Everyone got sea sick and they were confined in very cramped accommodation.
There were lots of storms and people and belongings were thrown everywhere.
People often died on the voyages and they were quickly buried at sea.
The food was terrible, the drinking water stank and it was very hot below decks.
It took months to sail to New Zealand and life on board ranged from boring to terrifying.
What was New Zealand like for those early colonial settlers?
The first white “arrivals” in New Zealand were whalers and sealers. They had a difficult and hard life as the country was wild and untamed. Some employed local Māori, in a range of tasks, from cutting timber or flax, to supplying food and guides.
The first “settlers” were unused to the extreme conditions that they found in many parts of this strange new land. Their own homelands had been well settled, cleared and farmed for generations.
The first settlers had to work very hard to clear land for farming or crops.
Life was also hard for the settlers families as often the whole family had to live in a single room tent until they could build rough huts to shelter from the wind and rain. Food and supplies were limited in those early days.
“Staple” items such as flour and sugar were expensive and hard-to-get commodities.
Even after building a hut, sourcing glass for windows or iron for the roof often took years. In fact for some, those items were luxuries they never experienced.
Life was much better than it had been in England though. They had freedom.
Water had to be fetched from the nearest stream, but care had to be taken not to build too close to the streams because of constant flooding.
Our whole family spent weeks and weeks clearing bush and planting crops.
As more and more settlers arrived, Māori began to distrust ‘the Pākehā’, because they were taking land off them. It did not take long before this reached a crisis point and war broke out around the country.
As settlers spread out and began exploring other areas of this rich land, immense quantities of coal, timber and gold were discovered, leading to even more settlers, communities and exploitation.