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New Zealand Migration

Oratia, 2023
Series: The NZ Series (Part 7)
ISBN 978-1-99-004239-3

New Zealand Migration tells the story of who came here, how, why and when. As historian Michael King said, “In a country inhabited for a mere one thousand years, everybody is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant.”

We all have our own family stories of arrival to link us to this land. This book recounts the stories and experience of migration to Aotearoa – from the first Polynesian arrivals to the Dawn Raids, from the New Zealand Company to ten-pound Poms, from Dutch and Dalmatian refugees to today’s Asian Kiwi communities.

The NZ Series from Oratia Books is a valuable non-fiction resource for general readers and schools, introducing complex subjects in simple, concise terms. This seventh volume in the series, New Zealand Migration, will make an excellent introduction for understanding our migrant nation. This book brings you stories of migration and arrival from a range of perspectives, some well-known and others much less so, and it’s crammed full of fascinating pictures and images as well.


For millions of years, New Zealand was an uninhabited land of trees and birdsong. It was one of the last countries in the world to be discovered.

Forests covered the land like a green blanket. Bats fluttered, skinks and geckos scuttled, giant snails crawled and tuatara basked in the sun. Seals sprawled over the rocks, pods of whales swam up and down the coast and the sea swarmed with life.

Moa roamed the land. Giant Haast’s eagles / pouākai soared through the sky. Kākāpō waddled along their tracks through scrub and tussock.  

And then people started to arrive. Who were they, and where did they come from?

The story behind the book

This is a book that grew out of other books I’ve worked on. To give just a few examples, while researching forThe New Zealand Wars, I learned about the Irish troops who were recruited to fight the Maori and ended up sympathising with their plight. While writing Antarctic Journeys, I pondered on how everyone who goes to Antarctica has to travel there from somewhere else. InThe Other Sister, set in the 1920s, Tilly gets to know Jim, the Chinese boy who lives with his uncle and delivers fruit and vegetables around the town. That book also features an incident drawn from real life in which small town populations protested against the presence of Indian scrubcutters who were passing through and needed a place to stay for the night.

I thought about how my own family members had come to this country, and I realised there were many more stories to be told. Writing this book has taught me so much about the people and the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. I hope you find the story of migration to this country as fascinating as I did!

Media Interviews


“Both Bishop and Werry have distilled tonnes of information into bite-sized pieces.” This is a thoughtful and in-depth review and it’s great to see such careful attention paid to NZ history books for a young audience, particularly in light of the new history curriculum… read more
Frank Wilson: Reviews: Two Aotearoa history books in The Sapling

“Employing brisk pacing and apt visual aids, this invaluable resource for classrooms and families alike bears witness to our collective tumultuous journey toward acceptance through painstakingly curated migrant perspectives.” … read more
Chris Reed in Read NZ Te Pou Muramura

“I really like Philippa’s inclusive last paragraph: For millions of years, there were no people living in New Zealand. Now there are over five million of us. All of us can say: ‘We came from far away, but New Zealand is our home now.’‘” … read more
Maria Gill in KidsBooksNZ

“What a gem of a book! New Zealand Migration, written by respected author Philippa Werry, is a must-have for anyone interested in the history of Aotearoa’s diverse migrant nation” … read more
Karen McMillan in NZBooklovers

“With nearly 60 photographs, both black & white and colour, posters of the past, newspaper clippings, copies of certificates and other documents, and separate boxed sections of extra information, New Zealand Migration is a rich resource for classrooms and New Zealand homes with an interest in our past.” … read more
Adele Broadbent in WhatBookNext.com

Teacher notes for New Zealand Migration are available here.

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