New Zealand Books

The books listed here have been chosen to give background information to aid in understanding your ancestors and bringing your family history to life. They come from a variety of sources, all online, some are part of a subscription service such as Find My Past or Ancestry, others are free.

The Farthest Promised Land — English Villagers, New Zealand Immigrants of the 1870s

The Farthest Promised Land This book by Rollo Arnold is essential reading for those with ancestors who emigrated from England to New Zealand. This highly readable book concerns itself with the unrest in the countryside, the agents who travelled the country signing up those who felt they would benefit from seeking their fortunes on the other side of the world and what those brave souls found when they arrived in the promised land. There are indexes for subject matter, names and places at the end of the book which are most helpful. I found my Enoch Whiting Willis here and learnt much more about him and his family, their reasons for emigrating and accounts of his life in NZ. Recommended.


New Zealand Emigration & Gold Fields

New Zealand Emigration & Gold Fields

I came across this interesting book “New Zealand Emigration & Gold Fields” by George Butler Earp, published in 1853 by George Routledge & co on the Find My Past Australasian website. I can just image some of our ancestors being seduced by the lure of gold and snapping up this book when newly printed !

The book covers such subjects as children being an asset in the new colony, over coming a reluctance to emigrate, reports from the various gold diggings and the use of capital in NZ which would be too small to be of any use in England. When tracing our family trees it is easy to concentrate on adding more and more ancestors and forgetting to get to know the ones that we already have. This book is a good example of background material that adds understanding and colour to our ancestors lives.

image – Wikimedia – Gold miner with cart emerging from a NZ gold mine – Auckland Libraries

New Zealand for the Emigrant, Invalid & Tourist

New Zealand for the Emigrant, Invalid & TouristNew Zealand for the Emigrant, Invalid & Tourist written by John Murray More was published in 1890 by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. The book covers a wide variety of subjects which may indicate that the author was trying to appeal to a vast target market. Some of the titles of the sub-chapters are classes of immigrant not wanted, rates of pay and cost of living, the climate, the advantages that NZ offers over other health resorts, tattoos of the Maori, settlement of the land and lunacy in NZ. I wonder if the book was a success with tourists & settlers alike?

The book runs to 259 pages and says a lot about what was thought to be of great importance at the time. Wonderful background material. This book is available to be either read online or downloaded as a PDF file from or


Emigration: Where to Go, and Who Should Go: New Zealand & Australia

Emigration: Where to Go, and Who Should Go: New Zealand & AustraliaEmigration: Where to Go, and Who Should Go: New Zealand & Australia (As Emigration Fields) In Contrast with the United States & Canada. The author obviously liked short snappy titles (!!), but it may have been that he need to make his book stand out from what appears to have been quite a wide range of books on the market at this time. Written by Charles Hursthouse and published by Trelawny Sauders this book starts by several pages of reviews from the press in the UK and NZ. It would seem that Mr Hursthouse travelled the country giving lectures on emigration to Australia & New Zealand and these had been gather together in this book.

I haven’t read this book cover to cover and I suspect few family historians would, it is wordy and very opinionated and I suspect doesn’t add a lot to our understanding. However if a search on brings up a reference to a family name then you might want to read a page or two.

The book is available on Australasia FindMyPast and it is also on Google Books.

English emigration to New Zealand, 1839 – 1850: information, diffusion and marketing a new world.

English emigration to New Zealand, 1839 – 1850: information, diffusion and marketing a new world.This is a paper written by Paul Hudson of the University of Exeter and was published in the Economic History Society’s journal in 2001. The paper is scholarly, but very readable and gives a good overview of the what, why and when of emigration from England to New Zealand. The paper runs to 20 pages so can be read quickly. The paper is available free online via the Hungerford Virtual Museum website. Recommended.