New Zealand refugee timeline

03:19, Jun 22 2009

Today is World Refugee Day. Following is a history of refugees in New Zealand and videos of individuals stories attached.

A history of the arrival of refugees in New Zealand:

1870s - Danes fleeing the suppression of their language and culture under German occupation arrive in New Zealand

1880s - Jews fleeing persecution from Tsarist Russia arrive

1890s - French Huguenots arrive suffering religious persecution.

1933-39 - About 1100 mainly Jewish refugees arrive between 1933 and 1939 in a bid to escape Nazi Germany. Many were declined under the Immigration Restriction Act 1931.


1944 - Considered the year New Zealand's formal refugee resettlement programme started, around 800 Polish refugees, 734 of them orphaned children, arrive for the duration of WWII. Many stay permanently.

1945-52 - Displaced persons from Europe arrive in New Zealand following WWII. Between 4,500 and 5,000 people come on ships provided by the International Refugee Organisation.

1956 - Chinese refugees from Hong Kong and Indonesia resettle in New Zealand

1956-58 - About 1100 Hungarian refugees are accept following the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet-backed Communist regime.

1959 - New Zealand becomes one of the first countries in the world to accept refugee families with handicapped members - those regarded as hard to settle for reasons such as ill health, disability, advanced age, or having large numbers of dependent children. By 1963, New Zealand had resettled over 200 such families.

1962 - New Zealand is slow to accept Chinese refugees following the civil war but in 1962, 50 Chinese orphans from are accepted from Hong Kong for adoption by New Zealand families. There was a quota of six families a year in the late 1960s and 12 Chinese families from Indonesia are admitted in 1967.

1965 - New Zealand accept 80 members of a group of Russian fundamentalist Christians in 1965. The group - known as "Old Believers" - had fled to China to escape persecution.

1968 - Around 125 Czechoslovaks are accepted between 1968 and 1971 following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

1970s - Refugees fleeing conflicts and persecution the Middle East begin to arrive. A group of Baha’i refugees from Iran arrive in 1979 and a further 142 between 1987 and 1989. 140 Assyrian Christians are accepted from refugee camps in Greece between 1985 and 1989 as well as Iraqi soldiers who deserted during the Iraq War.

1972-3 - 244 Ugandan-Asians arrive after being expelled from Uganda by President Idi Amin as part of his 'Africanisation' programme.

1974 - Following the downfall of the Communist government's in Eastern Europe, New Zealand accepts 335 Soviet Jews, 507 refugees under the Eastern European quota and 292 Poles who fled Poland when it was under martial law between 1981–83.

1975 - Following the Vietnam War New Zealand accepts refugees who had attempted to leave Vietnam in unsafe ships. Cambodians and Laotians also came fleeing invasion, repression and persecution. Between 1977 and 1993, 5,200 Cambodians, 4,500 Vietnamese and 1,200 Laotians are accepted for settlement in New Zealand.

1992-95 - Following the conflict in the former Yugoslavia - which results in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War - the government agrees to accept about 600 displaced people from Kosovo.

2000 - Between 2000 and 2003 around 1,800 Zimbabweans fleeing government persecution are granted permanent residence in New Zealand.

Present Day - New Zealand accepts refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran and the Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Burma/Myanmar.

*Source: Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand