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by Michael Bellam
“New Zealand represents the far-flung edge of the Irish diaspora. The role of the Irish in New Zealand history has been largely overlooked and an examination of this topic is long overdue.
About 450,000 (1981) New Zealanders or 14 per cent of the total population can claim Irish ancestry. It appears that about 75 per cent of the Catholics in New Zealand are of Irish descent.
The history of the Catholic Church in New Zealand is largely the history of the Irish in that country. Because the number of Irish immigrants was very low in absolute terms and because they were widely dispersed throughout New Zealand, unlike the United States, Irish city neighbourhoods and Irish dominance of urban politics did not emerge in New Zealand.
Also, New Zealand was different from the United States in that significant proportions of Irish immigrants married outside their group from the earlier years, and went into mining and farming.”
This article looks at the Irish in New Zealand, and examines the role of the Irish in the nation’s history.