Somes Prisoners

German-ating the Seeds of Anger:

The Great War's impact on Germans

in Manawatu and Rangitikei, New Zealand.


By Val Burr 

A 'Research Exercise' prepared in partial fulfilment of a B.A. (Hons.) in History at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 1996.

(Revised in 1999, and adapted to suit the Internet in April 2003)





Migrants from Germany comprised only a small percentage of New Zealand’s total immigrant population last century. For example, in the 1870s around 100,000 migrants arrived under the Vogel Immigration and Public Works Scheme. Of these, the vast majority were British, but amongst that number were several thousand Germans. The Manawatu-Rangitikei area became the new home of many of these people. 

Over the years these immigrants established farms and businesses, raised families, suffered good and bad fortune, and generally got on with their new life. They became just another small part of a diverse New Zealand community, at least until war broke out in 1914. 

This study explores the experience of Germans in New Zealand, and especially those in the Manawatu and Rangitikei districts, at a time when being both non-British and associated with the host country’s most hated enemy made them the target of considerable prejudice. Therefore, the study explores the various factors affecting the lives of these people at this time, the majority of whom were advanced in years.  It leaves them at a time when it seemed their nightmare had ended.

© Val Burr, 2003