Sunday, 2 June 2019

Peopling New Zealand, 1947 Scheme ~ Terence Wynne

In July 1947, with a view to solving its labour shortage, the government rolled out a new assisted immigration scheme, aimed at attracting young, single and skilled workers to New Zealand. The scheme was widely advertised in the classified sections of British newspapers. My granduncle Terence McSwiney Wynne didn't have to be asked twice! He passed his interview, then his medical, and immediately packed his bags, ready to set sail.

The first batch of 118 assisted immigrants departed from Tilbury, in the Port of London, on 18 July 1947. Terry Wynne was among them. He sailed aboard the Rangitata, arriving in Auckland, five weeks later, on 23 August 1947. According to Captain G. Kinnell, the ship’s commander, they enjoyed a good trip out, with only about 24 hours’ rough weather.[2]

Their arrival in Auckland was met with a certain amount of ceremony. They had a sound truck on the wharf playing ‘specially selected music’, to provide a ‘suitable atmosphere’ for their disembarkation, and the Mayor, John Allum, welcomed them to the country.[3]

Terence McSwiney Wynne (1922 - 1993)
New Zealand’s assisted immigrants from Britain, 1947
(Terry Wynne, centre of the back row)

In return for the price of his passage, Terry was bonded for two years, to work whatever job the government gave him. Family lore says, he worked on three public projects in the Central North Island, during his two years:-

‘He purportedly mined the open-cast coal mine at Huntly, much to the horror of his mother back in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. She was adamant none of her sons would become miners. Supposedly, Terry was also a bushman in the Kaingaroa forest (which would subsequently become the largest man-made forest in the Southern Hemisphere). And, he's said to have helped rebuild the luxury hotel, the Chateau, at NZ’s first North Island ski-field.’

The story that Terry worked in the mines certainly turned out to be true. First, a report from the Minister of Mines to NZ's House of Representatives in 1948 confirmed assisted immigrants from Britain were employed in the mines.[4] And secondly, NZ’s electoral registers show Terence McSwiney Wynne, miner, residing at 3 Onslow Street, Huntly, in 1949.[5] So, his mother’s worst fears were realised, but only for a short time. Terry adapted well to his adopted home in New Zealand, on the other side of the world from all he knew, and he went on to create a good life for himself and his future family.

[1] 'New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973' (accessed FamilySearch, 18 May 2019).
[2] Gisbourne Herald, 25 August 1947, p. 4.
[3] New Zealand History (accessed 18 May 2019).
[4] Mines Statement by The Hon. A. McLagan, Minister of Mines, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1948 Session I, C-02, p.7 (accessed AtoJsOnline, 18 May 2019).
[5] 'New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981', accessed $


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