Immigrant stories from
the 1950s and 60s

There have always been families with children migrating from their country of birth to a new place that is considered better to live in. A small trickle of Danish families immigrated to New Zealand in the 50s and 60s. The children that came are now senior members of The Danish Society.

In the 1950s and 1960s there was a small but steady trickle of immigrants from Denmark settling in New Zealand. They had heard of the good standard of living in New Zealand and above all there was no unemployment. There was work for all and a future to be developed.

Many of the Danes that settled in the 1950s and 60s had experienced the restrictions of the depression in the 1930s followed by the Nazi occupation of Denmark 1940 to 1945. Life after the war had settled back in the old folds. There was a hopefulness that life would improve but for many it could not come fast enough. Economic change in Denmark was still to come.

It was the desire for a better life and adventure that drove many Danes to leave their country and search for a different lifestyle in New Zealand.

The New Zealand our immigrants came to was a large country, to the Danes, but with a small population of about 2.17 million. A country of warmth and sunshine with a derived English based culture and language.

Culturally and socially it was very different. The 50s and 60s was the time of “6 o’clock closing” of the pubs which was a very strange phenomenon to these immigrants and even worse, there were very few restaurants. The majority of families owned their own house and a car. There was emphasis on the family, the garden and a vegetable growing plot outdoors, while indoors the NZ housewife could proudly show off her preserves in the pantry.

Farmers were esteemed and the high price for wool overseas gave NZ the financial support it needed to be able to build the infrastructure of roads, dams and other projects. If you were young and willing to work there was money to be made

Immigration increased the New Zealand population and with that came new houses, schools, shopping centres, health services and entertainment.

There was also an openness by New Zealanders to people from overseas and things “Continental”. They too wanted to have new experiences at home.

Danish Students

These are the stories of a few migrants who came to New Zealand and made excellent citizens. They lived content lives and bought up their families who to this day have contributed well to New Zealand. They are but a few examples of how the Danish community in New Zealand has helped to make this country what it is today.

Bente Winter

Lilly Sørensen

Kirsten Møller

Poul Jørgensen

Oluf Basse

Esther Barrett

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