160 years of Croatian settlement in New Zealand was celebrated on Saturday night with a function at the Croatian Cultural Society in Auckland.
There was a big turnout for the function which celebrated 160 years of Croatians in New Zealand and also Statehood Day, which falls this month. A number of dignitaries were present on the night, including New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and Croatian Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Dr. Damir Kusen, who ended his mandate this weekend.
The night started with the national anthems of New Zealand and Croatia before Auckland’s Kralj Tomislav Choir & Orchestra performed ‘Boze Cuvaj Hrvatsku’.
After a short video, Kralj Tomislav’s First Ensemble, Intermediate Group & Orchestra danced a traditional kolo from Slavonija. The group then performed a Dalmatian melody and the famous Lindjo dance.
In 1858 the first pioneers arrived in New Zealand from Croatia. Many followed in the years following. Most left their villages on the Dalmatian coast and islands to head to the other end of the world to work in the gum fields in the north of New Zealand.
Many went on to make their living in fishing and agriculture, especially wine making and fruit growing. A large number of Croatians have made a big impact in New Zealand society over the last century, especially in business and sport.
The biggest wave of migration from Croatia to New Zealand happened between 1890 and 1914, prior to World War I. Around 60,000 Croatians and their descendants are believed to be living today in New Zealand, with most based in Auckland, Hamilton, Whangarei, and Wellington.