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New Zealand’s ‘hidden Irish’ emerge

New Zealand’s ‘hidden Irish’ emerge

The history of New Zealand’s ‘hidden Irish’ will be explored by international speakers and local experts at a conference at Victoria University from 29-31 July.

A considerable number of New Zealand’s Irish migrants, some argue up to half, came from Ulster - Ireland’s northernmost historical province. While it has been assumed the majority were quickly absorbed into the ‘British’ settler population, thereby losing their cultural identity, the reality is arguably more complex.

During the three-day event, hosted by Victoria’s Irish-Scottish Studies Programme, scholars from New Zealand and Ulster will throw new light on migration patterns, attempt to identify just who the settlers were, and probe their long-term contributions to the development of New Zealand society.

Topics include When is a Mick not a Mick?; Women and the Orange Order; How Ulster is New Zealand?; and Moneyless at Moneymore, Moneybags at Martinborough: The Life and Times of John Martin.

The conference is the first to focus solely on Northern Irish settlers in New Zealand, according to the Director of Victoria’s Irish-Scottish Studies Programme, Dr Brad Patterson.

“When we think of Irish settlers in New Zealand, the image that usually springs to mind is the Irish from the Southern counties, from places like Dublin, Limerick and Killarney, not Ulster. This conference is important because it focuses on a whole part of our heritage that’s been obscured over the last 100 plus years - the ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ Irish settlers.

“What also makes this event unique is the input we’ve had from our Northern Ireland counterparts at the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages and the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies at the University of Ulster. The fact that they’ve sent eight fantastic scholars over to speak at the conference shows how interested and keen they are to be part of this unravelling of history.”

Highlights of the conference, which will be held in the Hunter Council Chamber, Kelburn Parade, include: The 2004 Stout Lecture, delivered by Professor Keith Jeffery, Parnell Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge. Thursday 29 July at 6.45pm. Distance and proximity in service to the Empire: Ulster and New Zealand in the 20th century. This is a public lecture. The launch of the book From Ulster to New Ulster: The 2003 Ulster-New Zealand Lectures, edited by Dr Brad Patterson. 30 July at 6.15pm. Presentations from keynote speakers:

Jock Phillips, Ministry of Culture & Heritage, Who were the Ulster migrants? 30 July, 9am.

Malcolm Campbell, University of Auckland, How Ulster was New Zealand? 30 July, 2pm. Fintan Mullan, Ulster Historical Foundation, History from Headstones. 31 July, 1.30pm.

To view the full conference programme visit

For information on attending events or to find out more about The Hidden Irish: Ulster/New Zealand Migration and Cultural Transfers, contact: Dr Brad Patterson, 04 463 5132 or

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