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Portuguese New Zealanders
Total population
1,365 New Zealanders
Roughly 0.03% of New Zealand's population[1]
Portuguese · New Zealand English
Portuguese Creole
Roman Catholicism · Protestantism
Related ethnic groups
Portuguese · Portuguese Australian · Portuguese Canadian ·
Portuguese Brazilian · Portuguese American

Portuguese New Zealanders are either Portuguese who migrated to New Zealand, or New Zealanders of Portuguese descent. According to the latest 2018 New Zealand census, 447 residents of the country declared Portugal to be the place of their birth, and it is estimated that Portuguese migrants and their descendants number approximately 1,365,[2] up from 900 in 2006, and 1000 in 1996.

On 22 April 2010, Portuguese New Zealanders were recognised by the Office of Ethnic Affairs as an official community of New Zealand,[3] having tied the 70th ribbon to Parliament's mooring stone on the Parliament House Galleria.[4] The Portuguese Embassy in Canberra, Australia is accredited to New Zealand,[5] while there are two honorary Portuguese consulates in New Zealand,[6] one in Wellington and the other in Auckland, both of which operate through the Portuguese Consulate-General in Sydney.

As well as having been recognised as an official community, the Portuguese in New Zealand hold several annual meetings and celebrations such as Portugal Day, and are organised through a friendship association.[7][8]


In the 19th and early 20th centuries there were more Portuguese than Spaniards in New Zealand.[9] This was probably a reflection in part of the close commercial links between Portugal and England. Portuguese were recorded amongst New Zealand's early colonists, one Ngāti Kahungunu family has a Portuguese whaler in its whakapapa (genealogical chart), and Auckland singer Bill Worsfold[10] claims to be the descendant of this whaler, and wrote a ballad about his tough life and arrival in New Zealand.[11] Other arrivals included António Rodrigues, who migrated from the island of Madeira with his wife in the 19th century and eventually settled in Akaroa,[12] where he built the "Madeira Pub Hotel", which is still in activity.[13] Another early settler was Francisco Rodrigues Figueira, also from Madeira, who owned a prison labour gum-digger's camp in West Auckland in the late 19th century. Known as "Don Buck", Figueira was a colourful and violent character and he is remembered in such west Auckland placenames as Don Buck Road, Don Buck Primary School, and Don Buck Corner Reserve.[14] In the mid-20th century, Portuguese migration to New Zealand nearly stagnated with only 12 Portugal-born migrants being registered in the 1951 census, but the Portuguese diaspora gained a new momentum in the 1960s, and later after the Carnation Revolution when the number of Portuguese migrants to New Zealand rose even further.

Portuguese-born Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira was the only victim of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland. On 10 July 1985, two French DGSE agents bombed the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's flagship, which was scheduled to depart New Zealand to disrupt nuclear testing in French Polynesia. This was to date the only foreign attack on New Zealand's soil.

Today, the Portuguese are part of an even larger Portuguese-speaking community in New Zealand, that also includes Brazilians, East Timorese, Macanese and Cape Verdeans. Despite constituting 0.03% of New Zealand's population, some 0.22% of New Zealanders speak Portuguese according to the latest census.

Notable Portuguese New Zealanders

Name Birth and death Occupation Notes
Brooke Fraser 1983– Singer songwriter Portuguese descent
Bernie Fraser (rugby union) 1953– Rugby union player Portuguese descent
Melanie Rodriga 1954– Film maker, lecturer, author Portuguese descent
Manoel Santos 1940–2013 Boxer Portuguese descent
Joseph Musaphia 1935– Writer, actor Portuguese descent

See also


  1. ^ "2018 Census ethnic group profiles: Portuguese". Archived from the original on 23 September 2019.
  2. ^ 2018 Census ethnic group profiles: Portuguese New Zealand 2018 Census
  3. ^ "Mundo Português (Portuguese)"
  4. ^ "Portuguese community add their ribbon to Parliament's mooring stone" New Zealand Parliament
  5. ^ Portugal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  6. ^ "Communities Secretariat, Portuguese Government (Portuguese)"
  7. ^ Amigos De Portugal Nova Zelandia
  8. ^ "Communities Secretariat, Portuguese Government (Portuguese)"
  9. ^ "TeAra, New Zealand Government"
  10. ^ ""Bill & Kath Worsfold website
  11. ^ "Youtube – Bill Worsfold "I only spoke Portuguese""
  12. ^ "Story: Other Western Europeans Part of page 2 – Spain and Portugal" TeAra, New Zealand Government
  13. ^ "Madeira Hotel"
  14. ^ "Francisco Rodrigues Figueira" TeAra Biographies, New Zealand Government