Push and Pull Factors – Britain to Nz

12 December 2016

New Zealand and Britain were two very different countries. While Britain was a flourishing country with big cities, tall buildings, a steadily growing population and civilised enough to have organised people into classes, in New Zealand the Maori had only settled three-hundred years earlier, the land was heavily forested, there was no major cities or towns and there was no money – only trade. Although Britain was much more developed than New Zealand, it was becoming overcrowded and many unpleasant factors resulted; and these are the push factors that caused people to migrate to New Zealand.

Also the exaggerations and lies told about New Zealand were pull factors that further enticed migration to New Zealand. A push factor is an effect that causes you to leave your country. In the case for Britain; there were multiple push factors that caused large-scale migration to New Zealand. One push factor was: although Britain was a flourishing country, it was becoming over-populated.

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In the 1800s, during the Victorian Era, the population had doubled from 20 million up to 40 million. There wasn’t much space and jobs/money for a significant amount of the population as it had gotten so large.

Another push factor was that people in lower classes were not getting paid decently, which meant that they couldn’t provide properly for themselves or for their families. For example, skilled workers (like carpenters, builders etc…), sailors, domestic staff, labourers and soldiers got paid less than ? 100 every year. Young children in lower classes were often forced to work (slave labour), usually in mines and factories for very little pay. And so if you didn’t have a lot of money, alcohol was not only cheap, but also easier to get than pure drinking water.

This meant that there was lots of drunkenness (even amongst children) that caused rowdy behaviour and so prisons were over-crowded and dirty. Poverty and disease was another push factor that resulted from lack of money and over-population. Many families/people lived on the streets, in unsanitary conditions that caused many deaths and diseases. In these horrible conditions, diseases such as cholera, consumption and typhus spread very rapidly. These diseases which are easily preventable and treatable today caused many deaths back then as there was no medical help for the poor.

These are all push factors that encouraged lower class people to escape their overcrowded, unsanitary and under-paid life in Britain and migrate to New Zealand. A pull factor is an ideal that entices you to a new country or place. The pull factors that encouraged large-scale migration from Britain to New Zealand were overly exaggerated. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company, described New Zealand as a ‘…beautiful country with the finest climate, and the most productive soil…’ when in fact he had never been to New Zealand and this was hardly true.

This meant when the immigrants finally arrived in New Zealand they were heartbroken and disappointed as it was not what they had been promised. One pull factor was how the New Zealand Company described and advertised this new land. They said it was a ‘Britain of the South’ and that it was a fertile land with a benign climate, friendly locals, that is was already settled with teeming cities and free of starvation. Although it enticed many people to come to New Zealand, most of this, of course, was not true.

The land was not fertile and was densely forested, there were no major settlements and some locals (Maori) were hostile to the Europeans once they arrived. Another pull factor that furthered enticed the immigrants was that they were offered either free or ‘assisted’ passages. An assisted passage was where the person worked to pay back the expense of the passage. With free and assisted passages, now lower class families could afford to migrate to New Zealand, where they thought they could start a new life.

This encouraged many poor families to migrate, as there was not much for them in Britain anyway. The journey to New Zealand was rather pleasant for middle and higher class families. But for the lower class, they were all crammed into the bottom deck of the boat, with hardly enough space to breathe, let alone live there for the six month long journey. The lies that the New Zealand Company had fed the migrants gave them false hope, and when they finally arrived in New Zealand they were very disappointed.

For migration to New Zealand to become possible, the New Zealand Company had to attract investors, so another pull factor for higher and middle class families was that if they were to invest in the New Zealand Company they would receive 100 acres of fertile farmland. This again, is not true, as there was no fertile land, only dense bush and forests, and the land that the company was giving away never belonged to them in the first place. Still the thought of owning so much land and starting a farm where lots of money could be earned enticed many people to migrate, even if it was not valid.

So this meant that when the investors arrived in New Zealand, they had to cut down the trees to make farmland, but even with the trees cleared it was not very fertile. Also the Maori did not like the Europeans claiming and selling their land and cutting down their forests. This resulted in much violence between these two groups. Although these pull factors were exaggerated and not completely true they still encouraged large-scale migration to New Zealand. In conclusion, there are multiple push and pull factors that resulted in the migration of people from Britain to New Zealand.

The push factors involve the over-population of Britain in the 1800s, the lack of pay people in lower classes received and the poverty and disease that resulted from the rapid urbanisation of Victorian England. The push factors included the ‘fine’ climate, fertile farmland, teeming cities of New Zealand, (all of which was invalid), the free and assisted passages that were offered to lower class citizens and the promises of fertile farmland to all investors in the New Zealand Company. These are the main reasons which enticed people to come to New Zealand and without these migrants New Zealand would not be what it is today.

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