Naturalization in New Zealand


Aliens Naturalisation in Wellington 1840 to 1899

We have put on  line   the records for Wellington City  1840 to 1899 only. But will do look-ups for other districts and years on request.


Naturalization in New Zealand

From early records it is evident that laws whose aim was "to impart the privileges of Natural born British subjects to Aliens inhabiting the Colonies" were in existence in New Zealand from the early 1840's. Although these laws were applied in New Zealand and other British colonies it was soon found that they were invalid. It had been assumed that, because there was such an act on the British Statute Books, this act and the rights it conferred on resident aliens could be extended to similar activities in the colonies.

The legal eagles of the crown determined that the manner in which these laws were being applied in the colonies were," in serveral respects at variance with and repugnant to those Acts of Parliament" and as such "it was inferred that such colonial Enactments were null and void either in whole or in part". In other words Naturalizations that had occurred up to September 1847 when the act was extended to include the colonies were deemed invalid.

In order to avoid messy administrative difficulties and clarify things for the new citizens of the colony, the act also gave "validity to all Colonial Naturalization Acts formerly passed, and to declare that they shall be taken to have been valid from the time of their enactment" With a stroke of the Parliamentary pen illegal becomes legal and wrong is made right. A conjuring trick indeed.

Naturalization was achieved for persons "of good repute" by making approaches to the Governor in writing offering evidence as to: name, age, birthplace, residence, occupation and length of residence in New Zealand. In addition they were to state their desire to settle in New Zealand, "praying that letters of naturalization may be granted to him..."

Naturalization could be granted by a Supreme or District Court Judge, a Resident Magistrate or a Justice of the Peace. At this time the Applicant was required to recite the Oath of Allegiance after which, all things being equal, they would be issued "Letters of Naturalization". Such letters gave the Applicant "...all the rights and capacities which a natural-born subject of the United Kingdom can enjoy."

Other interesting aspects of the Act were:
1) The wife of a successful applicant was deemed to have taken the Oath of Naturalization herself.
2) A residential alien who was not naturalized was only able to own land within the Colony for a period of 21 years.
3) A person born to a mother who was a natural-born subject of the United Kingdom had the rights and considerations of of a natural-born subject.
4) The Colonial Secretary was responsible for maintaining a record of naturalizations and for collecting a fee of �1.00 "from every person to whom such letters were granted."

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