The last census put the figure of Maltese people resident in NZ at 222. There have never been huge numbers of Maltese in New Zealand, but we can trace the first one to within the first decade after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - which is the document that the British Crown signed with the indigenous Maori, and now forms the basis of our nation. In a study that Mark Caruana and I co-ordinated some years ago, the earliest Maltese man we have discovered was Angelo Parigi:
He is listed at St Patrick’s Church in Auckland as having married 16-year-old RoseAnne McMullen on 4 July 1849. He was described as “a boatman born in Malta”. Others followed including a James Cassar for whom some letters remained unclaimed at the Auckland Post Office in 1864. In 1883, Francesco Saverio de Cesare, who you will know was tasked by the Government in Malta to assess the “suitability of the British Colonies in Australia as a field for Maltese Migration” reported that:
“At Auckland I met three Maltese, there settled for several years, and at Tauranga another one, employed as a cook; they are doing well; and have no idea of returning to Malta. They told me there are some other Maltese, whom they know, settled in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.”
Since these times there have been small groups of Maltese who came out in drip and drabs, some after the first and second world wars, some jumping ship from British naval vessels, and others under a limited annual assisted quota system. Over these times there have also been those who arrived in NZ via Australia - after they saw the light!
In 1989, a small group of Maltese formed the Maltese Association of Wellington (later incorporated ) on 29 June (Mnarja). I was founding president.
Source: Dr. Carmen Dalli