More about the first Norwegians in New Zealand (with link to the identified graves at Norsewood Cemetery)

Mural in Norsewood

Like many other cultures in foreign countries, the settlers in New Zealand had social gatherings.

South of Norsewood, in the Wairarapa area, there was annually held “ring rider parties” with competitions that showed the participants’ skills in different ways.

Read also: Norwegian emigrants to New Zealand

In Mauriceville the Sunday evenings were celebrated with dances to the music from the Danish fiddler Jens Larsen. His fiddle was made of local wood and they swung themselves in polka, waltz and mazurka. The youth danced until dawn and walked home just to change into work clothes and start the new day.

Read also: From Norway to New Zealand with the boat Høvding (with the listings of passengers and emigrants)


The Norwegian language was used daily in Norsewood right up to the 1920s, but most of the settlers were eager to be considered real New Zealanders. As the immigrants moved on to other areas, they also needed to communicate with the rest of New Zealand’s population. The Norwegian language died slowly out. Remains of the language exist today only as last names, street names and on burial sites.

The burial site in Norsewood is the largest Scandinavian grave site in the southern hemisphere.

You can see list of the identified graves here.