Croatian New Zealanders

Ministry for Culture and Heritage Māori people Villa Maria Estates
Croatian-New Zealanders
Total population
2,550[1] – 100,000 (est.)[2]
New Zealand English, Croatian
predominantly Roman Catholic

Croatian New Zealanders refers to New Zealand citizens of Croatian descent. There are 2,550 people who declared their nationality as Croats in the 2006 New Zealand census.[1] The majority of these are located primarily in and around Auckland and Northland with small numbers in and around Canterbury and Southland.[3] It is estimated that over 100,000 New Zealanders have Croatian ancestry.[2]

The (generally neutral but sometimes mildly derogatory) term Dally or Dallie (short for Dalmatian) is often used in New Zealand to refer to people of Croatian descent.[4] The term has been wholeheartedly adopted by Croatian New Zealanders, among them the Auckland-based Dalmatian Cultural Society.[5] Founded in 1930, it is New Zealand's longest-surviving Croatian cultural organisation. A further neutral term, Tarara (literally, "fast talkers"), is used to refer to people of mixed Croatian–Māori heritage.[6]


The earliest Croatian settlers in New Zealand date from the 1860s, largely arriving as sailors and pioneers, and as gold miners and prospectors during the Otago Gold Rush. The first person born in New Zealand of Croatian descent was Leander Thomas Pavletich in 1864.[7] After the gold rush many moved to Northland attracted by kauri gum-digging, then a major source of income for Northland Māori and settlers.[8] These early Dalmatian settlers were also responsible in large part for establishing the New Zealand wine industry.[9] Forced off the kauri gumfields many moved into viticulture and winemaking instead, mainly in West Auckland around Kumeu, and in the Hawke's Bay region.[10][11] Croatian family names such as Selak, Nobilo, Šoljan, Babich and Delegat still feature amongst the names of New Zealand's notable wineries, and two of the largest in New Zealand, Montana Wines (now Brancott Estate) and Villa Maria Estates, were established in the mid-20th century respectively by Croatian New Zealanders Ivan Yukich and Sir George Fistonich.[11][4]

Croatian settlers have arrived in five main waves:[12]

In July 2008, 800 people attended a celebration of 150 years of Croatian settlement in New Zealand hosted by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter.[2]

Notable Croatian New Zealanders

James Belich
Frana Cardno
Shane Jones
Abby Erceg
Marina Erakovic















Motor sport


Rugby League




Fictional Croatian New Zealanders



  1. ^ a b Walrond, Carl (8 February 2005). "Dalmatians – Page 7. Facts & figures". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Carter: NZ Celebrates 150 Years Of Kiwi-Croatian Culture". Voxy. Digital Advance Limited. July 30, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  3. ^ Jelicich, Stephen (2008). From distant villages: the lives and times of Croatian settlers in New Zealand, 1858-1958. Auckland: Pharos Publications. ISBN 9780473130299.
  4. ^ a b Barton, Warren (6 December 2010). "Saluting Selaks: Let's drink to the 'Dallies'". The Southland Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  5. ^ Dalmatian Cultural Society official website
  6. ^ Walrond, Carl (1 March 2015). "Dalmatians – Page 6. Dalmatian culture". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Mrs Thomas Pavletich, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  8. ^ Walrond, Carl (24 September 2007). "Kauri gum and gum digging – Page 2. The gum diggers". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  9. ^ Mabbett, Jason (April 1998). "The Dalmatian influence on the New Zealand wine industry: 1895–1946". Journal of Wine Research. 9 (1): 15–25. doi:10.1080/09571269808718130. ISSN 0957-1264.
  10. ^ "Kumeu Wine Region". Wine-Searcher. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b Dalley, Bronwyn (24 November 2008). "Wine – Page 2. Migrant groups and the wine industry". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  12. ^ Jelicich, Stephen; Trlin, Andrew (1997). "Croatian". Book & Print in New Zealand: A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa. Wellington: Victoria University Press. Retrieved 2009-08-13 – via New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.
  13. ^ Herkt, David (21 August 2014). "Maria Dallas Profile". AudioCulture. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  14. ^ "'Kia ora lady' made Dame Companion". Stuff. 30 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  15. ^ "The Story of the Mother of God Brothers". Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Famous People with Croatian Heritage – Part 2". Croatia Week. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2020.