Full name: Hellenic Republic

Greece was the home to the first Olympic Games,which were held in Olympia in the 7th century BC. In 2004, the Games returned to Greece. Athletes came from 200 countries to compete.

Population: 10,688,058 (July 2006 est.) Immigrants make up about 10% of population.

Capital: Athens.

Religion: 98% Greek Orthodox, 1.3% Muslim, 0.7% other.

Language: Greek (Ellenika) 99%, English is the predominant second language.

Climate: Mediterranean;mild, wet winter and hot, dry summer.

Terrain: Mountainous interior with coastal plains; 1,400 islands.

Government & Political Situation: Republic.

Natural resources: Bauxite, lignite,magnesite, oil,marble.

Number in New Zealand: 4,000.

Cuisine: Some of the unique Greek tastes that are unforgettable are:

Migration to New Zealand: Greek migrants started coming to New Zealand over 100 years ago.The first to arrive came to the gold fields.The 1874 census records 41 Greeks: 40 men and one woman. They were followed by a group of mainly fishermen from the Greek Islands, (Ithaca,  Cephalonia, Lesvos and coastal Arkanania). They settled in coastal areas of New Zealand and most returned to Greece.

Between 1918-1939, records show about 200 immigrants settled in Wellington and others established themselves in small towns around the North Island.They owned and worked in restaurants, cafeterias, fish & chip shops and milk bars.Many stayed on and helped their relatives migrate.

1949 – 1966 saw the greatest number of immigrants arrive because of poor economic conditions in Greece, which was in the throes of Civil War after World War II and because of the labour shortage in New Zealand. They came looking for better opportunities, employment, and education for their children. Many planned to return to Greece with their New Zealand educated family and a few dollars in their pocket. But when their children finished their education, they married and had families of their own. The grandparents stayed because the family was here and to a Greek, family life

is the essence of living. In 1951, 1000 refugees of Greek descent,who had previously fled to Romania, arrived in New Zealand.They spent time in refugee camps in Pahiatua and the South Island until they settled around the country.

Between 1962 – 1964 there was a government-assisted passage for Greek women who were willing to sign a two year contract.They found jobs in hospitals, hotels, boarding houses kitchens and laundries.Most stayed and married within the community. Often one of the migrants would be joined by relatives and in some cases almost an entire village migrated. 

Church and School: There are now three Greek Orthodox churches in Wellington. Social life in the Greek Community is generated around the church, especially for traditional weddings and baptisms. The Greek language school, set up in 1939, is still thriving. The Greek New Zealand

community survives as a close knit one, keeping alive their traditions,music, dance and food.

Did you know?