The first large group of Estonians (116 people) came to New Zealand in June 1949. Since they had arrived in the country with the assistance of the Government of New Zealand, the obligation to work for 2 years applied to every newcomer. Men were for the most part sent to factories and women performed sewing or cleaning jobs.
The largest Estonian communities are in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, Nelson and Queenstown. In 2016, about 200 people born in Estonia lived in New Zealand, as well as over 3 000 people of Estonian heritage.