The history of German migrants in New Zealand has only received little attention in historical scholarship, and the few studies that exist argue that the assimilation of German migrants was protracted. This article questions this traditional argument by exploring German associational culture. Ethnic associationalism among migrants helps to investigate the conditions for their assimilation or segregation, and promotes scrutiny of the continuity and discontinuity of ethnicity. The article documents that German associations, by offering coherent structures for organised sociability, were a response to an increasingly evolving colonial society, thus contributing an important new perspective on the experiences of non-British migrants in New Zealand. As sites of memory, German ethnic associations offered continuity with the past, while their interaction with wider colonial society facilitated assimilation. The associations’ activities, particularly as friendly societies, show that Germans were more integrated in New Zealand society than has previously been assumed. They used the same strategies as other migrants groups, ethnic associations could aid assimilation, and were quite successfully integrated in the matrix of New Zealand associational culture.