Report on Pacific people in NZ unlikely to affect immigration
An academic says a report showing the dire economic situation for Pacific people living in NZ is unlikely to have any effect on migration rates to the country.
An academic says she doesn't think a report showing the dire situation for Pacific people living in New Zealand will have any effect on Pacific migration to the country.
The Salavation Army this week released a report that says Pacific people have the highest unemployment, the lowest incomes and a widening income gap that could mean they're left behind when the economy recovers.
But a senior lecturer in Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, Teresia Teaiwa, told Jamie Tahana people don't always think of these kinds of things when they choose to migrate, and prefer to look at the positives.
TERESA TEAIWA: One of the things we need to understand is that the choice to migrate is not always a rational one. People migrate with hope and aspiration, not with certitude. And I think the other thing to take into account when people are weighing up factors in their decisions to migrate, one of the things some Pacific will be thinking is, those statistics are based largely on a New Zealand-born population. And migrants often have a sense that they will work hard and they feel they're prepared to make sacrifices. And another thing is a lot of migrants come not thinking they're coming to an easy life. They're expecting it to be hard but they're willing to make an investment so that future generations in their family won't have to work as hard.
JAMIE TAHANA: So are they making sacrifices? Is it turning out better?
TT: You won't see it immediately. This report, it's desegregating things by ethnicity, but it's not really telling us how many of these people are first-generation migrants or second-generation migrants, you know? We're not able to get a sense of that texture from a report. But I think that enough families are seeing their aspirations achieved, even if it's in a few of their family members. I think enough people are seeing this aspiration fulfilled to make it seem like it's worth the move.
JT: You mentioned first and fifth generations - does that really matter in the whole scheme of things?
TT: Well, I think it does matter in terms of what people's expectations are, whether people expect things of the government or not. So I think people who've been here longer do have a sense of themselves as citizens, whereas the newer migrants are often just kind of grateful to be here.
JT: How do we change this? How do we keep that work ethic up?
TT: My sense from the report, especially around education, although there's some really dismal statistics, we're seeing some improvement. And as they said in the report, the participation rates at tertiary level are increasing. That's really promising for Pacific people. If you consider that Pacific people in large numbers have only been in this country for maybe two or three generations, things take time. Clearly we have some economic and political conditions which continue to disadvantage Pacific people. And I think this report helps raise those issues and hold government accountable.
JT: And how much does culture come into play?
TT: There are certainly cultural factors. It does take a lot of adjustment for new migrants, that cultural norms of behaviour aren't easily changed. As someone who migrated here myself, I didn't do my research before I came. An opportunity was presented to me and I came.
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