Northeast Asian migration: recent change in New Zealand’s international migration system
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15364
This thesis examines the development of international migration from countries in Northeast Asia to New Zealand between 1986 and 1996 in the context of the restructuring of global capitalism. A part of the Fourth Labour Government’s economic restructuring programme was a change in New Zealand’s immigration policy. In 1986 New Zealand followed the example of the other three traditional countries of settlement, Canada, the United States and Australia, in trying to use immigration policy to attract skilled and wealthy immigrants to the country. Using world-systems analysis to illustrate the linkage between movements of people and periodic cycles of crisis and development, this thesis sources data from arrivals and departures records; census data from 1991 and 1996; and survey data from interviews. Statistical analysis is confined to the nationals of four Northeast Asian countries: the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. Survey data draws on insights provided by 42 interviews with participants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. The findings show that a new international migration sub-system had developed in New Zealand by the end of the 1980s aligning the country with Asia and the countries of the Pacific rim more than with its historical sources of migrants in Europe. Population flows from Northeast Asia grew rapidly after the introduction of a points system in 1991. By 1995 a non-traditional source of immigrants, Taiwan, contributed the largest number of new settlers to New Zealand. Nationality rather than country of last or next permanent residence was used to define the population flows. The research revealed significant inaccuracies using the latter classification for net migration. The nature of population flows to New Zealand differed between source countries. Labour force participation rates varied with self-employment higher for the Chinese and Korean immigrants than for New Zealand’s population as a whole. Census and survey data confirmed a considerable number of skilled immigrants were under- and unemployed. The analysis emphasised the need for caution when generalising about the impact of net migration gains and their impact on New Zealand’s population structure and labour force. These results suggest New Zealand needs flexible immigration policy more attuned to the needs of citizens who are part of a transnational circulatory migration process. Stronger government commitment to funding is necessary for informed policy development. As 1998 begins Northeast Asian migration to New Zealand is either at the end of a short-lived “age” or at the beginning of a new “era”. Regardless of short-term fluctuations New Zealand's migration system is firmly embedded in cycles of global capitalism.
The University of Waikato
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