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Shifting Selves: Home beyond the House - A Study of Ageing, Housing and Wellbeing of Older Chinese Migrants to New Zealand

Older Chinese immigrants are one of the largest ethnic ageing groups in New Zealand. However, people‘s everyday experiences of settling in a new and unfamiliar environment have been largely overlooked, particularly for older adults. This research explores the biographies, identities and everyday experiences of filial piety among older Chinese immigrants. Particular consideration is given to the role of filial piety in participants‘ housing and ageing experiences. This research is one of the first explorations of Chinese immigrant ageing in place, which also considers changing enactments of filial piety. The research is informed by a hybrid narrative approach that draws on episodic, go-along and fangtan interview techniques used with 32 older Chinese immigrants in Auckland and Hamilton. Findings support the importance of exploring positive experiences of migration and ageing. Older Chinese immigrants do often experience biographical disruptions and status-discrepancies when they move from China to New Zealand. However, in response, the participants engage in positive activities such as gardening and art as a means of cultivating a new sense of self and place in a new land that is compatible with their existing identities as older Chinese adults. The analysis explores the material-mediated basis for participant adjustment and acculturation. Through adaptive acculturation, older Chinese immigrants‘ abilities for both integrating into the host culture and maintaining their ethnic identities are realised. The analysis also demonstrates that traditional Chinese aged care models of family support with high level of intergenerational co-residence are evolving to encompass practices of filial piety at a distance and to encompass more pluralistic familial living arrangements. The analysis also demonstrates the importance of considering how ageing occurs beyond physical spaces and within cultural, social, relational and imagined landscapes. The analysis shifts away from the focus in existing literature on how older Chinese immigrants are passively transformed into minority subjects to how they are transforming themselves through migration and their efforts to age well in New Zealand.
Type of thesis
Li, W. W. (2011). Shifting Selves: Home beyond the House - A Study of Ageing, Housing and Wellbeing of Older Chinese Migrants to New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5126
University of Waikato
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