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Play makes us happy! Listening to the perspectives of Chinese immigrant children and parents about well-being in New Zealand

As the global population of immigrant children increases, the well-being of this group has gained more attention. However, one underrepresented group in academic literature is Chinese immigrant children in New Zealand. This study sought to address this gap, examining their well-being through their own experiences and perspectives, with a specific focus on subjective happiness and its influencing factors. The project is qualitative research, using data from go-along interviews with eight Chinese immigrant children and semi-structured interviews with their parents. The findings indicated that all eight children expressed contentment and satisfaction with their lives in New Zealand, suggesting successful integration into New Zealand society. Additionally, the findings showed that play, friendship, family support, and learning about Chinese culture were significant contributors to the children's well-being. The play emerged as a central theme influencing the well-being of these immigrant children. The children associated their happiness with various aspects of play, including personal play, play with friends, school activities, sports participation, attending interest classes, and learning about Chinese culture. Parents corroborated this sentiment, identifying play as fundamental to their children's physical and mental health. They underscored the importance of personal growth, health, happiness, and the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. While acknowledging the relaxed lifestyle New Zealand offers their children, parents expressed concerns about the quality of math education and their children's capacity to handle future pressures. Reflecting on the future, both children and parents expressed optimistic expectations. However, this study has its limitations. It was conducted with a small sample size, relied on self-reported data, and focused narrowly on Chinese immigrants in Hamilton, during children's go-along interviews no children took photos, and the potential influence of parental religious beliefs was not addressed. These limitations pave the way for future research opportunities. Future research can address these limitations and further explore the role of play in shaping the well-being of Chinese immigrant children. Particularly, it can examine the transition from 'Tiger parenting' to recognizing the importance of play, an initial observation pointed out in this study.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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