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Living in two worlds. Challenges facing Pacific communities: The case of Fijians in New Zealand

Living in two worlds is an insider perspective of how indigenous Pacific Immigrant communities, in this specific case Fijian's living in New Zealand face the challenges of living two cultures in a developed country like New Zealand. The quest to hold on to one's indigenous culture while adapting to another, in order to survive the realities of everyday circumstances can be a complicated struggle. The main objective of this research was to collate and analyze information from Fijian families who migrated to New Zealand from 1970's to the mid 1980's with reference to the challenges they faced. In order to understand such constant struggles there are underlying questions and factors that should be considered. For example - why do people continue to be conservative about their cultural identities or how do they react to unfamiliar challenges in a multicultural society. Another could be - what influences have been seen in order for their children to recognize their indigenous identity. Comparable factors that will bring to other aspects of living in two worlds which would be considered were socio-economic issues, higher education, technological advancement, immigration policies, development constraints and quality of living standards. Fijians and other indigenous Pacific people have through the years gained the ultimate will to defend their cultural and traditional identity whilst living in a world of western values and culture. Coupled with this have been the complexities of holding on to the values of both worlds. As this project probed into these newly rediscovered stories about journeys to their new homeland filled with opportunities, capitalism or westernization had never withered their passion and dreams as Pacific people to better themselves. They also enjoyed the luxury of both worlds as conservators of Pacific cultures and exploiters of technological advancement filled with huge dreams, opportunities and better standards of living. Fijians have the smallest population of Pacific people in New Zealand when compared to Samoa, Tonga, and Cook Islanders. There were relatively small number of Fijians who arrived after the end of World War 2 and they were basically employed in farms, forestry work stations and industrial areas. Others were in New Zealand on government scholarships, training or internship and work experience programs. Most of these people returned home while a very small proportion stayed behind. In the early 1970's and 1980's there was also an influx of seasonal workers in the Central North Island areas including Hawkes Bay, Tokoroa and the Waikato region. Most people were recruited from the Pacific Islands including Fiji because of their hard working attitude and cheap labour margins. When their term was completed some decided to stay and work, eventually residing legally and permanently with their families. Another group of men came via Wellington by boat, destined to become maintenance and repair workers. (bound for maintenance and repair work and ) but were left stranded when the shipping company ownership changed. The dock and maritime workers union fought for the case stating the government on humanitarian grounds should provide them with employment and residency status. After an extensive legal struggle, which lasted almost seven years these early Fijian workers and their families were granted work and residency permits. The (remaining) other families came as visitors or through marriage links and were granted work and residency permits. The 1996 statistics (Statistics New Zealand, Census 1996) stated that Fijians were the most highly skilled and educated Pacific Island population in New Zealand. These statistics had been directly influenced by the latest influx of well educated and highly qualified Fijians who arrived in the late 1990's. The research will also highlight whether those who arrived before this latest influx faced the same challenges. These challenges will be compared to those faced by the generation of Fijians and Pacific people who were born and bred in New Zealand.
Type of thesis
Vunidilo, K. (2006). Living in two worlds. Challenges facing Pacific communities: The case of Fijians in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Māori and Pacific Development (MMPD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2307
The University of Waikato
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