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The Maintenance of Group Identity Through Social Networks in the Bay of Plenty Dutch Community

Abel Tasman, a Dutchman, was the first person to put New Zealand on European maps over three hundred years ago (in 1642) and today there are over twenty-eight thousand people living in New Zealand who identify themselves as Dutch and twenty-seven thousand people speaking the Dutch language. Previous research has explored various aspects of Dutch migration, including migrant experiences, culture and language yet only de Bres (2004) compares the experiences of Dutch immigrants across time periods of their arrival. Cultural retention and maintenance has mainly been assessed via the use of the Dutch language rather than through other methods, such as Dutch customs and social networks. The main reason for this research is to compare the experiences and cultural identity of the three 'waves' of Dutch migrants, which has not been undertaken before. This study interviewed six Dutch settler families living in the Bay of Plenty, from three time-periods (1950s; 1960s to 1980s; and 1990s to today) and across generations in order to compare their experiences and assess if and how they maintain their Dutch identity through their use of customs and social networks. Open-ended questionnaires and interview schedules were used to interview the sixteen participants. Content analysis was undertaken for the majority of the questionnaire and interview schedules. For the remaining questions that focused on social networks, the structural aspects of the social support for participants were measured in terms of the social network characteristics, size, density and multiplexity. The study found an overall retention of Dutch identity across all time-periods for generation one (generation one refers to the migrating parents) with all families using the Dutch language within their own homes, yet only one family maintaining their Dutch identity through social networks and only one family maintaining their Dutch identity through the use of customs. The second and third generation participants have little to no interest or involvement in the Dutch culture or community. One second generation participant considered herself Dutch-Kiwi, with the remaining second generation participants considering themselves New Zealanders. Only one person from the third generation participated and she identified herself as a Dutch-Kiwi. Overall, this study supports the perception of the 'invisible Dutch' however due to the small sample size it is impossible to make conclusive statements concerning the Bay of Plenty Dutch community. There is a limited amount of research comparing the experiences of Dutch migrants and how their cultural identity is maintained through their social networks; therefore further research is required to fill this gap.
Type of thesis
Webster, K. L. (2007). The Maintenance of Group Identity Through Social Networks in the Bay of Plenty Dutch Community (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2335
The University of Waikato
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