What data can tell us about the challenges faced by migrants in Aotearoa, New Zealand

By Alexis LewGor, President of Multicultural New Zealand

Media Release   I   03 May 2017

As president of Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ) I am fortunate to be involved in a number of innovative projects that contribute to a positive and inclusive future in Aotearoa.
One such project we have been partnering with Cultural Connections which is New Zealand’s first social enterprise to specialise in migrant research – an important, diverse and changing community who make up 25% of New Zealand’s population.
Cultural Connections is producing really useful data about migrant populations in New Zealand and, in doing so, are able to help organisations like MNZ. See http://www.culturalconnections.co.nz.
Recent research by Cultural Connections has revealed some fascinating insights about the challenges faced by new migrants when they first arrive in New Zealand and how this changes over first couple of years from settlement:

Here are the challenges faced by migrants when they first arrive in New Zealand (from most challenging to least):
1. Employment
2. Cost of living
3. Language and communication
4. Racism and discrimination
5. Housing and accommodation
6. Community support
7. Government support

And here are the challenges faced by migrants after 1-2 years in New Zealand:
1. Cost of living
2. Housing and accommodation
3. Racism and discrimination
4. Employment
5. Community Support
6. Government Support
7. Language and communication


What is positive about this research is that it shows that employment, language and communication issues become less of challenge after first settling in New Zealand. It also shows that community and government support are needed and challenging issues for new or settled migrants. What’s less positive is that after first settling in New Zealand the cost of living, housing, and racism and discrimination become bigger issues. No one should face racism and discrimination in New Zealand and we all have the power to tackle this head on, starting today.

These are just a couple of observations. Part of what Cultural Connections is doing is producing interesting data that gets people talking about issues that affect migrant communities. What does this data tell you?

A key challenge with the research like this is getting a large enough sample size so that the data can be better customised - for example by breaking the information down by ethnicity, employment status, marital status, length of time in New Zealand and so on.

The richer and more textured the data is, the more useful it becomes for organisations like MNZ. For example we can use data to develop evidence-based programmes, better influence policy and public debate, and measure the impact of our work in the community. Ultimately it helps to better advocate and support migrant communities in New Zealand.
To help do this we need more people participating in the research and we are encouraging our members youth and seniors, and anyone born overseas, or has a parent/grandparent born overseas, to join the online panel. The process is straightforward and takes about 10 minutes- see www.culturalconnections.co.nz/survey/.

Multicultural New Zealand is proud to be partnering with Cultural Connections and we look forward to continuing our work together to better understand and support migrant communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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