Experiences in managing, challenging and identifying with New Zealand Indian ethnic identities

Vallabh, Malti
Poata-Smith, Evan
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Statistics from the 2006 Census suggest that although a significant number of Indians are born in New Zealand, they still identify strongly with their ancestral country of origin. Yet the specific nature of how New Zealand born and raised Indians perform and practice their ethnicity is fluid, dynamic and malleable. This study aims to explore the conceptions of contemporary Indian identities in New Zealand using a qualitative research design. Semi-structured interviews are conducted on a sample of New Zealand born Gujarati Indians to explore the personal views of participants, their experiences of life in New Zealand, travels to India and their own accounts of Indian-ness and the way that those identities are negotiated and renegotiated on a daily basis. Using a combination of snowball sampling and purposive sampling, interview data from both male and female participants from the North Island region of New Zealand between the ages of 18-30 years is used. The findings from the thematic analysis of the data indicate the sometimes problematic and conflicting ways in which identifying boundaries for contemporary Indian identities are shaped and reshaped within different contexts and/or interactions. Findings also demonstrate that characteristics of “being Indian” for this group of participants are largely shaped and influenced by their families, food, religion and upbringing.

New Zealand Indian , Ethnic identities , Ethnicity , Contemporary Indian identities
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