German speakers' migration to New Zealand: consequences across three generations

Wohlfart, Irmengard K.
Crezee, Ineke
Nayar, Shoba
Bedford, Richard
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This research explored consequences of contemporary immigration to New Zealand from German-speaking Europe over time and across three generations through Nexus Analysis (Scollon & Scollon 2004), the methodological strategy of Mediated Discourse Studies. In this approach, Engaging the Nexus of Practice is the preparatory stage, Navigating the Nexus of Practice the analytical task; and Changing the Nexus of Practice suggests a new cycle of study and action. The method enabled contextualizing participants’ actions and views within intersecting societal discourses from a social construction perspective in a qualitative study, and testing these findings in a quantitative survey. The study fills the need for research from the perspective of well-settled German speakers and their families in New Zealand.

The qualitative study involved a pilot, followed by a main section involving 32 participants across three generations in three families originally from Austria and Germany. In-depth interviews and observations of daily interactions and special occasions at intervals over nearly four years provided rich data. The data offered powerful and reliable insights into migration motives, expectations and experiences of social and institutional realities in New Zealand, and into transformations of intra- and intergenerational Heimat creation as well as participants’ reflections on living in New Zealand for decades. The concept of Heimat stood out as a theme in participants’ narrative accounts. It functioned as a benchmark for their sense of belonging and safety, cultural maintenance and change. Findings were corroborated in a questionnaire survey yielding 317 replies across three genealogical generations of originally German-speaking immigrants in New Zealand.

The study contributes to international lifestyle migration research through explaining long-term intra- and intergenerational consequences of such lifestyle migration for families. It is significant as the first investigation of this kind in New Zealand, hence contributing to New Zealand migration research and providing important information for New Zealand institutions involved with immigrants. The findings can benefit potential migrants who may not be fully aware of major consequences of such a move. The study is also of interest for European migration research because of the recent substantial increase in long-term skilled migrant arrivals in New Zealand especially from Germany.

Lifestyle migration , Consequences across generations , Nexus analysis , German-speaking migrants , Language shift , Culture shift , New Zealand
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