Experiences of Belonging for Malay Immigrant Youth in Aotearoa New Zealand: An Interpretive Description Study

Harmi Izzuan, Husna Humaira Binti
Hocking, Clare
Mpofu, Charles
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Bachelor of Health Science (Honours)
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Auckland University of Technology

Although Malay youth have been immigrating to New Zealand since the 1950s, little is known about their experiences of belonging in this country. Experiencing a sense of belonging in one’s community context is important to health and wellbeing. Without a sense of belonging, immigrant youth may struggle to form positive relationships with their peers, family members, and the wider community. A lack of belonging is associated with feeling excluded or marginalised. For these reasons, this interpretive description study will focus on a growing immigrant group within New Zealand's multicultural society known as Malay youth.

Consistent with Wilcock’s assertion that people’s sense of being, belonging and becoming is grounded in what they do, the position taken in this dissertation is that a sense of belonging is developed through engaging in meaningful occupations. Accordingly, this study addressed the question, "How does participation in home- and community-based occupations influence the experiences of belonging in New Zealand for Malay immigrant youth?". Following ethics approval, this research was advertised on various channels that Malay youth accessed, such as community pages, university noticeboards, and school newsletters. Once potential participants expressed their interest, a purposive sampling method was used to select five Malay participants aged 14 to 21. An online focus group discussion was conducted to collect data. Then, thematic analysis techniques were used to analyse the transcribed data. All participants resided in Auckland, New Zealand, when this study was conducted.

The findings of this study uncovered new knowledge concerning the experiences of belonging in New Zealand for Malay immigrant youth. The analysis revealed that participating in shared occupations that enabled Malay immigrant youth to retain their cultural beliefs and values created a positive sense of belonging in their community. This knowledge is reflected in the first theme: Preserving the Home Culture. At times, participants anticipated that joining in with community occupations would conflict with preserving their cultural beliefs and values, so they felt like A Social Outsider in New Zealand’s Youth Culture. To overcome this conflict, the Malay immigrant youth developed alternative ways of joining in with the community, which are reflected in the last theme: Strategies for Belonging.

The knowledge obtained from this study is beneficial for improving healthcare practice as it provides health practitioners with new understandings of belongingness from a cultural perspective. Additionally, this research paves the foundation for future research with the Malay population that can be built upon to enhance information on New Zealand’s multicultural society.

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