Deciding to migrate: Stories of African immigrant women living in New Zealand
Keywords:migration, narrative methods, African people, women, cultural competence
INTRODUCTION: With migratory movements of people increasing worldwide cultural competence is becoming a key social work capability. One aspect of cultural competence includes an appreciative understanding of new migrants reasons for migration. The immigration of black African people to New Zealand is a relatively recent phenomenon because, historically, immigration policy favoured people of British origin. This article aims to explore the experiences and motivations of black African women who were recent migrants to New Zealand.
METHOD: The study used a purposive sample of 15 black African women migrants aged between 21 and 60 years. The women were all recent migrants from Africa having resided in New Zealand for a period of between one and five years. Data was collected using semistructured interviews and a narrative methodology based on Africentric philosophy.
FINDINGS: For most of the women in the study migration was a positive choice made in order to secure educational and career opportunities for themselves and their children. For some there were also push factors in the form of political and economic instability in their countries of origin. Relationships with family and friends already living in New Zealand were also significant motivational factors.
CONCLUSION: Social workers in New Zealand need an appreciative understanding of the culture and history of new migrants, but also of their aspirations and motivations for setting out on an epic journey for them and their families. This article offers insights into the motivations and aspirations of a group of recent black African women migrants, and challenges some common assumptions.
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