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New Zealand’s super-diverse future is already here

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It’s our responsibility to understand, welcome and connect with new migrants. 

It is a certain type of person who decides to leave their country to set up home in another. When we immersed ourselves in the lives of our new migrants in the Listening Project, we uncovered four key tensions that they face.

Understanding these tensions allows us to shape and craft how and what we talk about in a way that is more nuanced, relevant and resonant.

#1. Permanence vs. Impermanence

A strong desire for stability – yet living in limbo due to needing to pass hurdles towards permanent settlement.

Permanence: permanence is marked through small steps achieved to create stability. These include things like gaining a work/student visa, successfully bringing family over from their home country, gaining full time employment and then permanent residency.

Impermanence: the hurdles to achieving permanence include the lack of New Zealand experience to gain full time employment (even if migrants have arrived with permanent residency) or gaining full time employment that doesn’t meet the criteria for permanent residency.

How companies can help:

Marking and celebrating migrants' milestones is a way companies can align with their journey.

#2. Sacrifice vs. Optimism

Forgoing a great deal – yet determination for a better future.

Sacrifice: leaving family and a strong social network or an established career are some of the sacrifices felt to be made in moving to New Zealand. Once here, setting up can be hard and the surprisingly high cost of living (particularly in Auckland) often restricts migrants' activities and purchases.

Optimism: despite the sacrifices made, new migrants are incredibly optimistic and confident that sacrifices now lead to the life they want in the future (a life that includes social freedom, political stability, safety and a work balance).

How companies can help:

Reflecting what migrants love about New Zealand in products and services; reaffirming their beliefs about the country they now call home demonstrates empathy.

#3. Welcome vs. Unwelcome

Friendliness on the street – yet this is only surface level.

Welcome: the strangers migrants meet on the street and people in the shops are warm and welcoming. Kiwis are felt to be laid back and nice people.

Unwelcome: however, new migrants find the task of making friends and forming close bonds extremely difficult. Additionally, mainstream media and the government send messages that migrants are feared, not valued.

How companies can help:

Be the brand they feel they know and demonstrate warmth towards migrants – celebrate and acknowledge what they bring to NZ.

#4. Success vs. Failure

Striving for a great life in New Zealand – yet grappling with the fear of failure.

Success: success for new migrants is a life with less hardship, more opportunities (for them and their children), more leisure time and a more egalitarian society.

Failure: to not make it in New Zealand would be felt on many levels, including financially (many have invested all their savings into coming to New Zealand), socially (the social pressure to succeed felt from their home country) and personally (returning would be a personal failure).

How companies can help:

Provide practical support but also guide new migrants on ways to enrich, explore and authentically experience New Zealand life.

The Listening Project: New New Zealanders is TRA’s 4th immersive research project. It follows NZ’s new migrants to truly understand their whole world as they settle into their new lives as Kiwis. The Listening Project: New New Zealanders was carried out by Antonia Mann, Vanisha Narsey and Colleen Ryan. 

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