Is New Zealand the right choice? : the psychological and social factors influencing the decision for German immigrants to New Zealand to stay in New Zealand or to return to Germany : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
This thesis has developed a local theory of German immigration to New Zealand by exploring the experiences of migrants throughout the whole migration process, the particular meaning they assigned to their experiences, and how these experiences were influenced by cultural and historical context. This local theory identifies the psychological and social factors, and the interrelations between them, that contribute to resilience and adaptation or to vulnerability and poor adaptation, and that influence the decision whether to stay in New Zealand or to return to Germany. To gain these insights, this research drew on the theoretical perspectives of the salutogenic paradigm, social interactionism, and social constructionism in narrative theory; and adapted a grounded theory methodology. The study sampled social artifacts, with particular emphasis on actions/interactions, narratives, and answers to concrete questions. Eight German immigrant couples, four who live in New Zealand and decided to stay in New Zealand (stayers) and four who had immigrated to New Zealand, but decided to return to Germany and live now in Germany (returners), were interviewed in-depth via episodic interviews. The interview data was complemented with data from participant observation, the latest census, and the history of German settlement in New Zealand in order to capture the context of the immigration experiences. The data gathered was analysed by using grounded theory analysis strategies. The processes that underpin decisions to migrate, decisions to remain, and decisions to return are discussed. The most important psychosocial process influencing the experiences of German immigrants to New Zealand was 'Living the Dream'. The migration process presented many different and substantial challenges simultaneously. Thus, stress was an inevitable aspect of the migration process. Each sub-phase of the migration process influenced, and was influenced by, individual characteristics and values, beliefs/attitudes, strategies, and the social conditions in Germany, New Zealand, and Britain. These psychosocial factors, in turn, interacted with one another also. Taken together, these psychosocial factors either increased the likelihood of staying or of returning. Regardless of whether German immigrants stayed or returned, dealing with the challenges and the associated stress acted as a force for exhilarated evolvement, which was linked to the characteristics that prompted their initial migration decision. The experiences, interpretations, and outcomes of female and male German immigrants were remarkably similar. However, some gender differences were identified. The study provides detailed recommendations that aim at providing resource structures that assist German immigrants to unfold their potential, to learn as much as possible, and to evolve and adapt.