"Maybe because we are too Chilean" : stories of migration from Hispanic women living in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
Worldwide, immigrants are significantly more likely to develop health and
mental health issues compared to host and home populations. Very little is known about
this phenomenon from a qualitative perspective, especially among diverse ethnic
minority immigrant cultures within a New Zealand context. This study examines the
experiences of Hispanic immigrant women living in New Zealand, specifically looking
at identity and meaning making. Seven interviews were conducted, transcribed, and
analyzed using narrative analysis.
Findings revealed participants drew from the “ethnic identity” and “role
identity” narratives to construct identities. Through identities, participants connected
with others, providing a sense of belonging. In moving and adapting to New Zealand,
identities were compromised, lost, or re-adjusted. If identities were not adjusted to meet
a new demand, participants did not connect or obtain a sense of belonging towards
others and/or New Zealand.
In meaning making, participants constructed New Zealand as facilitating and
validating, enabling access to resources through trust, and validation as individuals
within a sense of security. Participants initially felt lonely in New Zealand, needing
connections with others beyond their partners. The concept and expectations of
friendships needed reconstruction, where Kiwi friends are constructed as temporary,
have more personal boundaries and are less accessible and physical towards one
another. Participants also found understanding the Kiwi accent a challenge if previously
exposed to other English accents.
Some participants constructed experiencing depression as part of the migration
process, where “keeping busy” became a helpful coping mechanism. Participants also
validated their experiences through comparisons with others they perceived as
“normal”. This was helpful in normalizing challenges, and providing an expectation for
personal future outcomes. Lastly, participants constructed Migration as a cognitive
process, empowering the migrant as responsible for their migration outcome through the
process of choice making.
This research revealed specifically what and how cultural differences impact
Hispanic women who have migrated to New Zealand, and the complexity of migration
as an internal cognitive process with expected negative outcomes such as depression.
Being a novel area of research, this study illustrates the potential knowledge that can be
gained from future research into immigrant populations using qualitative methods.