Across the Tasman: Narratives of New Zealand Migrants to and from Australia, 1965–95.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
New Zealanders are the second biggest migrant group in Australia. During the latter half of the twentieth century growing numbers of Kiwis crossed the Tasman in search of happiness, love, financial success, adventure, and new beginnings. And yet historians have not yet made a qualitative study of this significant migratory trend. Kiwis in Australia are in many ways invisible migrants. This thesis fills the historiographical gap by investigating the personal experiences of New Zealanders who chose to move to Australia from 1965 to 1995. Written and oral narratives provide the sources for studying Kiwi migrants‘ personal motives, experiences and reflections. Migrants‘ narratives reveal what it was like for New Zealanders to decide to leave New Zealand, arrive in Australia, and settle in to their new country. Migration is an ongoing experience; accordingly Kiwis‘ long-term experiences of staying in touch with New Zealand, making Australia home, and returning to New Zealand are also investigated. This thesis argues that New Zealanders in Australia had a migrant experience, even if it was milder than that of other Australian migrant groups. In particular, New Zealand migrants‘ relationships affected, and were affected by migration. Personal narratives highlight that the decision to move country always impacted on migrants‘ connections with family and friends. Migration motives were often based in individuals‘ personal relational situations, and concerns for loved ones. Once in Australia, trans-Tasman networks sustained migrants emotionally but also caused feelings of homesickness. Creating networks with others in Australia was vital in helping migrants find companionship, practical support, and a sense of belonging. For some migrants, the strain of sustaining relationships across the Tasman led them to return to New Zealand. Oral history methodology and narrative analysis are key components of this thesis. Personal narratives not only illuminate migrants‘ private experiences of migration; they also demonstrate that migration is a key decision which influences migrants into the present. This thesis argues that analysing the memories, narrative structure, reflections, and regrets in Kiwi migrants‘ oral histories uncovers how migrants compose life stories which validate their migration decisions and give meaning to their current situation.