Newspaper report paints grim picture of life for Pacific Island families in Auckland

Pacific Islanders are facing an uphill battle to make it in Auckland, with dreams of financial independence fading as pay packets stay below the Auckland average according to a new report in the Guardian.

The report, by Eleanor Ainge Roy, which appeared in the prestigious UK publication yesterday, paints a grim picture.

It describes ‘the New Zealand dream’ pursued by many Pacific migrants as ‘illusory.’

“Pacific parents used to bring up their children to be doctors and nurses,” the Guardian reported.

“Now migrant parents just aim for them to get a job.”

It said Auckland was struggling to provide adequate housing, transport and social services for Pacific families, who make up 15 percent of Auckland’s population.

The median age of Islanders in Auckland is just 22.6 years. They show up in disproportionately often in statistics in unemployment, low income and health indicators.

Although older Islanders are beginning to “boomerang” home with their New Zealand pensions, the same is not true for younger migrants, who frequently describe their island homes as “boring” and “slow”.

The report said overcrowding was a deeply rooted problem, as new arrivals stayed with relatives.

This was happening against a background of increasing costs of living and families have been found living in garages, tents and shipping containers.

For older Islanders, Auckland is very much home.

Meleane Mafi, 85, told the Guardian: “My family is here, so my life is here.”

“There’s no more life left in Tonga. Just plant, eat and repeat.”

According to the 2013 census, Tongans make up the second largest part of the 200,000 Pacific Islanders live in Auckland.

Many older Islanders return to the Islands  with their New Zealand pensions.

However, according to the Guardian younger migrants are less likely to return and were reported as describing  their island homes as “boring” and “slow.”

Wesley Talaimanu, the executive director of Fonua Ola, a social support agency told the Guardian younger Island migrants faced problems because of a lack of skills, easy credit, alcohol and drugs.

“Migrants come and they see they can get a car, free credit, state housing, and that is really attractive. But it’s so easy to fall into a cycle of poverty, and after that crisis is never far away,” Talaimanu said.

The main points

  • Pacific Islanders are facing an uphill battle to make it in Auckland, with dreams of financial independence fading as pay packets stay below the Auckland average according to a new report in the Guardian.
  • The report, by Eleanor Ainge Roy, which appeared in the prestigious UK publication yesterday, paints a grim picture.
  • It describes ‘the New Zealand dream’ pursued by many Pacific migrants as ‘illusory.’

For more information

Has the ‘New Zealand dream’ turned sour for Auckland’s Pacific Islanders?

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