Pacific Islander migration patterns set to be studied | Pacific Beat

Pacific Islander migration patterns set to be studied

Pacific Islander migration patterns set to be studied

Updated 23 September 2013, 11:15 AEST

It appears more than ever, people are packing their bags and finding a new country to call home.

A United Nations report has found Asia has seen the largest increase of international migrants over the past decade, while the United States is still the most popular destination.

New figures show that 232 million people live abroad worldwide, compared with 175 million in 2000.

The UN study was released at the same time the Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, awarded a scholarship for a student to investigate the migration of young Pacific Islanders to Asia.

For New Zealand-born Pacific Islander Rachel Yates a trip to South Korea in 2009 was the chance to discover a new culture and a new way of life.

Gathering herself and heading from her home in Wellington to the outskirts of Seoul was seen as the ultimate adventure.

However, she quickly found despite travelling more than 10,000 kilometres, there were a few things quite similar between the two countries.

Reporter:  Brendan Arrow

Speaker:  Rachel Yates


RACHEL YATES: It was my first week in, I had made contact with a girl from Wellington contacted through rugby. She just took me out and walking down the street in the foreign district, walking down that street there was about 30 Islanders and when they saw me they new immediately. They just approached me and said where are you from? I said I'm from Wellington. They said oh cool what are you? I said I'm Samoan. And then it kind of just took off from there. They were so crucial to my time there having that support network of Pacific Islanders there, but it was the last thing I expected. I didn't go to Asia to hangout with Pacific Islander, I went there to do something different.

ARROW: While Ms Yates enjoyed her time abroad, she says eventually the call to come home became to loud to ignore. It was then she began wondering if meeting the her fellow Pacific Islanders in South Korea was by chance of if something else was going on.

YATES: I came back and did my honours in 2012 and that's when the whole thinking and theorising about migration, specifially skilled migration started. When I came back my lecturer was really interested in me exploring that whole experience I had and trying to make sense of it.

ARROW: While doing her initicial research Ms Yates found in the past Pacific migration studies had focused on Pacific Islanders travelling to New Zealand and Australia, and not about those who leave New Zealand for other opportunities. She says by focussing on her experience in South Korea she hopes to get a better understanding of what motivates Pacific Islander to migrate.

YATES: Yeah I think various things about it, make it very inviting for Pacific Islanders. It is a whole new place where you are away from your family, so you can kind of be who ever you want to be, but you still have that support network of people who understand you. And the Asian culture as well we could related to on a complete different level to say my American co-workers. The whole experience itself was awesome , but I think it was just so many various factors and really complex things that came together to make it a positive experience.

ARROW: Ms Yates says she expects her PhD to take three year to complete but hopes it will motivate other New Zealand Pacific Islanders to study and travel abroad.

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