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Novara Band 6 – Migration Happens. Reasons, Effects and Opportunities of Migration in the South Pacific.



Migration is a global phenomenon that did not just emerge in the 21st century. It is perceived by many as a constant source of problems and threats. This notion is propagated by politicians, among others, who use migrants for to further their own political ideologies. Due to economic and security developments globally, migration is beset by increasing ethnical conflicts and restrictive immigration policies. This in turn creates heightened difficulties for migrants. But it also generates new life situations, shapes lives and reshapes identities. The region of the South-Pacific is no exception. Considering conflicts in recent years, the issue of migration in this area exemplifies the contestation over migration.

This book provides an overview on migration issues in the South-Pacific. Issues such as gender, the historical aspects and the history of migration in the Pacific, migration and conflicts, challenges of second generation migrants as well as the situation of Indians after the coup in Fiji are addressed in this volume of the NOVARA- Contributions of Research in the Pacific.


  1. Preface
  2. Parvati Raghuram -Dis/Placing Migration Theories
  3. Grant McCall – Migration in Oceania: A Quick Overview of the Settlement and Continuing Occupation of an Acquatic Continent
  4. John Connell and Carmen Voigt-Graf – Towards Autonomy? Gendered Migration in Pacific Island Countries
  5. Hermann Mückler – Unwanted Neighbours: Implications, Burdens and the Instrumentalization of Migration: relations between American Samoa and the Republic of Samoa.
  6. Deborah Gough – Mobility, Tradition and Adaptation: Samoa’s Comparative Advantage in the Global Market Place
  7. Cluny Macpherson – Pacific Peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand: From Sojourn to Settlement
  8. Richard Bedford and Elsie Ho – New Zealand: A Country of Immigration and Emigration
  9. Manoranjan Mohanty, Mahendra Reddy, Vijay Naidu – International Migration, Human Capital Loss and Development in the South Pacific: The Case of Fiji
  10. Deborah Oxley – Peopling the Pacific with Prisoners: The transportation of women to Australia
  11. Abstracts
  12. List of contributors
  13. Index of Maps


Parvati Raghuram
Dis/placing Migration Theories

In this chapter I explore some aspects of contemporary migration theory. I address these theories primarily through the different scales at which they operate through the global, to the strategies of the meso-scale and the insights of the micro-scale. I argue that the latter are most well developed in theories that reflect on the experiences of longer settled migrants. The paper concludes by outlining some lacunae in current theorisations and what future theorisations should ideally address.

Grant McCall
Mirgation in Oceania: A Quick Overview of the Settlement and Continuing Occupation of an Aquatic Continent

Oceania is a place of continuous movement, from exploration and settlement, by indigenous and subsequent inhabitants. Contemporary Pacific Islander migration to metropoles, principally the USA, New Zealand and Australia, with smaller numbers in Chile and some scattered individuals in European countries, is a continuation of this movement. The main theme, following Epeli Hau‘ofa’s influential formulation of the “sea of islands” is that water was not a barrier and that Pacific Islanders were Pacific Oceanians, inhabiting the sea as much as they inhabit the land. Whether sailing on the sea in canoes or above it in commercial airliners, Pacific Oceanians have ever been in charge of their destinies, inhabiting in sparse numbers one-third of planet earth.. As well as Pacific Islanders moving around and out of their Oceanic world, there are others from elsewhere who have moved in, to increase some parts of the complexity of the Pacific Islands. Some comment is made about climate refugees and their options of movement.

Carmen Voigt-Graf, John Connell
Towards Autonomy? Gendered Migration in Pacific Island Countries

Though reliable statistics are scarce and the issue has largely been overlooked in Pacific migration research, the Pacific Islands are increasingly important source and destination countries for female migrants, in addition to continuing internal migration flows. From an inflow of Chinese women working in Fiji’s garment factories and as prostitutes, of Pacific Island women joining their husbands under family migration schemes in Australia, to female doctors and teachers migrating to the Pacific Rim, the migration flows of women in the Pacific are manifold and diverse. This chapter will provide an overview of the diverse background of female migrants and the nature of their migration flows, their situation and entitlements in the receiving countries and the impact of their migration, all of which are highly diverse. It will examine changes over a quarter of a century.

Hermann Mueckler
The Unwanted Neighbours: Implications, Burdens and the Instrumentalization of Migration: relations between American Samoa and the Republic of Samoa.

Social, political and economic relations of Pacific Islanders are often characterized by the establishment and exercise of forms of regular contact between islands, mostly between islands in the center and the periphery. Not only economic factors but also tribute, marriage an ritual are some of the reasons for the maintenance of such contacts in small island states which create responsiblities and burdens beside the benefits. This article draws on some apsects of a predominatly conflictloaded though often historically based relationship and questions the necessity of traditional ties in a modern world. With the example American Samoa (Polynesia) the key conditions, motives and consequences, as well as changed framework conditions are discussed

Deborah Gough
Mobility, Tradition, Adaptation: Samoa’s Comparative Advantage in the Global Market Place

In an economic environment dominated by neo-liberal policies Samoa strives to carve out a niche. In order to do so it needs to exploit areas of comparative advantage. This paper argues that Samoa already utilises such a competitive advantage: by selling their labour across a vast diaspora Samoans already engage successfully in the world economy. Moreover, it will be argued that traditional practices, and an ease of mobility based on historical and cultural connections, provide the framework for this exploitation. By participating in Samoan life across the diaspora Samoans reinforce their relationships and fulfil their obligations. Concurrently they reproduce the social relations that strengthen culture. By doing both they demonstrate their competitive advantage in a neo-liberal world and take a step closer to a sustainable future.

Cluny Macpherson
Pacific Peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand: From Sojourn to Settlement

Two ‘waves‘ of Pacific people have settled in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The first left islands in Eastern Polynesia some 900 years and became the indigenous Maori population. The Maori explored and settled the islands, and formed a number of tribal nations which remained largely undisturbed until the lands were re-discovered by European explorers in the late 18th century. Small numbers of Polynesian and Melanesian people arrived throughout 19th century as missionary trainees, sailors and spouses. Some remained, but many either moved on, or returned to their homes.

The second ‘wave’ of Pacific settlement commenced after the Second World War as a consequence of demand for labour which resulted from the restructuring of the New Zealand economy. Between 1945 and 2001 the Pacific population grew from 2400 to 232.000, as Polynesian people from Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Cook and Tokelau Islands, and smaller numbers of people from Fiji, Kiribas, Tuvalu and French Polynesia, moved to the country in search of wage employment in a developing industrial economy. As the New Zealand economy was again restructured between 1984 and 2000, the demand for labour from the Pacific declined and in-migration slowed dramatically. This in turn, had profound effects on the Pacific population in New Zealand. It now comprises distinctive ‘island-born’ and New Zealand-born sub-populations of approximately equal sizes. Each has different biographies and experiences and significant differences between the overseas and New Zealand-born populations are emerging.

The chapter focuses on the latter ‘wave’ and the current socio-economic and demographic status of the Pacific population in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It considers some factors which have produced the Pacific population’s sociodemographic characteristics, and those which are likely to transform these in the next 20 years. The first section traces the circumstances of the migration and settlement over the period from 1950 to the present and uses various socio-demographic data to look forward. The second section reviews some ethnographic data from a thirty-five year study of Samoan migration to track some of the central cultural and organisational transformations in one of the Pacific populations.

Richard Bedford, Elsie Ho
New Zealand: A Country of Immigration and Emigration

The paper traces the developments in migration to New Zealand since the major Immigration Policy Review in 1986, and examines some of the debates that have surrounded the significant in-flows under the new policy regime, especially from southeast Asia in the late 1980s, northeast Asia in the 1990s, and more recently from south Asia since 2000. The flows of migrants from different parts of Asia to New Zealand represent a very significant development in the country’s migration system, and they have posed some major challenges for both the host society (especially in the largest city, Auckland) as well as for our immigration relationships with Australia. The paper concludes with some observations on the most recent developments in Asian migration, especially the large flows of international students into New Zealand.

Manoranjan Mohanty, Mahendra Reddy, Vijay Naidu
International Migration, Human Capital Loss and Development in the South Pacific: The Case of Fiji

Following the military coups of 1987 and 2000, some 100.000 Fiji citizens, largely but not exclusively of Indian origins emigrated to metropolitan countries in the Pacific rim. The migration of Indo-Fijians have numerous implications for the country including economic. This paper examines postcolonial patterns of migration and some of the economic and related ramifications of the post-coup exodus.

Deborah Oxley
Peopling the Pacific With Prisoners: The Transportation of Women to Australia

British imperial expansion in the Pacific involved colonising Australia with the coerced labour of criminal offenders. As lawbreaking was more typically a male pursuit than a female one, the result of penal transportation was the creation of highly gendered colonies in the Antipodes. In both Britain and Australia criminal women found themselves profoundly entangled in issues to do with their sex. This article explores the phenomenon of female transportation through examining what is known of the lives and times of the 25.000 girls and women exiled to that southern land.