New Zealand European Diaspora

In recent years, the NZ migration debate has centred on the immigration of skilled foreign nationals to NZ. Virtually no attention has been paid to return migration by New Zealanders or the contribution made by this returning Diaspora who may have gained new skills and knowledge while abroad. Consequently, no policy action has been focused on accounting, harnessing and involving this unique expertise back into NZ society even though this has featured in policy and academic discourses. Worryingly, very little is known about: a) the patterns of return and circularity and the contribution to the economic future of NZ, despite the fact that the commonly-held assumption that NZ emigrants will eventually return; b) their economic experiences while abroad, and how these are mediated by their social and cultural experiences; and c) their ability to transfer knowledge and skills back to NZ, and to utilise these effectively after their return.

Pilot project

A new pilot research project “New Zealand European Diaspora” undertaken by the NCRE addresses these critical policy and knowledge gaps by focusing on the return migration motivations and characteristics of New Zealanders who previously resided within the European Union’s single market (spanning the 27 member states).

Being in its pilot stage, the project has already included several stages.  In early 2008, the NCRE was commissioned by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) (London) to participate in a large-scale comparative project investigating the experiences of return migrants. In the framework of this project, the NCRE led a case-study of New Zealand return migrants from the UK. Independently of this, NCRE also undertook a study of returnees from continental Europe, with the IPPR study informing the latter research.  I late 2008, the NCRE got awarded a UC Summer Scholarship fund which allowed to involve a young researcher to continue elaboration of the project overviewing scholarly literature on NZ return migration, establishing contacts with NZ Diaspora networks and undertaking research looking at how New Zealanders who have lived in the EU perceive the Union after they return to NZ.  This preliminary study looked at whether the perceptions of the EU of New Zealanders who had spent time in the Union differed from those held by the general population of New Zealand, and whether return migrants could be a resource the EU could use to improve its foreign policy action.

Project researchers

Project supervisors

Researchers associated with the project

IPPR-sponsored leg of research

  • Valerie Boyce, National Centre for Research on Europe
  • Anna Dekker, National Centre for Research on Europe
  • Frendehl Warner, National Centre for Research on Europe

UC Summer Studentship

  • Nicholas Smith, National Centre for Research on Europe