Traditionally, research on the impact of immigration has been conducted from a psychological perspective, whereby individuals’ acculturation status has been measured and associations made with outcomes such as physical and mental health status. Relatively little research has adopted a qualitative approach in order to understand how individuals, much less families, experience the immigration process.
Using a resilience-focused approach, the present study explores how migrant and refugee families from four Asian ethnic groups experienced immigration, and the barriers to and facilitators of a positive settlement experience, employing qualitative methods; focus group discussions and family interviews.
In Phase One of the study, 16 focus groups were conducted with 104 participants – 52 adults and 52 young people aged 16 to 25 years. In Phase Two, interviews were conducted with 30 members of eight families. Family groups ranged in size from two to six members.
Analysis of the focus-group discussions and family interviews highlighted the influence of discrimination, social support, language and communication, and employment and education on the settlement experience. While all the families faced similar challenges, irrespective of ethnic group, the degree of impact these factors had on the settlement experience differed. We argue, therefore, that differences amongst families are a function of family resilience, particularly the strengths of the connections between family members and those of the family to the community and wider society. We conclude that the family-resilience theory offers a useful way of understanding families’ settlement experiences and issues that could be addressed, which would result in better experiences for families migrating to New Zealand.