Conference charts pathways to changing populations

New Zealand’s rapidly changing demographics is the subject of a two-day conference at Massey’s Wellington campus next week that brings together local and international population specialists.

The Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads Conference 2013, from October 21-22, is being organised by Massey University and the University of Waikato’s Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi research programme in collaboration with the of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Strategy and Governance Group (migration research).

With a backdrop to the conference being New Zealand’s changing multi-cultural profile, topics range from the regional impacts of migration, the role of international students, issues of immigration policy, the impacts and outcomes of temporary migration and new research methods for understanding an increasingly mobile population.

Another conference subject being presented by Massey researchers Dr Trudie Cain, Associate Professor Robin Peace and Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, addresses the topic of how a sense of community and belonging is created in an environment changed by mobility and migration.

One such community is the West Coast, the subject of a paper “Negotiating Tensions in the South” which looks at the tensions between economic development and environmental impacts of industry such as mining as well as the effect on the surrounding community.

The presentation represents one small part of a two-year project, funded by MBIE, which seeks to better understand New Zealand’s changing demographics including the country’s rapidly ageing population. The research focuses on five key regions throughout New Zealand – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Southland and the West Coast. Researchers were still interested in hearing from prospective participants for the study from Wellington and Christchurch too.

“Our research sheds light on everyday experiences of people who live in these communities, how they make sense of the changes that are happening around them including their thoughts about what would make them stay in a region and what would make them leave,” Dr Cain says.

“Immigration is an important contributor to the demographic, cultural and skills make-up of contemporary society. In a New Zealand context, the increasing mobility of those residing within Aotearoa is quickly changing the demography of both urban and rural communities resulting in some regions facing rapid economic expansion while others experience gradual decline.”

Another paper being presented by Professor Spoonley, with Dr Philip Gendall, in a collaboration between Massey and Otago University with Andrew Butcher from the Asia New Zealand Foundation, addresses the topic “Reorienting to Asia – Tracking New Zealanders’ Attitude to Asia and Asian Peoples from 1997-2001.”

The Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads Conference is being held in the theatrette of the Museum building, Massey University, Wellington on Monday-Tuesday October 21-22.

Here’s a link to the website for more programme information

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