Maori culture as a psychological asset for New Zealanders’ acculturation experiences abroad

Contact: James Liu


Researched has shown that migration often causes stress in people because they have to adapt and become accustomed to a new culture.

This research looks at 16 New Zealanders, either Maori or Pakeha, living in Japan. They were interviewed to see how they manage acculturation and acculturation stress in the new country.

The research also looked at whether Maori cultural symbols, like certain signs and practices, or former experiences in New Zealand impacted acculturation stress.


The findings revealed 3 major aspects of how Maori culture contributes to the acculturation process:

  • Like Maori culture, Japanese culture is interdependent and clearly distinguishes foreigners or guests from natives. Foreigners usually hold a lesser position in Japanese society. As the minority group, Maori have experienced social exclusion in New Zealand. Because they are used to this status, Maori participants living in Japan accept their lower position, perceive it as liveable and experience less stress during the acculturation process than Pakeha participants.
  • Maori participants enjoy living in Japan because they can escape the discrimination experienced in New Zealand and can freely express their Maori identity.
  • For both Maori and Pakeha participants, the Maori culture simplified the identification as a New Zealander in Japan. Maori symbols helped Maori participants to feel proud of their minority membership and Pakeha participants to show their belongingness to New Zealand on a national level.

You can access the artice "Maori Culture as a Psychological Asset for New Zealanders' Acculturation Experience Abroad" here.