Samoan Youth: Identity, Adaptation and Acculturation

Published 2009. Contact: Colleen Ward


This research is an extension of the The International Comparative Study of Ethno-cultural Youth, a 13-nation project on identity, acculturation and adaptation. The results of the international project have been published in Immigrant Youth in Cultural Transition: Acculturation, Identity and Adaptation across National Context (Erlbaum, 2006).

The New Zealand component of the study was originally extended by Professor Colleen Ward so that survey data have been collected from 510 national youth (396 New Zealand Europeans and 114 Maori) and 935 immigrant youth (including 145 Chinese, 188 Koreans, 147 Samoans, 102 Indians, 111 Britons and 101 South Africans) aged 12-19 years.

This study has further extended the research by expanding the Samoan sample so that systematic comparisons could be made between first and second generation youth.


This study is based on the responses of 250 first and second generation Samoan youth aged 12-19 years.

The research addressed four major questions around living between and within two cultures, and adaptation processes.

In addition to background information, the survey included measures of intercultural factors (such as ethnic and national identity, ethnic and national language usage, ethnic an national peer contact, family values and acculturation attitudes), perceived discrimination, and adaptation (psychological adaptation, including life satisfaction and psychological symptoms and socio-cultural adaptation, including behavioural problems and school adjustment).


The research show that both first and second generation Samoan youth maintained a strong ethnic identity and that it was stronger than New Zealand identity. However, second generation youth had a stronger New Zealand identity than their first generation peers.

First generation youth were more proficient in Samoan and used it at home more frequently than English, while second generation youth were more proficient in English and used it more often at home.

Both first and second generation youth had more peer contacts with other Samoans than with either New Zealand European or Maori youth.

The research revealed that there were four major acculturation profiles in Samoan youth: (Moderately) Multicultural, National, Ethnic and Diffuse.

Read the full report "Identity, Acculturation and Adaptation in First and Second Generation Samoan Youth" here.