Youth Voices, Youth Choices

Published 2010. Contact: Colleen Ward.


The Youth Voices, Youth Choices project brought together a research team from the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research and Va’aomanu Pasifika to:

  • Engage youth from diverse ethnic, cultural and religious communities
  • Understand their aspirations for social integration and the indicators and determinants of participation and success.

In light of New Zealand’s changing demographics, this project aimed to identify the indicators and determinants of participation and success in Chinese, Pacific and Muslim youth in culturally and religiously diverse Aotearoa/New Zealand.


The project combined national and international research initiatives. On the international level it extended CACR’s collaboration with the 13-nation International Comparative Study of Ethno-cultural Youth (ICSEY) to the study of Muslim youth.

The project used a survey methodology to examine factors such as ethnic and national identity, language use and proficiency, peer contacts, acculturation preferences, family values and adaptive outcomes such as school adjustment, behavioural problems, and life satisfaction.


The research revealed that there were four major acculturation profiles; that is, ways in which migrant and ethnic youth balance pressures for the maintenance of their heritage culture and the challenges posed in connection with their participation in New Zealand society: Integrated, National, Ethnic and Diffuse.

The research also revealed that there were systematic differences in the adaptation outcomes across integrated, national, ethnic and diffuse youth.

  • Integrated and National youth reported greater life satisfaction than Ethnic and Diffuse.
  • Diffuse youth displayed more psychological symptoms than all other groups.
  • Integrated and Ethnic youth reported fewer behavioural problems than National and Diffuse youth.
  • Diffuse youth reported poorer school adjustment than all other groups.

Finally, the findings indicated that immigrant youth adapted as well as or better in terms of life satisfaction, psychological symptoms, school adjustment and behavioural problems, than national youth. Furthermore, they do well despite visible immigrant groups experiencing more ethnic discrimination than New Zealand European youth.

You can read the full report "Youth Voices, Youth Choices: Identity, Integration and Social Cohesion in Culturally Diverse Aotearoa/New Zealand" here.