Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ethnic hubs home to entrepreneurs, study finds

Housing in the South Auckland suburb of Meadowlands. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Policymakers are not doing enough to understand ethnic precincts and enclaves, such as Auckland's Asian-style Northcote Shopping Centre, academics from Massey University will tell an immigration conference today.

Sociologists Paul Spoonley and Carina Meares, who have studied two Auckland ethnic precincts - Northcote and Meadowlands near Howick - say it is important to look deeper into these ethnic enclaves because they form a hub of migrant entrepreneurship.

The report, Transforming Space and Place: The Growth of Ethnic Precincts in Auckland, will be discussed at the Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads immigration conference in Wellington.

"[The precincts] provide an access point into unfamiliar business and cultural environments for new migrants, allowing them to operate more easily without extensive local networks and fluency in English," said Dr Meares.

"They also provide migrants with the opportunity to get together, buy familiar products and services, or share a meal and celebrate important cultural events." Professor Spoonley says it is surprising that very little attention is paid to ethnic precincts in light of NZ Immigration's investment in skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants.

He said the study found many migrants became entrepreneurs operating in these precincts because of difficulties in finding jobs and gaining access to mainstream business networks.

"Such precincts epitomise a high level of immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnic retail, food and cultural activity that reflects the establishment of a distinct sub-economy that is markedly different from anything that has previously existed in New Zealand."

The conference, being run by Massey University, the University of Waikato and the Department of Labour will also address policy and economic challenges, economic integration of immigrants and the effect of seasonal migration to New Zealand on households in Tonga and Vanuatu.
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln
5:30 AM Tuesday Dec 7, 2010


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