University of Tasmania
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Cook islanders in town : a study of Cook Island urbanisation.

posted on 2023-05-26, 22:31 authored by Curson, Peter Hayden
Cook Islanders have a very long history of population movement within their Island group and to other parts of the Pacific. Today migration has almost become a part of the social structure. Movement to the town of Avarua began as early as the 1840s and soon came to represent one of the dominant forces in the Island scene. By the late 1940s Cook Islanders had added a further dimension to the migration process in that an ever increasing number were moving to New Zealand many to settle in the urban areas of Auckland and Wellington. Although many emigrated in response to economic stimuli by the mid-1950s one of the main dislodging factors was undoubtedly the activity of the large number of Islanders resident in New Zealand. The movement of Islanders to Avarua and to Auckland is seen as being functionally interrelated. Growing urbanisation on Rarotonga can therefore be seen as a preliminary stage of an urbanisation process which will reach its culmination in the urban centres of New Zealand. Avarua as the centre of European colonisation, administration and economic activity is very much a town 'in transition' from traditional to modern, an arena of socio-economic change where modern influences co-exist and conflict with the traditional. Within the town ethnicity remains an important differentiating characteristic of urban life,as does migration which has produced a continual sifting and sorting of the population as Islanders arrive from the Outer Islands and depart for New Zealand. Within Auckland, Islanders have occupied some of the city's oldest and most deteriorated housing in areas of generally low social grade. While prejudice and discrimination have played a part in ensuring this settlement pattern also important has been the desire by migrants to preserve traditional cultural values, kinship ties and preferred modes on interaction. Overall the kinship network remains of considerable significance in both attracting migrants to particular parts of the city and in providing important lines of communication and exchange between migrants in New Zealand and their kinsfolk in the Islands. Such linkages play a major role in shaping social relationships and interaction within the city as well as serving to bind together rural village, urban Avarua and the New Zealand urban community into a complex interlocking network of obligations, rights and exchanges. To this extent it is possible to visualise the Auckland community as being an extension of the Cook Island social system. The transition to urban life has not been without its problems. Traditional village life has often ill-prepared migrants for the highly differentiated and complieated life of town and city. Stresses resulting from urban living and the pressure for social and economic change have in many cases been productive of frustration, anxiety, social deviancy and medical problems. In the final analysis Cook Islanders continue to live in a number of worlds and to act within a number of frames of reference. At least three worlds seem relevant to the urban Islander: traditional village, urban Avarua and urban Auckland.


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Copyright 1972 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tasmania, 1972. Bibliography: p. 488-500

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