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The political engagement of Pacific peoples in New Zealand

27 Mar 2013

There is a dearth of research on the political engagement of Pacific peoples in New Zealand. To address this deficit, data from six waves of a survey conducted after each general election (the New Zealand Election Study between 1996 and 2011) were merged (n=17,876) and analysis was conducted to compare various aspects of political engagement between Pacific respondents and all other (mostly New Zealand European) respondents. Results showed that, compared to all other respondents, Pacific respondents had lower levels of internal and external political efficacy, comparable rates of voting and campaign activism, less engagement in political discussion or persuasion, higher attention to the election campaign in the media, and generally lower levels of non-electoral participation. They also exhibited a strong preference for the Labour Party in their partisanship and voting choices, primarily due to the party’s history of engagement and mobilisation of Pacific communities and its representation of their broad interests as a socially disadvantaged, predominantly working class ethnic minority. To increase the political engagement of the relatively youthful Pacific population, civic educational programmes designed to improve political knowledge and efficacy are needed in schools and tertiary institutions, and political parties must connect with Pacific communities by mobilising them to vote, campaigning on issues important to them, and selecting Pacific representatives.

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