Journal article


This article examines how policy changes at a range of levels could improve decision making by and initial settlement outcomes for Kiribati migrants, a relatively new migrant group to New Zealand. It draws on recent research, based on in-depth interviews, on the settlement experiences of Kiribati migrants and their families living in New Zealand (Thompson, 2016). The first section examines how minor changes to existing operational policies under the Pacific Access Category (PAC) could improve migration decision making and enable new migrants to search for and find employment in a more efficient manner. The second section examines the efficacy of the current PAC quota for Kiribati, given the demographic, economic and environmental vulnerabilities facing it. Looking to the future, the last section explores the need for a longer-term strategic approach to policy formation relating to climate change and migration with special reference to Kiribati.


Policy settings have a major influence on the decisions people make with regard to overseas migration, or, in the case of refugees, to avail themselves of protection provided. As such, migrants and refugees do not enter their new host countries in a policy vacuum. Rather, they are enveloped not only by the policy settings of the day, but also by the social attitudes of their host societies. Across the policy spectrum, changes to existing policies and the formation of new policy thinking on the complex subject of climate change and migration all deserve attention by policy thinkers seeking to improve both short-term and longer-term outcomes for Kiribati migrants and New Zealand society.

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