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What Makes New Zealand Families Strong?

Auckland University researchers are looking at how disadvantaged New Zealand families achieve success.

"Eventually the study will involve over 100 New Zealand families," said researcher Dr Robyn Dixon.

"We are studying the personal lives and environmental factors that lead to success in socio-economically disadvantaged Pacific and Palagi families."

Dr Dixon is working with the The Centres for Child and Family Policy Research and Pacific Studies with Drs Vivienne Adair and Melenaite Taumoefolau.

Currently the words 'success' and 'family' are being defined. These working definitions will be developed by Pacific and Palagi peoples and through reading available literature.

"Existing research indicates that positive outcomes for children are based on a number of factors, including connections to family and community" said Dr Dixon.

The first part of the project, which is an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, is focusing on Pacific people living in New Zealand who identify as Samoan, Tongan or Cook Islands.

An advisory group to the research team made up of elders from Pacific communities will define success, identify successful Pacific Island families and ensure that the research methodologies and processes are culturally appropriate.

Following training, Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islands researchers will then facilitate six focus groups to explore notions of success within each of these communities.

"Discussion will concentrate on factors that impact positively on families, and how this counts towards successful outcomes," said Dr Dixon.

"Analysis of major themes derived from focus groups will be followed by input gathered through family interviews".

Findings will be disseminated widely through a variety of arenas including conference and seminar presentations, reporting back to communities, meetings and publications in academic journals and in the media.

For further information: Robyn Dixon, Centre for Child and Family Policy Research, University of Auckland, Tel 09 3737 599, Mobile 021 702 330 ext 7388,

Madeleine Setchell, Communications Adviser Foundation for Research, Science and Technology PO Box 12-240, Wellington Tel 04 9177806 Mobile 025 40 60 40

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