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Lecture: What does it mean to be an Aucklander?

Lecture: What does it mean to be an Aucklander?

Auckland’s demographic and cultural mix has changed dramatically in recent decades. It is now one of the most immigrant-dependent cities in the world with 56 per cent of residents either immigrants, or the children of immigrants.

On August 7, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley will deliver a lecture at the Albany campus on cultural diversity and citizenship in the 21st century, exploring these changes and the implications for everything from our food habits and sports to identity and language.

It’s an ongoing process that Professor Spoonley sees as both challenging and revitalising for the region and the nation.

“Modern migration patterns and new levels of cultural diversity challenge many of the traditional notions of what it means to be a citizen of a particular country. What are the implications of highly mobile populations who travel back and forwards to maintain households or businesses in different locations, who are citizens of several countries and who might be equally loyal to each of them?”

Recent waves of immigration to New Zealand have significantly changed the urban landscape and the composition of communities and institutions, such as schools. But the second generation – known as the 1.5 – will change things further as they develop and negotiate a third culture or hybrid identities.

“Immigration has dramatically changed the nature of our country and community in the last two decades. But the change hardly stops there and the second generation of these immigrant communities is already contributing to further change in exciting ways. What lies in store over the next two decades? How will this super-diversity change what it means to be a New Zealander?“ he says.

Professor Spoonley says it is time to discuss more contentious issues: “If we have had a national conversation in recent decades about the rights of Māori as tangata whenua, then we should also have another conversation about the rights of ethnic minorities.”

After the lecture a panel hosted by Radio New Zealand host Bryan Crump will continue the discussion and take questions from the audience.

Paul Spoonley is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Massey University. He has researched and written for more than 30 years on New Zealand’s immigration and employment trends, and the nation’s changing demography. He is Regional Director (Auckland) and Research Director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

He currently heads a major research project on the resettlement of immigrants in contemporary New Zealand called Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi, involving teams from Massey University and the University of Waikato, and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

This lecture is the second of a series hosted by the School of People, Environment and Planning, exploring New Zealand’s changing culture and identity and the tensions between political processes and public debate. For more information on the lectures, go to:

The lecture will be held at the Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatres, from 6-8 pm. Seating is limited and reservations are essential. To confirm your seat, please email Amy Tootell: or phone: 09 414 0800 and dial extension 7246.

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