New Zealand is now among the forerunners attracting Irish emigrants who have fallen on hard times at home in Ireland. Of the more than 40,000 who left Ireland last year, nearly 2,000 now call New Zealand home and thousands more are on their way.
However, the emigrant generations in New Zealand have found differences in the newcomers' motives for moving to the Pacific nation.
Stuff in New Zealand reports on the changing tides of Irish culture and its appreciation in New Zealand. While the Irish have been emigrating to New Zealand for decades, the latest wave differs from its predecessors. “This new wave are highly educated or skilled, don't see themselves staying in New Zealand forever, and at this stage at least, aren't deeply concerned with keeping their Irish culture alive,” writes Sarah Murray.
Auckland Irish Society vice- president Michael Hickey shared his views on the differences between the generations. Hickey emigrated to New Zealand from Tipperary in 1970, and upon arrival quickly found his niche with other Irish ex-pats.
"Their attitude is different," said Hickey of the latest Irish emigrants. "They're not stuck here, and they don't have that mindset that this is where they're going to be for the next 50 years. They don't see themselves as putting down roots, so they don't want to be on committees and things.”
"When my generation came, we were in our twenties and we wanted a home and to settle down,” added Hickey. “But 30 is the new 21, in the way people act. So they don't have that outlook yet."
Reporter Sarah Murray commented on the shifting tides of appreciation and enthusiasm for preserving Irish culture. While days bygone focused on the preservation of Irish culture through clubs and societies, today’s seem to be flourishing more through the Irish pub scene in New Zealand.
Lorcan Mitchell, a 28 year old Galway native, said, "I think during the 50s and 60s, it was very much a time for dances in clubs - so going to the Irish club would have been seen as very much the norm, whereas now I think people prefer to drink in pubs.”
"The mentality has changed. The pub is now the main focus of entertainment for us,” he added.
While Belfast native Donna Nellis also shares Mitchell’s views, she believes that the attitudes will shift once her generation starts to raise families in New Zealand.
"I'll be more active," she says. "You can't just take children to the pubs. I think that will be the same for others my age from Ireland. Once they finally settle and have families, then they'll want their children to do Irish dancing and know about their Irish culture."
With Ireland’s emigration still steadily progressing, it’s no doubt that more Irish natives will find their home in New Zealand, where work seems to come much more easily than back in the Emerald Isle. Perhaps with more Irish arriving, the attitudes towards preservation of culture will again shift.
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