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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roman

A better future

In 2010, Hamilton’s Kiribati population was youthful. Most were enrolled in school, while a few young adults worked in the agricultural or service sectors. Parents voiced concern for older children who were nearing the end of their education. “I don’t want my child to follow me into the glasshouse to pick tomatoes. I came here so he could have a better future, but how,” one father stated. For many parents, the university was never an option. But, for their children, now, yes. Waikato University reached out to the Kiribati community for the first time that year and brought thirteen Kiribati senior secondary students on campus to meet with administrators, enrollment counselors, and students. Most in attendance never thought university was an option. Two months later, one was accepted into University studies. Many followed her lead. Ten years later, she works for the government of New Zealand as a research analyst.

Contemporary migrants to New Zealand arrive with options. Regional Seasonal Employment scheme workers return home after months of work, with options for future New Zealand employment. PAC recipients immigrate with the option of bringing immediate family, allowing for limited chain migration, and creating pockets of Kiribati communities throughout New Zealand. As time progresses, PAC recipients become permanent residents who transition into naturalized citizens. The road to citizenship is fraught with

many challenges, hardships, successes, joys, and for better or worse, they each have a community they rely on in times of trouble.

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