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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Masters of Social Sciences
Title The Social Impacts of seasonal migration on left-behind children: An exploratory study from Lifuka, Tonga
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/10614/thesis.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y
There is a dearth of knowledge about the social impacts of seasonal migration on
children left behind in Tonga and Pacific countries more generally. The economic
benefits of remittances on families have been studied quite extensively but the social
costs and benefits have not been the subject of much inquiry. This exploratory study
in a Tongan village setting seeks to better understand children who are left behind
and who are being affected by lengthy absences of older family members when they
are employed as seasonal workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries of New
Zealand and Australia.
Three main questions are addressed. Firstly, how do community leaders, teachers,
parents and the children themselves perceive the impacts on the children left behind
by older family members when they are working overseas? Social impacts on
children are examined with reference to health, education, social and religious
participation. Secondly, how do the social impacts vary by gender and age of the
children? Finally, what, if any, coping strategies are used or are being planned to
mitigate the social impacts of seasonal migration overseas on teenage children? The
data that was collected to address these questions came from three major sources: i)
informal talanoa, ii) semi-structured interviews iii) and focus group discussions held
in Lifuka, Ha’apai, Tonga.
This study revealed that children left behind in Tonga experience both positive and
negative impacts on their education, health, social and religious participation when
their mother/father or older siblings are working overseas. Seasonal workers’
earnings raise household incomes and assist with paying children’s school fees and
other financial needs at school, improving access to health and church services
through the purchasing of cars for transportation, and providing new clothes for
children especially for special occasions.

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