Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Intercultural Relations in a Multicultural Society: Predicting Tongans' Attitudes toward Maori and New Zealand Europeans/Palangi Groups

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posted on 2021-11-14, 00:55 authored by Tatafu, Malia Alisi

Contemporary intergroup relations and perceptions research has largely focused on majorities' perspectives while neglecting the perspectives of minorities. However, for a multicultural society to be successful, mutually positive intergroup attitudes are important, and multiple perspectives need to be considered.  This research drew on Ward and Masgoret's (2006) Integrative Model (IM) of attitudes toward immigrants to examine contact, threat (realistic and symbolic), and intergroup emotions (anger and fear) as predictors of Tongans' attitudes toward New Zealand Europeans/Palangi people and Maori. It also tested: 1) the effects of perceived discrimination to determine if this explained additional variance in out-group attitudes beyond that accounted for by contact, threat and emotions; and 2) target group (Palangi/Maori) as a moderator of the predictor variables.  Two hundred and forty-four Tongans (age range 15-83 years) resident in New Zealand participated in the study. In line with the hypotheses, hierarchical regression analysis controlling for age, gender, educational level, English language proficiency and employment status indicated that greater contact and lower levels of symbolic threat predicted positive out-group attitudes and fear predicted negative attitudes. Furthermore, the addition of perceived discrimination to the regression model significantly accounted for additional variance in out-group attitudes and appeared to mediate the effect of fear, which was no longer significant. Contrary to expectations, however, these effects were not moderated by out-group (Palangi/Maori) target.  The findings are discussed in relation to New Zealand's social, economic and political context. In addition, the contributions offered by a minority perspective on intergroup relations are elaborated, and the applications of the findings are described along with recommendations for future research. In the end, understanding minorities' perspectives is crucial for promoting positive intergroup relations in New Zealand as well as in other multicultural societies particularly those with long histories of cultural plurality and prolonged intercultural conflicts.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Crosscultural Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

940111 Ethnicity, Multiculturalism and Migrant Development and Welfare

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Ward, Colleen