Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Ngā wāhine kaha from Syria: The experience of former refugee women from Syria resettling in Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-23, 01:51 authored by Fitzgerald, Hawa Kusuma Setyawati

This thesis examines the experience of former refugee women from Syria resettling in Aotearoa New Zealand. It focuses on Syrian women who have resettled in the Wellington region and Dunedin - the two main areas to which Syrian refugees have been allocated. The study documented Syrian refugee women’s perspectives about resettlement satisfaction, their strengths and challenges, and their ideas for community development.  The methodology and analysis for the study incorporated the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to resettlement and the Mana Wahine framework. Through forty-five survey participants and three focus groups, the study found that the integration of wairua/spirituality, cultural identity, language and whanaungatanga/relationships in the family was very important for Syrian women’s resettlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.  This study found gender roles between men and women strongly exist in the Syrian community. Many refugee women found their roles changed and lost the support they used to have from family members back home. Participants also expressed facing isolation resulting from cultural aspects. These show refugee women have bigger challenges to integration compared to their male counterparts, and that Syrian women have specific cultural rights related to their gender and religion. However, refugee resettlement services and community development were delivered the same way for men and women, and more types of supports are needed for refugee women.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Stupples, Polly