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Representation of immigrants in New Zealand print media: A critical discourse analysis

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posted on 22.11.2021, 08:38 by Salahshour, Neda

Representation of Immigrants in New Zealand Print Media: A Critical Discourse Analysis  New Zealand is often perceived as one of the most diverse countries in terms of its population, with “more ethnicities in New Zealand than there are countries in the world” (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). According to the 2013 census, 39% of people who live in Auckland, New Zealand’s most immigrant-populated city, were born overseas. In such a setting, the issue of social harmony becomes important. Media institutions hold power and therefore their representations play a significant role in how immigrants are perceived and whether they are embraced and welcomed or resisted. It is for this reason that media discourse deserves attention.  Research in this area in the context of New Zealand has been limited and furthermore has leaned towards content analysis or a purely qualitative analysis of a specific diaspora. Addressing these issues, my research aims to gain a better understanding of how immigrants are discursively constructed in the New Zealand Herald newspaper during the years 2007 and 2008. Given that the Global Financial Crisis began to make its presence felt in 2008, this study also sought to investigate expected discrepancies in the representation of immigrants during economically challenging times.  Grounded within a critical approach, this study adopts methodic triangulation; that is, the data is analysed using two complementary analytical frameworks, namely that of corpus-assisted discourse analysis (Baker, KhosraviNik, Krzyzanowski, McEnery, & Wodak, 2008) and the Discourse-Historical Approach (Reisigl & Wodak, 2009). Using these two frameworks, I use statistical information as entry points into the data and explore significant collocations which contribute to the construction of dominant representations. This analysis is followed by an in-depth analysis of systematically sampled news articles with the aim of identifying the ii various discursive and argumentation strategies commonly employed in print media.  The findings from both analyses point to a rather ambivalent representation of immigrants. On the one hand, immigrants are constructed as being qualified and playing an important role in filling skill shortages in New Zealand. This positive construction depicts immigrants as an economic resource which ought to be capitalized. In addition, liquid metaphors, previously argued to dehumanize immigrants and construct them as uncontrollable (KhosraviNik, 2009) are surprisingly used in my data to construct the immigration of large numbers of immigrants to New Zealand as essential. On the other hand, immigrants are also constructed as threateningly Other or passive victims. Therefore, immigrants are not only constructed as beneficial to New Zealand society but are also represented as being problematic.  This study identifies a unique representation of immigrants in the New Zealand Herald which could perhaps be explained by the unique socio-political and geographical context of the country. The triangulation and methodic rigour of this study also ensure that the findings are generalizable to the whole dataset and contribute to current understandings of immigrant representation and approaches to the study of discourse and representation.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Applied Linguistics

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970120 Expanding Knowledge in Languages, Communication and Culture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Wallace, Derek; Holmes, Janet