'Different from Any Other': the Experience of a Lebanese Migrant in Wellington in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Aiming to cast insight on the Lebanese community in Wellington in the mid-twentieth century, a series of in-depth narrative history interviews explore aspects of the reflections of Lebanese migrant, Elias Arraj, who arrived in Wellington in 1953. A secondary data source comprising archived oral histories undertaken with members of the Dunedin Lebanese community in 1988 provides a background context, and additional insights on ‘being Lebanese’ in New Zealand. The research design comprises a constructionist epistemology, a critical theoretical orientation and a narrative inquiry methodology. The interpretation of both primary and secondary data sources employs a thematic analysis. The roles of the researcher and the participants in the construction of the data and the impact of underlying social and cultural factors on the narrators’ experiences are also explored. Considering the cultural inheritance and religious affiliations which were important to Elias the thesis focuses on: his experience of immigration and re-settlement; the way he interpreted and responded to the difficulties he faced as a new migrant; and available avenues of support. The narratives reveal how Elias drew on his distinct and enduring sense of cultural heritage to overcome the challenge of being an immigrant in New Zealand.