Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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"You can never be on one side alone": Some Young Somali-Kiwi Women's Narratives about Identity, Resettlement and Community Development in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-13, 20:35 authored by James, Emily Kathryn

This research investigates how young Somali women are navigating through the resettlement process while negotiating their own identities in Wellington, New Zealand. It is important as it addresses two main research gaps: 1) it focuses on research with young Somali women at university and 2) it offers a strength-based analysis. The research also addresses important development concerns about how former refugees can better contribute into their host societies. Employing the use of participatory methods within a feminist qualitative methodology, I created a project that enabled the young women to voice their opinions regarding identity construction, cultural maintenance and their goals for the future.  I conducted approximately 150 hours of ethnographic research at organisations that catered to former refugee needs. I found a young female Somali student who worked as my Cultural Advisor and enhanced my credibility and access within the Somali community. I then conducted a focus group and five individual interviews with young Somali women to hear their narratives about their resettlement experience and their advice on how to improve the process for others. I conducted five interviews with key informants at organisations that provide support services for former refugees. The key informants gave the policy perspective on refugee resettlement as well as advice on how support services and the government can approve the transition for former refugees.  The results of this study revealed that the young women did feel tension at times negotiating their Somali culture and that of their host society but found benefits in both. The importance of the family resettling successfully was vital for the young women especially the wellbeing of their mothers and other female elders. The key informants echoed these sentiments and voiced the necessity for more women-focused support services. The young women also will be facing a second resettlement process through their emigration to Australia as they search for more job opportunities and a better Somali cultural connection.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

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

940113 Gender and Sexualities

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Kindon, Sara