The effect of migration on development in Tuvalu : a case study of PAC migrants and their families : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies
International migration and development have been traditionally treated as separate policy portfolios; however, today the two are increasingly viewed as interlinked. While the development status of a country could determine migration flows, migration can, in turn, contribute positively to national development, including economic, social and cultural progress. Consequently, if migration is not well managed, it can pose development challenges to a country’s development and progress. Therefore, partnership through greater networking between countries of origin and destination is needed to fully utilise the development potential of migration. For Tuvalu, migration has remained a vital ingredient for economic development and more importantly, the welfare of its people. The implementation of New Zealand’s Pacific Access Category (PAC) scheme in 2002 offered for the first time a formal migration opportunity for permanent or long-term migration of Tuvaluans. The PAC scheme allows 75 Tuvaluans per year to apply for permanent residence to work and live in New Zealand, provided they meet the scheme’s conditions. The goal of this research is to investigate, more than five years after PAC’s implementation, the ways in which long-term migration of Tuvaluans, through the PAC scheme, has benefited Tuvalu. To give a broader perspective on the issues explored in this study, the views of Tuvaluan leaders, as significant players in traditional Tuvaluan society, are included, in addition to the perspective of migrants’ families in Tuvalu and the migrants themselves in New Zealand. Combining transnationalist and developmental approaches as a theoretical framework, this thesis explores how Tuvalu’s mobile and immobile populations, through articulation of transnationalism, enhance family welfare, and grassroots and national development. The eight weeks’ fieldwork in Tuvalu and Auckland demonstrated that the physical separation of Tuvaluans from one another through migration does not limit the richness of the interactions and connections between them. In fact, the existence of active networking between island community groups and other Tuvaluan associations in Auckland and in Tuvalu strengthens the Tuvaluan culture both abroad and at home, thus ensuring strong family and community coherence. Maintaining transnational networks and practices is identified as of great significance to grassroots and community-based development in Tuvalu. However, the benefits of long-term migration can only be sustained as long as island loyalty, or loto fenua, and family kinship stays intact across borders, and networking amongst families, communities and church remains active.