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LEARNING FROM THE PAST? Cambodian and Syrian Refugee Experiences in New Zealand, 1979-2019

Angela McCarthy


This article utilises interviews with Cambodian and Syrian former refugees in Dunedin, New Zealand, to evaluate whether knowledge of previous refugee experiences can assist the resettlement of new refugee arrivals. It reveals that refugees to Dunedin have encountered similar challenges in both the past and the present – particularly concerning work, language, family reunification, health, and conflict within communities. Despite such similarities, drawing on past knowledge cannot fully assist with current responses for there is much that is new in our present times including different political and social contexts and the cultural characteristics of the refugees themselves. Further, by utilising interviews with former refugees from Cambodia and Syria, the article also offers up recommendations from the newcomers of ways to facilitate the resettlement process.


gees; Cambodian; Syrian; Dunedin; history; resettlement challenges

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