Doing oral histories: “A New Zealand Cretan war connection”. A micro-study of Greek female immigrants to NZ in the 60s
Papoutsaki, Evangelia; Tsoulis, Athina
Citation:Papoutsaki, E., & Tsoulis, A. (2011, October). A New Zealand Cretan war connection: A micro-study of Greek female immigrants to NZ in the 60s. [PowerPoint presentation]. Slides from paper presented at the 2011 Unitec Research Symposium, Auckland.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1742
This paper is based on an oral history project that records the personal stories of elderly Cretan women who came to New Zealand in the early 60s as part of a scheme to provide domestic labour for the health and hospitality sectors. Firstly, it explores the historical link between New Zealand and Crete created during the Second World War and what impact this war had on a group of women and their decision to migrate to New Zealand. Secondly, it provides a gender perspective with emphasis on how women experience migration and the impact migration had on them from a women’s perspective (traditional values, financial independence etc). Thirdly, in exploring the above issues, the paper also provides a useful account of how oral history projects are conducted. These young women were taking a big risk, moving to a country they knew very little about and which had a very small Greek community that could provide them with support unlike the many post-war Greeks who migrated to Australia knowing that they were migrating to a country with well-established Greek communities which assisted in some degree to lessen the social and cultural dislocation experienced through the process of migration and settlement. The research gives a voice to an immigrant group hitherto overlooked in historical records. It provides new insights into the lives of these women by recording their personal perceptions of life in their home countries before departure; the impact the war had in their lives; their expectations of their new life against the reality when they arrived and in their chosen new country – what it was actually like and how they felt. Themes explore collective and individual war memories; adaptation; challenges; settling in; sense of cultural community; contribution to New Zealand society and female perspectives of these experiences.