Neighbors and Navigators: Preparing for Climate Mobility from Tuvalu and Kiribati to Aotearoa

This policy brief was developed as part of Dr Olivia Yates’ doctoral research in Psychology (2019-2023), which was a collaborative, action-oriented research project with the Tuvaluan and Kiribati communities in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. It was completed under the supervision of Dr Sam Manuela, Dr Shiloh Groot, and Professor Andreas Neef as well as with the support of a Pacific advisory board. The overall project sought to understand the dynamics and implications of climate mobility from Tuvalu and Kiribati to Aotearoa New Zealand and appropriate policy response. For this, we drew upon the talanoa methodology and community psychology principles to develop a unique culturally relevant and action-focussed research project.

The project comprised of three separate studies. Together, these form an evidence base for efforts to redress Aotearoa New Zealand’s insufficient and inequitable climate and immigration policies.

  • Study 1 explored the Tuvaluan and Kiribati communities’ experiences of mobility in the context of the climate crisis through sautalaga and maroro (free flowing dialogue, Tuvaluan and Kiribati, respectively) with community members.
  • Study 2 investigated New Zealanders’ attitudes towards climate migrants and climate justice using an online quantitative survey.
  • Study 3 inspected notions of solidarity and neighbourliness with the Pacific in conversation with youth climate activists in Aotearoa NZ.

The policy brief and research report, “Neighbours and Navigators: Preparing for Climate Mobility from Tuvalu and Kiribati to Aotearoa” draws from these studies to present a novel case for a just approach to climate mobility. Specifically, the policy brief advocates for a three-pronged approach, which includes:

  • Making the journey easier: Reforming existing visa pathways and creating a new climate mobility-specific visa pathway
  • Supporting communities to regrow roots: Backing community-led initiatives to ease resettlement burdens, support the maintenance of roots (identity and cultural heritage), and foster community engagement.
  • Rewriting the narrative: Developing a communications strategy to educate and prepare New Zealanders for climate mobility from the Pacific.