Muslim teens adapt well to NZ life

00:34, Jan 10 2010
A study by the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research has found New Zealand's relatively tolerant atmosphere helps Muslim 13- to 19-year-olds keep well.

Muslim teenagers in New Zealand adapt well to life in New Zealand, a Victoria University study has found.

The study, carried out on 180 Muslim teens, by the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research, measured their psychological and social well-being by examining life satisfaction, psychological conditions, school adjustment and behavioural issues, Professor Colleen Ward said.

The study, carried out as part of a 13-country survey of well-being and identity, drew on data from previous studies carried out in New Zealand, on other groups of teens, as comparison.

The findings revealed Muslim youth demonstrated more positive outcomes on all indicators than their Maori and Pakeha peers, Prof Ward said.

The combination of strong family support, religion and New Zealand's relatively tolerant atmosphere helped the Muslim 13- to 19-year-olds keep well, she said.

Though the students identified themselves as New Zealanders and the ethnic group they were from, their strongest identification was with being a Muslim, the researchers found.

In general, young people from immigrant and minority families were able to thrive when allowed to keep their beliefs, while participating fairly and equally in society, Prof Ward said.

The cultural environment of New Zealand allowed people to integrate, keeping their culture and ethnic groups, rather than assimilating them and forcing them to abandon the culture they came from, as in some other countries, she said.

New Zealand's Muslim community had between 30,000 and 40,000 members, and was increasing rapidly.