Loneliness NZ


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Pasifika and lonely

For many of us our awareness of who makes up our Aotearoa’s Pasifika people comes from being at events and festivals. It is only while wandering amongst the stalls set up as community style villages that we appreciate the national pride that people coming from Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa all have. We see that no matter which island you originate from you share in common a love for music, a genuine community spirit, and food. And we can also see your wonderful differences, as you showcase your dancing, your national dress, and your songs.

And yet, despite showcasing your differences to Aotearoa, when it comes to everyday life many of you continue to experience a world where you are required to fit in as though you are the same as our Aotearoa Pakeha. . You have our empathy because worse still there are many New Zealanders who stereotype you simply as an islander… often not respected in your own right as an individual.  For many of you this might be in itself a lonely experience.

And for many of you, your life is not easy. While you have your strong sense of community to help you not be alone in hard times, you also might struggle to let others know how bad you really feel not to cause them added worry, or anxiety…or that you simply feel ashamed for having these feelings. Again that also might bring a genuine loneliness as you battle through your inner emotions alone.

So if you are one of the many folk who feels lonely as a result of being a Pasifika, or you know of someone who feels loneliness from this, then read on. In fact even if you suspect others might be lonely, and they stoically say they aren’t, it’s worth understanding loneliness better.

Scratching the surface of being lonely

Just as you might find it hard to understand how people native to New Zealand might be lonely, it’s also hard for them to really grasp how very lonely you might be: what it’s like:

Longing to hear

... your name pronounced properly without having to tell people.

Your passion

... being misunderstood as argumentative.

Missing collaboration

... always having to work alone.

Lacking privacy

... living in an overcrowded home.

Feeling disrespected

... when you can’t introduce yourself in your cultural way.

Being one of our Pasifika gives rise to many challenges with regard to feeling lonely…

… and in addition to these, you undoubtedly identify with many of the same loneliness problems that aren’t related to your ethnicity or culture.

Prevalence of loneliness

While you are part of a community-based people who lively closely together, this does not mean some of you do not become lonely. In fact, the prevalence of loneliness amongst Pasifika people is only a little less than New Zealand European with about one-third (32.7%) of Pasifika people aged 15+ feeling lonely at least a little of the time in the last four weeks.

So you are not to be ashamed as a New Zealand Pasifika person if you feel lonely.  At the same time, you should be proud of the relatively low prevalence of loneliness in your community. This shows that even while your Pasifika people struggle with issues that are typically associated with loneliness (such as unemployment, financial problems, no qualification, and low home ownership) you continue to support one another.

Pie charts comparing European and Pasifika New Zealanders aged 15+ feeling lonely in last four weeks

Exposing loneliness

Feeling socially isolated occurs when people, like you, are not connected into their communities in a meaningful way.  Society, other people and we ourselves unwittingly contribute to loneliness. To name a few, loneliness resulting from being Pasifika might be exacerbated when:

  • Everyone at work speaks in “professional jargon” so it is hard to keep up with what is being discussed.
  • Teachers constantly single you out which erodes your confidence.
  • You have never had the opportunity to learn your national language.
  • You are struggling financially and are too proud to ask for help.
  • Your boss constantly gives you boring work while offering greater challenges to others.
  • You don’t identify with your grandchildren who don’t value family life and your cultures the same way as you do.

These are very real issues for you;
and some are not quick fixes! So despite these challenges it’s vital you actively find ways to ensure you – and those around you – are emotionally healthy.

Exhibiting signs of being lonely

Solitude is very important for people to reflect and to come to grips with their situation. Being lonely for short periods is also not necessarily unhealthy. What we are considering is the type of loneliness which is prolonged and might be damaging to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Some people talk about their loneliness; other’s don’t. Some might not recognise that they are actually suffering from loneliness.

When people are already lonely, having people around you that you aren’t able to connect with on a deeper level, might even make your loneliness worse.

Research has shown that when socially isolated people aren’t getting enough regular human contact that can create problems with their family members and people who they do end up talking to.

This manifests behaviour such as:

  • Misbehaving at school… in total contrast to how you behave at home.
  • Disengaging from work… feeling low motivation to do more.
  • Feeling guilty when you consider yourself… when your whole family’s values are about community.
  • Withdrawing from your community service work… which had been a big part of everyday life for you.
  • Becoming isolated from family and friends… when you do well in a business very different to other Pasifika.
  • Limiting friendships to only socialise amongst extended family.

These are just the surface of the ways you might be showing signs of being lonely… and that you could recognise in others.
So where to from here?

Conquering loneliness

We appreciate…

you all have a unique story.

How long you have been lonely;  What you believe causes your particular loneliness; and what you have already tried to alleviate the loneliness.

To get to the heart of your loneliness we would like to get to know you!

Your personality, your eccentricities, and your values are all part of what makes you feel your loneliness more than some others.

Your next step

We appreciate the trust you would place in us to talk openly and frankly – so we promise no judgements – genuine empathy, respect and confidentiality.

Then when we have understood you better, we can help you move forward. Help you form better connections with your spread out communities, with your friends and your families…wherever they are in the world.

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button to get started addressing your loneliness:

People feel lonely for many reasons. To learn more about other minority and lonely categories, select one of the coloured boxes below, or scroll down the “I’m feeling lonely” menu.

Loneliness NZ square I'm feeling lonely logo

With our help you can conquer your loneliness by taking better care of your inner self.

And we can conquer loneliness in New Zealand by better understanding and accepting each other.

So when you are ready…click here.

We look forward to hearing your view of the world!

Stats NZ (2016), “Well-being Statistics: 2016.” Download the data.