Allocating the Ni-Vanuatu RSE-workers

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Method & Design

This study departs from the micro-level views of some of the Ni-Vanuatu RSE workers in the Bay of Plenty area, NZ, in June of 2008. The focus has been to explore the worker’s perspectives, reflections, and experiences from the RSE scheme while in the working environment, which has been pursued by means of in-depth interviews. In doing so, an exploration into the causal relationships that yield high and low degrees of remittances has been made. The purpose of this causal exploration has served as a foundation for the design of a survey used in the interviews. The survey is provided in appendix 2. Based on the information obtained through contact with Ni-Vanuatu RSE workers, both in response to the survey and in regards to what they have chosen to fill me in with, the next step has been to follow-up the research by looking at agreements between the NZ Labor Department (DoL) and the Vanuatu Labor Department (VLD), and by requesting information from the DoL. In short, the systematic method of working this research forward has been from the bottom-up, which is from the micro-perspective of things.

Operationalization of Concepts

For the purpose of this study the concept of remittances is defined as a sum of money earned by the RSE-worker, through RSE-related work, while in NZ, and that is sent home to family members and relatives, via formal or informal channels, while the RSE-worker is in NZ. The operationalization of this concept has been covered by questions developed in the survey and via in-depth interviews. By asking about the amount of money that the workers have been able to send home, and the frequency of this activity during their stay in NZ, the concept of remittances has been operationalized and empirically measured. The operationalization of the concept has been placed into context of the earning, spending and saving patterns of each worker, also outlined as questions in the survey.

Allocating the Ni-Vanuatu RSE-workers

In order to obtain information about the exact locations of Ni-Vanuatu workers in NZ, a formal request has to be submitted to the DoL. According to NZ legislation, the DoL requires the person submitting the request to be located in NZ. It takes a minimum of 20 days to receive a reply. Considering the scope of this study, there was no such time available for communication with NZ bureaucracies. It was therefore Mr. McKenzie Kalotiti, in his capacity as the Honorary Consul of Vanuatu to NZ, who provided me with the information necessary to allocate the Ni-Vanuatu RSE workers. When the first contact had been established a test interview was conducted with one Ni-Vanuatu worker. This was done in order to see how well the survey worked in the interviewing environment. The test interview has not been included in this thesis. After the test interview, a second part of the survey was dropped as it became redundant. Snowballing has been the main method used to allocate respondents: after every interview I asked if the respondent new someone else that might be interested in participating in the study, or if the respondent new about other locations where Ni-Vanuatu RSE workers could be found. This approach generated a total of 23 interviews, some of which were in-depth and took several hours.

Anonymity & Principles of Ethics in Interviewing

Throughout the process of interviewing, several of the workers expressed great concern in regards to the anonymity of the study. As explained to all Ni-Vanuatu partaking in this study, no names will be displayed, merely age and gender. In fact, they were never asked to tell me their names. While extra information that can connect the respondents with this study exists, and while I have been given permission to use it, I have chosen to leave it out. The reason for this is simply because I do not believe that it is of particular relevance for the study. What are of importance in this study are the stories told by the respondents.
Because of the strong concerns over anonymity, I have occasionally avoided the use of digital recording. Simply because the respondents were uncomfortable knowing that their voices were being permanently captured. In cases like these, I have chosen to rely on handwritten notes. After each session, however, I immediately recorded my own reflections and additional information of relevance. After every interview, the questions and answers were read back to the respondent to make sure that there was no misconception in the information being transferred. This information, together with the information provided in the actual recordings is listed in the empirical sections of this thesis (Chapters 5 and 6).
Considering the circumstances, I am confident that sporadic use of digital recordings was the only way to pursue the study. Perhaps, someone could say that it would have been better to make digital recordings of all interviews. But as the topic of this thesis has shown to center around very sensitive issues for many of the workers, a decision to record might, instead, I think, have contributed to flaws in the data. Given the desired anonymity, it could be assumed that digital recordings would have made many of the respondents feel uncomfortable and inferior in their answers. And, most importantly, to record interviews against the will of any respondent is highly unethical and not something that I as a researcher would feel comfortable with. I have also explained to all participating respondents that the information they decided to share with me would be made accessible to the general public first after they had returned to Vanuatu. It has also been agreed that I will send a copy of this study to the National Library of Vanuatu located in the Cultural Center in Port Vila, Vanuatu, where the respondents will be able to access it. As part of the accessibility agreement, I have also been asked to send copies to other specific locations in Vanuatu.

1 Introduction
1.1 General Aim & Purpose of the Study
1.2 Demarcation & Target Group
1.3 Research Question
2 Previous and Ongoing Areas of Research
3Method & Design
3.1Operationalization of Concepts
3.2 Allocating the Ni-Vanuatu RSE-workers
3.3 Anonymity & Principles of Ethics in Interviewing
3.4Comparative Design and Follow-ups as a Method
3.5 Language Barriers & the Role of a Researcher
3.6 The Variables
4 The RSE Scheme
4.1Requirements for RSE Employers
4.2 Requirements for RSE Employees
4.3 Transitional RSE Scheme
5The Ni-Vanuatu RSE-worker
5.1 Te Puke
5.2 Te Puna
6 Combined Statistics
7 Analysis & Discussion
8 Summary of Key-findings & Recommendations
The Ni-Vanuatu RSE-Worker:Earning, Spending, Saving, and Sending

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