Asia key to New Zealand’s future, but all eyes are on India: Survey


New Zealanders of Asian heritage are helping to shape and inform culture, community relations, workplaces, policies and outlook in Aotearoa (Facebook photo)

Venu Menon
Wellington, June 19,2024

“One of the trends we’re watching is the rise of India and its perceived importance to New Zealand,” says Suzannah Jessep, chief executive of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Her comment comes in the context of the 2024 Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey.

The annual survey, now in its 27th edition, shows how New Zealanders view Asia and Asian people.

It shows the growing importance of Asia in the eyes of 75% of Kiwis, second only to Australia.

They see China and Japan as being important to New Zealand, followed by India. Singapore is ranked below India in terms of importance.

The survey shows India’s influence over New Zealand is set to grow over the next two decades.

But 82% of New Zealanders see China as the dominant influence over New Zealand.

However, China evokes mixed feelings, with 33% of respondents seeing it as a friend and 32% as a threat. The threat perception has fallen since the 2022 survey with 37% seeing China as a threat.

But Kiwis are drawn to Japan more than any other Asian country, and see it as an important defence and security partner.

While New Zealanders welcome Asian tourism, they are less open to immigration. Asian migrants feel their Asian heritage is a roadblock to career development. However,  there is a refreshing openness among young Maori towards Asians.

The survey finds nearly six out of 10 New Zealanders have travelled to Asia, mostly on holiday. Travel apart, attending festivals, exhibitions and community events is seen as a route for New Zealanders to get to know Asians.

But India has emerged as an unforeseen variable in the survey. The survey reflects the leap in public perceptions around India, attributing it to India’s economic growth and high foreign policy profile.

The New Zealand government’s overtures to India on trade are also a factor. Reinforcing that is the large volume of Indian migrant arrivals to New Zealand in 2023.

The survey finds 12% of New Zealanders believe India’s influence over New Zealand will grow in the future.

It says 52% of New Zealanders view India as a friend. “Those who regard India as a friend to New Zealand view both countries as sharing similar cultural, economic, sporting and democratic values. Both have historical ties due to Commonwealth membership. They note the fact that India is a fast- developing country with which New Zealand has a strong trade relationship.”

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is New Zealand’s leading authority on Asia.  The Foundation “provides experiences and resources to help New Zealanders build their knowledge, skills and confidence to thrive in Asia.”

Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington

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