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New Zealand Chinese

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Title: New Zealand Chinese  
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New Zealand Chinese

Template:Use New Zealand English

New Zealanders of Chinese Origin
華裔紐西蘭人 or 华裔新西兰人
Template:Image array
Total population
3.7% of the population of New Zealand (2006)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups

A Chinese New Zealander (simplified Chinese: 华裔新西兰人; traditional Chinese: 華裔紐西蘭人; Mandarin Pinyin: Huàyì Xīnxīlánrén; Jyutping: waa4 jeoi6 nau2sai1laan4 jan4) is a New Zealander of Chinese descent. They constitute one group of Overseas Chinese and represent the second largest Chinese community in Oceania behind the Chinese community in Australia. Many Chinese New Zealanders are immigrants along with their descendants from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, as well a handful of other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore who have immigrated from Southeast Asia that include large populations of the Chinese diaspora.[2] As of 2006, Chinese New Zealanders account approximately three percent of the total population of New Zealand, and represent the largest Asian ethnic group in New Zealand accounting approximately 44% of the entire Asian New Zealander populatiion.[3]

The last records of ethnic Chinese in New Zealand were the immigrants from Guangdong province, China, who arrived during the 1860s goldrush era. Due to this historical influx, there is still a distinct Chinese community in the Southern city of Dunedin, whose former mayor Peter Chin is of Chinese descent. However, most Chinese New Zealanders live in the North Island, and are of more recent migrant heritage.[4]


In the 2001 Census, 3% of the total New Zealand population (100,680 people) identified as Chinese[5][6][7]

Chinese immigrants to New Zealand tend to live in two major cities in New Zealand, Auckland and Christchurch. The majority of Chinese New Zealanders were from Mainland China, Taiwan made up a third of all immigrants and ten percent came from Malaysia. The remainder of Chinese immigrants to New Zealand came from Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Indonesia.[8]


Early Immigrants (1865-1945)

The first immigration to New Zealand took place on the strength of two invitations from New Zealand's Otago goldmining region to potential goldminers of Guangdong province in 1865. These original goldmining communities suffered discrimination due to racist ideology, the economic competition they represented to the Europeans, and because of the implied 'disloyalty' within their transient, sojourner outlook.[9] While many believe there was a 'White New Zealand' policy similar to Australia's, New Zealand never had such a policy openly sanctioned and was open to Pacific Island immigration from its early history.[10] However in the 1880s, openly sinophobic political ideology resulted in the New Zealand head tax, also known as the 'Poll Tax', aimed specifically at Chinese migrants. Despite official barriers the Chinese still managed to develop their communities in this period, and numbers were bolstered when some wives and children from Guangdong Province were allowed in as refugees just before World War II. Chain migration from Guangdong continued until the new Communist Chinese regime stopped emigration. This original group of Cantonese migrants and their descendants are referred to in New Zealand as 'Old Generation' Chinese, and are now a minority within the overall Chinese population.[11]

After the Second World War (1945-1999)

Ethnic Chinese communities from countries other than China began establishing themselves in New Zealand between the 1960s and 1980s. These included ethnic Chinese refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos following the conflicts and upheavals in those countries; Commonwealth (i.e. English educated) professional migrants from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia; and Samoan Chinese as part of the substantial Pacific labour migrations of the 1970s.

Between 1987–96, a fundamental change in New Zealand’s immigration policy led to a substantial influx of ethnic Chinese business, investor, and professional migrants, particularly from Hong Kong and Taiwan. This period saw a spike in overall migration from the Asian region, including other Chinese people from East Asia and Southeast Asia. New Zealand's immigration system increasingly experienced the impact of global events, such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the May 1998 riots of Indonesia in which many Chinese were affected.

Since 2000

The nationalist New Zealand First Party fought the 1996 general election on an anti-immigration and very thinly veiled 'anti-Asian' platform,[12] winning the balance of power and altering immigration policy towards skills-based immigration. From the late 1990s to the 2000s, skilled migrants from Mainland China became the new significant demographic group of Chinese immigrants.

In 2002, the New Zealand Government publicly apologised to the Chinese for the poll tax that had been levied on their ancestors a century ago.[13]

In 2010, Mainland China for the first time has become New Zealand's top source country for family immigration through the Family Sponsored Stream and the Partnership policy in New Zealand, as large numbers of Chinese nationals choose to study abroad in New Zealand and then gain the recognized qualifications to obtain skilled employment in New Zealand.[14]


English is by far the most widely spoken language among the usually resident Asian population in New Zealand. Nonetheless the next most common language after English in New Zealand was Yue or Cantonese (16 percent of Asian people with a language) and Northern Chinese or Mandarin (12 percent).[15] Some Chinese New Zealanders also adhere to speaking Malay and Indonesian due to a small influx of Chinese immigrants from Southeast Asia.[16]



New Zealand earns $1.76 billion annually from the array of international students that study each year in New Zealand universities. international students, and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs records that export education is worth more to New Zealand than its fourth largest export sector which is seafood.[17] China is New Zealand’s largest international education market, as 30,000 Chinese students studied in New Zealand higher education institutions in 2002, twice the number of students that studied in 2001.[17]

While New Zealand teachers and parents generally choose a lenient approach for children’s learning literature shows a contrary belief and practice among Chinese immigrant parents in New Zealand show that they place much more value on children's academics than focusing on the playful aspects. Chinese immigrant parents on the other hand see homework as a catapult for higher education as well as to prepare their children to pursue greater academic achievement. Chinese parents continue to uphold their Chinese Confucian cultural values and pursue academic learning for their children, while Western parents and teachers tend to follow a play and child-centered techniques. The findings show that different or even contradictory expectations and practices exist between Chinese immigrant parents Chinese immigrant parents see education and schoolwork as the preparation, revision, and extension of children’s knowledge Learning is revered in Chinese culture is it reinforces the child's overall cognitive development during their early childhood years. Thus a sense of family obligation acts as children’s extrinsic motivation to perform well academically.[18]

A high value on education is placed among Chinese New Zealand families.[19] Chinese New Zealanders rank the fourth highest ethnic group among Asian New Zealanders with 22 percent holding a bachelor's degree. Among New Zealand-born Chinese, 23 percent had obtained a degree comparable to 23% for Asian New Zealanders but nearly twice the national average of 12%.[20] 38. 1% of Chinese New Zealanders in 1994 gained a university bursary, as compared with 23% of their Pakeha counterparts, 4.4% of Maori and 5.2% of Pacific Islanders and a national average of 19%.[21]


Among the Asian population, several groups had rates of labour force participation as high, if not higher, than the total New Zealand population. The New Zealand-born Chinese populations had high rates of participation, with 75 percent of Chinese New Zealanders participating in the workforce. Overseas-born New Zealand Chinese, who accounted for a third of the Asian population, had a labour force participation rate of 45 percent in 2001. Overseas-born Chinese people (86 percent) were slightly more likely to hold a qualification than Chinese people born in New Zealand (83 percent)[22] New Zealand-born and overseas-born Chinese (47 percent and 44 percent, respectively) are working in selected white collar professions compared to 40% for the total New Zealand population and 43% for Asian New Zealanders.[23] Chinese New Zealanders also register an unemployment rate lower than the national average, where overseas-born Chinese had an unemployment rate of 15% and New-Zealand born Chinese had an unemployment rate of 8%. Therefore on average, the overall unemployment rate of 11.5% was lower than the total New Zealand population of 17%.[24]


In 2001, New Zealand-born Chinese had a higher median income (NZ$20,200) than the national average(NZ$18,500) where it remained one of the highest median income among all ethnic groups in the region, yet overseas-born Chinese New Zealanders had a median income less than half of the national median (NZ$7,900).[25] New Zealand-born Chinese populations are also more likely to receive income from wages and salaries (66 percent and 65 percent, respectively) than the total New Zealand population, and equally as likely as the total New Zealand population to receive income from self-employment (17 percent and 16 percent, respectively). 35 percent of New Zealand-born Chinese received income from investments in 2001, which was higher than the national average of 25%. Common investments such as the traditional pension plan, stocks, bonds, and commodities such as gold and silver.[26]

Access to amenities

Among the Chinese ethnic group, overseas-born Chinese (69 percent) had higher levels of Internet access than New Zealand-born Chinese (58 percent) creating an overall rate of 63.5% where had it had a higher level of household Internet access than the overall New Zealand population of 43%.[27]

Notable people

See also

New Zealand portal
China portal


External links

  • Entry on Chinese New Zealanders in Te Ara, the Online Dictionary of New Zealand
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