At the Foundation, we have been concerned that the covid-19 pandemic, heightened global geopolitical tensions, and a more challenging economic environment would see New Zealanders losing enthusiasm for strengthening our connections to Asia.
In fact, the opposite appears to be true. In 2022,80 percent of New Zealanders said that developing political, social and economic ties with Asia is important for New Zealand’s future, an increase on 2021 and a significant rise from the 2019 survey figure (67 percent).
As well as seeing Asia as critical to our future, a significant majority of New Zealanders (65 percent) feel that it is more important for New Zealand to invest energy and resources into building partnerships with Asia than it was five years ago.
Most New Zealanders (88 percent) also see value in New Zealand having a long-term vision and plan for growing such partnerships. Over the past year the Foundation’s Seriously Asia Revisited work has looked at how far New Zealand has come with Asia over the past twenty years and what we need to do going forward to position New Zealand for success. Improving New Zealand’s ‘Asia capabilities’, or knowledge levels, cultural understanding and language skills will be critical to achieving progress.
The research presented in this report highlights New Zealand’s Asia knowledge gap: while New Zealanders know that Asia is critical for New Zealand’s future many still don’t know as much about the region as they do about North America, Europe and the Pacific.
While Asia knowledge levels have trended upwards over the past decade, there is significant scope to improve how much New Zealanders know about the world's most dynamic region.