New Zealanders' Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples 2024

Now in its 27th year, the latest Perceptions of Asia survey shows New Zealanders continue to see the Asia region as being very important to New Zealand’s future. New Zealanders’ interests in Asia are growing year-on-year, particularly among young New Zealanders. New Zealanders’ knowledge of the region is also at an all-time high. 
A photo of a mosque with a purple sky behind it and lights reflected in a lake

Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples 2024 (cover image)

How do New Zealanders see Asia and the places within it? How much do New Zealanders know about Asia? How much trust do New Zealanders have in major powers to act responsibly in the world?

These are just a handful of the questions asked in the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples annual survey, New Zealand’s longest running and most comprehensive dataset on how New Zealanders are viewing Asia.

Perceptions of Asia is a flagship annual survey providing the only longitudinal data on New Zealand’s engagement with Asia. The survey provides New Zealand’s research and international affairs community, media, government officials and public with insights into New Zealanders’ connections to and perceptions of Asia.

Watch a slideshow of a selection of infographics from this year's Perceptions of Asia research

The survey informs New Zealand public discourse on Asia and the Foundation’s plan of work to equip New Zealanders to thrive in Asia.

This report presents the results from a survey of 2,300 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over, conducted between 6-28 November 2023. Survey results have been weighted using 2018 Census data so that they are representative of New Zealanders by age, gender, ethnicity and geography.

Below are a few key findings from this year's report. 

How important are different world regions to New Zealand’s future? 

Asia is seen as the second most important region to New Zealand’s future. Within Asia, New Zealanders view North Asia as the most important to New Zealand’s future, and China and Japan are seen as the two most important Asia countries, followed by India and Singapore. 

An infographic showing which regions New Zealanders feel are very important or important to New Zealand's future

An infographic showing which regions New Zealanders feel are important or very important to New Zealand's future

How much do New Zealanders know about Asia? 

New Zealanders’ knowledge of Asia is at an all-time high. Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported knowing ‘at least a fair amount’ about Asia.

This is a significant increase from 10 years ago: in 2013 only one-third (33 percent) of New Zealanders considered themselves knowledgeable about Asia. However, despite the steady increase, and widespread recognition of Asia’s importance to New Zealand’s future, knowledge of Asia still lags behind New Zealanders’ knowledge of our traditional partners. 

How much do New Zealanders know about Asia’s sub-regions? 

New Zealanders’ knowledge of Asia’s sub-regions mirrors New Zealanders’ perceptions of each sub-region’s importance. Within North Asia, Japan is the country in Asia New Zealanders feel they know best, and the country they most want to know more about. 

An Infographic depicting new Zealanders' self-reported knowledge of Asia's sub-regions

New Zealanders' self-reported knowledge of Asia's sub-regions

Daily connections and entertainment

Over half of New Zealanders feel connected to Asian cultures in their daily lives. Auckland tops the list, with over two thirds of Aucklanders experiencing daily connections. Over a third of New Zealanders engage with Asia-related entertainment at least monthly.

Consumption is greatest among under 30s, with 23 percent engaging with Asia-related entertainment weekly and half consuming it monthly.

Online media sources are becoming more widely used for consuming Asia-related content

While traditional media is still the main source of information about Asia-related events, issues, or people (69 percent mention compared with 71 percent in 2022), there has been growth in the use of other types of media. 55 percent (unchanged from last year) of respondents mentioned websites as a source of information about Asia, 47 percent mentioned social media (up 10 percent from last year) and 17 percent mentioned pop culture, up 4 percent.

An infographic depicting where New Zealanders get their information of Asia from

Where do New Zealanders get their Asia news from

How much trust do New Zealanders have in major powers? 

Trust in major powers across the board remains low. New Zealanders express the most trust in middle power Australia, followed by the United Kingdom. Japan is New Zealand’s most trusted major power in Asia. 

Who has the most influence over New Zealand 

New Zealanders overwhelmingly see China as having the most influence over New Zealand currently (82 percent), and expect it to be the most influential in the future. New Zealanders also recognise the importance of India and expect India’s influence over New Zealand to grow in the future. 

An inforgraphic showing which country New Zealanders perceieve to have the most influence over this country. China leads the way on 82 percent of respondents, followed by Japan on 7 percent.

Which Asian country has the greatest influence over New Zealand currently?

Friend or threat? 

Japan is New Zealand’s best friend in the region, followed by Singapore and South Korea. Sentiment towards China remains mixed but has warmed since 2022. A third of New Zealanders now see China as a friend, while a similar amount sees China as a threat. Over half of New Zealanders also view India and the Philippines as friends. North Korea and Russia are seen as the two biggest threats to New Zealand. 

To read the report and see all the key findings, please download the pdf:

The Foundation's research programme commissions studies that support informed public conversations about New Zealand’s relationship with Asia. We also support the next generation of scholars through our postgraduate research grants.

The centrepiece of our research programme is our annual survey on New Zealanders’ perceptions of Asia and Asian peoples.  This has been running for over two decades and provides a unique longitudinal data set.