Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples 2021

This latest New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples report marks 25 years of our perceptions research, which has played a significant role informing New Zealand’s engagement with Asia. We are pleased this latest survey finds New Zealanders are more aware of Asia, more interested in what happens there, and consider Asia to be more consequential to New Zealand’s future than ever before.

In 2021, 79 percent of New Zealanders believed that developing political, social, and economic ties with Asia was important for New Zealand’s future, up from 73 percent in 2020. This was the highest level ever, and a particularly striking finding when you consider the survey took place at a time when the pandemic had constrained New Zealand’s in-person engagement with Asia for nearly two years.

Watch a slideshow of infographics depicting some of the key findings from this year's report (The slideshow and individual graphics can be provided to media on request)

Screens went a small way towards filling gaps left by closed borders. New Zealanders are increasingly interested in entertainment and cultural content produced in Asia.

Sixty-two percent of New Zealanders said Asia-related entertainment was important for growing New Zealand’s interest in Asia, with the Korean Netflix show Squid Game playing a noteworthy role. However, New Zealanders also recognise the value of more active ways to develop relationships with Asia, including business and trade initiatives, political dialogue, travel and tourism, international education and cultural exchange.

We asked New Zealanders about their interest in overseas travel and were heartened to find the pandemic had not impacted interest in Asia travel for most.

Three out of four said they were interested in travelling offshore when it was possible and practical to do so. Asia was a priority destination, second only to Australia and for young people (under 30), it was the highest priority travel destination.

New Zealanders understand that Asia is a complex region and from time to time there will be challenges to navigate.

For this latest report, we added new questions to provide greater insights into New Zealanders’ views of security and political developments in Asia. The survey found most New Zealanders were aware of the military coup in Myanmar, and supportive of the New Zealand Government formulating a response.