New Zealand sport and Asia: What’s the connection? 

The Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono wants to hear from New Zealand sportspeople who have worked, travelled or competed in Asia for new research examining how New Zealand sport engages in the region.

Events like the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics have helped grow New Zealanders’ familiarity with Asia. But there is currently no research that looks at the connections between New Zealand sport and Asia; or examines how New Zealand sports can become “Asia-equipped”.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation’s research project will map out the key trends behind Asia’s growing role in global sport and examine how New Zealand can support its sports communities to thrive in Asia in the future. The research will draw on the insights of New Zealand sportspeople who have had sports experiences in Asia.

The Foundation is commissioning Professor Holly Thorpe and Dr Tom Kavanagh at Te Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato to carry out the research.

“We are really excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with the Asia New Zealand Foundation", says Professor Thorpe. "Our athletes, teams, coaches, administrators, media and businesspeople have been travelling to Asian countries for sport-related purposes for decades, but we haven't been connecting the dots. In this research we are creating a space to map these trends and to learn from their experiences.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation sports adviser Kirsty Sharp says Asia is quickly becoming central to global sport. “Asia is playing host to global events, drawing talent from around the world, driving audience growth, and leading innovation in sport technology.

“In the coming years, New Zealand athletes, coaches and administrators are likely to be presented with more opportunities to engage with Asia. This research will explore how New Zealand’s sport sector can increase its engagement with Asia and make the most of future opportunities.”

The project team are seeking research participants; and would like to hear from a range of individuals who have a sport connection to Asia e.g. individuals who have competed as athletes in Asia, worked as a coach, official, or sport administrator in Asia, or had involvement in sport in Asia through business or the media.

Participants can either complete a short online survey or be interviewed by the project team. Those interested in doing a short interview can contact the researchers via email ( / for more information, and to book a time that suits them.

The completed research will be released in mid-2022.

The research is part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s wider research programme, which supports public conversations on New Zealand’s engagement with Asia.

For more information:

Rebecca Inoue-Palmer

Director Communications and Media

027 226 8707