Seminar Series

The Chinese in Bicultural New Zealand


Professor Manying Ip


University of Auckland

Time & Place

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 11:00:00 NZST in Law 411

All are welcome


New Zealand is a bicultural nation, where do the Chinese (aka ‘Asians’) fit within the cultural mosaic and the political discourse?
In an election year, the issue becomes even more pertinent, partly because many people conflate ‘Chinese’ with ‘immigrants’, even though the Chinese have settled in New Zealand for over 170 years.
Given the recent anti-immigration sentiment sweeping Europe and the United States, New Zealand’s current populism and racialized discourse on migration could benefit from more informed debates.
For example, successive opinion polls consistently show that Maori people tend to have a more conservative attitude towards immigrants, why is that so?
The seminar will examine the unfolding story of the Chinese in New Zealand, and also analyse the government’s immigration policy seeking quality migrants, showing how it changed the New Zealand ethnic scene from 1987 onwards.
Immigration policy is used by governments primarily as an economic tool to bring in people with high education, skills, and financial capital for the benefit of the country. In the pragmatic calculation the immigrants themselves are commodified, with their personal identity and long term interest conveniently forgotten. Very little attention is paid to the issues like social cohesion and the impact on other ethnic groups, bringing backlash.
As a visible minority, the Chinese have always faced formidable hurdles to negotiate their rightful place in bicultural New Zealand. In the 21st century, with China as an increasingly formidable power in the Pacific and a strong economic power in the region, the Chinese are looked upon with much ambivalence. This seminar will explore why the Chinese have long been on the fringe of New Zealand mainstream society despite their history, their numerical strength, and their considerable contribution and commitment.


Manying Ip is professor of Asian Studies at the University of Auckland. She is the well-known and respected author of several critically acclaimed books on the Chinese in New Zealand, including Being Maori-Chinese: Mixed Identities (AUP, 2008), and the editor of Unfolding History, Evolving Identity: The Chinese in New Zealand (AUP, 2003).