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Asia New Zealand Foundation Media Newsletter May

Asia New Zealand Foundation
May 2005

Kia ora, sawadee. Welcome to the May issue of the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter. The past few weeks have seen a re-ignition of the debate over immigration, a visit by the Prime Minister of Vietnam, and an announcement by the government that it will sign the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. There's also a prime ministerial trip to Japan and China signalled and a forthcoming general election to ponder.

In this issue:
* Welcome to the ethnic media ghetto
* Hourly news on Radio Tarana
* iBall to go weekly
* Going bananas
* New Zealand to sign ASEAN treaty
* Making it in the new Asia
* Four charged with Alicia Ramos' murder
* Comings and goings
* China cracks down on environmental abuse
* Gaijin and war crimes
* Election enrolment targets Asians
* New Zealander wanted for work in China


Welcome to the ethnic media ghetto

It's the good news story that the mainstream media hasn't yet begun to tell.

The explosion in the non-English language news and entertainment media - Maori, Pacific Island, Middle Eastern, African and Asian - in New Zealand has been nothing short of astonishing and is a reflection of this country's rapid evolution as a multicultural society.

There is no place where this is more obvious than in Auckland, our largest and most multicultural city, a magnet to new migrants. Much of that influx has come in just the last five years.

By 2021, according to Statistics New Zealand, the proportion of the New Zealand population that identifies itself as Pakeha is expected to fall from about 79 percent to 70 percent.

By then, the agency anticipates that people with Asian ethnicity will jump from 7 to 15 percent of the population - comprised mainly of Chinese and South Asians.

Even with lower net migration inflows due to immigration policy changes, it's estimated that in 15 years, 12-13 percent of the population will identify themselves as Asian.

A Nielsen Research Panorama study released in February showed that New Zealanders generally, and Aucklanders in particular, were increasingly comfortable about the country's growing ethnic diversity.

You can see the face of that diversity reflected in the city's Asian media. Auckland boasts three Chinese language radio frequencies and is also home to two predominantly Hindi language stations. Remarkably, one of these, Radio Tarana, recently registered a substantial slice of the total commercial radio audience.

Ethnic television also has a significant footprint. World TV broadcasts on Sky TV's digital service in Chinese, Japanese and Korean from its studios in Penrose and there's the cosmopolitan mix of Triangle TV - Auckland's community access channel.

In the Auckland print media, there are at least 14 publications catering for the Chinese speaking population alone, while South Asian communities are served by four newspapers - in English, Hindi and Punjabi. There are also Korean and Japanese publications.

As exotic and niche as it is, this thriving and diverse media market poses difficult and interesting questions for the ratings and circulation driven mainstream or 'big' media.

The relevant questions that loom large for news editors and news room managers include; do we reflect the rapid transformation New Zealand society has undergone, are we prepared for the well-signalled population trends ahead, and if we want to count on migrants to read, listen or watch our product, how inclusive are we of their views, concerns and community events?

People in ethnic minorities - including the most news significant, Maori - will tell you that big media generally has yet to get the balance right. A Journalists Training Organisation seminar in Auckland last month on reporting refugee issues warned of the dangers of semiotic suggestion in news reporting.

Many Iraqi New Zealanders who came to New Zealand as refugees from Saddam Hussein's nasty regime would certainly concur, having recently been tarred with the same brush as a tiny number of alleged former Saddam loyalists by headlines such as Oops, Wrong Iraqi.

Many overseas born Chinese are hurting in a similar way over protracted coverage given to drivers' licence scams which in all likelihood also involves a small minority of licence seekers and driving instructors.

The frustration and sense of grievance felt at perceived misrepresentation by the big media finds an outlet in the media serving that particular language group. The evidence can be seen on Chinese language websites or heard on radio talkback, with the focus on a sense of alienation, rather than integration.

Journalists don't have to be told that theirs is a huge responsibility because their work determines how a particular group of people will be perceived by the wider community. But many within those communities will tell you that they suspect the big media creates a perception which is invariably more often negative than positive.

This is where the ethnic media has the potential to be a key player for its big media counterparts. It can claim the support of its community of readers, listeners or viewers and can serve as a cultural bridge through which the views within a community can be filtered and reported.

But the onus is on reporters to cultivate links with that industry. Making contacts is an integral part of any journalist's job because everyone knows that trust will get you the best stories.

This country has changed dramatically in the past ten years and is continuing to change. Multicultural New Zealand has an unstoppable momentum and the responsibility is on the big media to catch up and even try and get ahead of the game.

New Zealand's increasing ethnic diversity should be a target rich news environment but only a few journalists are working its depths while most are fishing in the shallows. Can we honestly say that what we see in the news is a reflection of New Zealand's evolving society? At this stage the answer can only be - not yet.


Hourly news on Radio Tarana

Radio Tarana, which has leapt onto the radar of the commercial radio market in Auckland, is now providing hourly news bulletins five days a week as it seeks to establish itself as the country's first Asian commercial radio station.

The station, which broadcasts on 1386AM, previously had just two news programmes - at 7.30am and 7pm. It has been getting its international content through a deal which allows it to use BBC Hindi and Urdu news services off the internet.

Managing director Robert Khan says there are now arrangements to use local news from domestic news sources and the service will also include a regular correspondent in Fiji.

A week long trial of hourly news bulletins was carried out in April and the change was made permanent at the beginning of May.

He says developing a full news team is one of the station's main priorities and something that would help make it more professional in Auckland's competitive commercial radio spectrum.

In the Nielsen Media Research survey results released in February, Radio Tarana was shown to have 4.4 percent of the Auckland commercial radio listening audience where it ranks alongside George FM (also on 4.4 percent) and ahead of the BBC World Service (3.3 percent).

The survey said 71,000 people living in the Auckland region identified themselves as ethnic Indians, accounting for 6.7 percent of the city's total population. Of these, 39,000 were Radio Tarana listeners, representing 55 percent of that ethnic segment.

Robert Khan confirmed the station was in the process of securing a Wellington frequency on which to extend its coverage.


iBall to go weekly

Christchurch's pioneering bilingual newspaper iBall is also expanding - from a monthly to a weekly.

The paper, which has a print run of 20,000, has been a ground-breaking publication for its multicultural message, bold design and articles in English and Chinese.

iBall's managing editor Lincoln Tan, originally from Singapore, says an influx of capital by a group of investors has made the expansion possible.

From early August, the 24-page newspaper will be printed in three editions, each serving different parts of Christchurch.

Two new journalists have been employed increasing the reporting staff to four. One of the new reporters is Lin Yang who was born in China and is the first Asian to graduate with a Masters in Journalism in New Zealand.

Lincoln Tan, who began the paper because he was unable to get a job after coming to New Zealand, says he is also negotiating with an Auckland publisher to have iBall printed and distributed there. There are also plans for the paper to expand to a 32-page format.



As New Zealand goes through this transition period into a more multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, there is a need for diverse views to be heard. iBall editorial


Going bananas

The organisers of the Crouching Tiger Hidden Banana conference in Auckland next month say it is a genuine attempt to bridge the gap in understanding between New Zealand born Chinese and recent Chinese migrants.

One of the issues which the recent influx of Chinese migrants has exposed is the division between local born and overseas born Chinese with many of the latter feeling unsupported in their efforts to integrate by the former.

Conference organisers say they hope the event will address key issues and raise critical debate around challenges faced by both local and overseas born Chinese.

The conference, which is on at the Auckland University of Technology from June 4-5, is being organised by the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association. The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a sponsor of the event.

"The thrust of the conference will be on the evolving identity of Chinese New Zealanders - past, present and future," said branch chairman Kai Luey. He is also urging people from wider communities such as Maori, Pakeha, Asian and Pacific Island to attend.

"Communities don't exist and function in isolation. They must work together to live together. To do that we must be prepared to tackle tough social issues," said Mr Luey.

For journalists wanting to attend, a media accreditation form can be downloaded from the following link at


New Zealand to sign ASEAN treaty

New Zealand has decided in principle to sign a friendship treaty with Southeast Asian nations.

Signing the agreement - or announcing an intent to do so - is a criteria set by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to participate in an East Asian Summit later this year.

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation has been described as a non-aggression pact, but Prime Minister Helen Clark said in a statement announcing the decision that the government's view was that it would not constrain New Zealand's foreign policy.

"We believe it will not change anything at all about the way in which we interact with ASEAN," Miss Clark told reporters. "It does not restrict our right to make comment on matters of human rights and democracy."

The treaty, signed by ASEAN's founding members in 1976, was seen by ASEAN countries as essential to closer ties, Miss Clark said. "New Zealand is committed to strengthening its links with ASEAN countries."

Participation at the inaugural summit - which would also include South Korea, Japan, China and probably India - would represent a diplomatic coup for New Zealand, especially in light of Australian seeming reluctance to sign the treaty.

Australia is concerned it could impact on its alliance with the United States, as well as its ability to speak out on human rights abuses.

Members of ASEAN have varying views about the importance of signing the treaty, with Vietnam saying it should not be a prerequisite for attendance at the summit.

But summit host Malaysia is adamant Australia needs to agree to the pact if it wants an invitation.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said an invitation would be forthcoming only if Australia signed the treaty. "Australia and New Zealand - if they sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation - they can come. We have no problem." NZPA


Making it in the new Asia

Asia:NZ and Export NZ will be running a series of seminars next month aimed at assisting exporters and business people wanting to break into Asian markets.

Using case studies and new research, the seminars will feature speakers who can offer expert advice on how to go about developing business relationships in Asian countries.

Some of the issues to be covered include; changing demographics; economic growth patterns and structures; migration and mobility of labour; and trade and investment flows.

The seminars will be held from June 20-23 in Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. More information will be available closer to the seminar dates. If any journalists would like to attend, please contact Asia:NZ's media adviser Charles Mabbett at


Four charged with Alicia Ramos' murder

Four people face murder and theft charges in Manila in connection to the killing of a former Philippines ambassador to New Zealand, Alicia Ramos.

Ms Ramos, 64, died at the hand of intruders in her home in the suburb of Makati on April 24. She served as the Philippines Ambassador in Wellington for six years, from 1996 to 2002.

New Zealanders who knew Alicia Ramos, who was appointed to the post of assistant secretary for Asia Pacific affairs at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs in 2003, have reacted with shock and sadness to news of her death.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff, who had met her on many occasions in Wellington and subsequently in Manila, says he was personally saddened by the news. "She was a warm, pleasant and likeable person with many good friends in New Zealand. All of us who knew her are devastated by her loss and the circumstances of her death."

He said in her role in Manila, Ms Ramos' strong links to New Zealand were seen in the way she encouraged and supported New Zealand's relationship with the Philippines and our bid for closer engagement with member nations of ASEAN."

Asia:NZ's culture director Jennifer King was another who personally knew Alicia Ramos. "I can picture her still, crossing the room with her hand outstretched and her face lit by the genuine warmth of her smile."

Ms King said Ms Ramos gave her support and encouragement to Asia:NZ's Festivals of Asia during her time in Wellington and assisted in bringing out Filipino performers to participate.

"Alicia made many good friends in New Zealand, all of whom will be greatly saddened by the horrible circumstances of her death," Ms King said.


Comings and goings

Two New Zealand journalists will travel to Asia this month on reporting assignments with the support of Asia:NZ.

Freelance broadcaster and journalist Keith Richardson will travel to East Timor to report on the country's progress on its second anniversary of independence.

New Zealand Herald assistant editor Fran O'Sullivan will travel to China to research a series of articles on the rise of China and its likely impact on New Zealand.

A reminder that the Asia:NZ Media Travel Grants for North Asia close on May 18.

Other Media Travel Grant deadlines are July 20 for Southeast Asia and September 15 for South Asia.


China cracks down on environmental abuse

By Dr Jian Yang

In January, China's environmental watchdog ordered 30 large industrial projects spanning 13 provinces and valued at more than US$13.7 billion to stop on the grounds that they failed to conduct mandatory environmental impact assessments.

It is the first time the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) used the power to halt projects it was granted under the National Environmental Assessment Law which came into effect in September 2003. Twenty-six of the 30 projects were energy projects.

While the Chinese analysts and media were still interpreting the motives and impact of SEPA's 18 January order, SEPA announced on 27 January a list of 46 thermal power plants that posed a threat to the environment because of their lack of desulphurisation equipment. SEPA demanded that the problem be rectified by year-end.

In what is known as the "environmental protection storm", SEPA seems determined to assert itself. "We must sharpen our teeth. We shall never be rubber stamps. We must take concrete actions," Pan Yue, deputy director of SEPA, has said.

The agency's moves also have much to do with China's economic problems. The government might well be using environmental policy to cool down the overheating power sector and ease demand for coal. China's National Development and Reform Commission estimates that by 2009, there would be a 30 percent surplus in capacity if all power projects now under way were completed.

The economic factor is important for some other reasons. China uses seven times more natural resources than Japan and six times more than the United States to produce US$10,000 worth of goods. For every $1 of GDP produced, China spends three times the world average on energy.

Estimates of the economic cost of environmental damage in China vary widely. A 1997 World Bank report showed that the damages caused by pollution and degraded resources consumed up to 8 percent of China's GDP, roughly equal to the annual growth of the country's economy. Other estimates put the cost as high as 12 percent. Health costs are likely come into billions of dollars.

SEPA's moves were after all a direct result of the environmental pressure that China faces. Nearly half of China's 1.3 billion people drink water contaminated with chemicals and biological wastes. Sixteen of the 20 worst cities in the world for air pollution are in China. Violence over environmental disputes has become increasingly common and is threatening social stability, a top priority of the Chinese government.

Beijing has been sending increasingly clear and strong messages on the environment. An important step is to make environmental protection a key factor in the rating of local officials' political performance as part of the implementation of China's sustainable development strategy. Officials who simply stress economic growth but turn a blind eye to environmental protection will suffer reduced promotion chance.

Beijing is also making earnest efforts to improve and strengthen its environmental laws. In March 2005, the National People's Congress passed its first ever renewable energy law which requires power grid operators to purchase resources from registered renewable energy producers.

But, given the importance of economic development to China's social and political stability, environmental activists will continue to have an uphill battle in China.

Dr Jian Yang received his BA and first MA from Chinese universities. He did his second MA and PhD in International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU). He is a lecturer at the Political Science Department at the University of Auckland.


Gaijin and war crimes

War crimes committed by the Japanese army during the Sino-Japanese War last century are one of the central issues explored in a first novel written by a New Zealand author.

Carl Shuker wrote the novel The Method Actors since moving to Tokyo in 1999 after graduating from Victoria University and the University of Canterbury.

He says his book deals in part with the various revisionist histories attached to key events during that period including the 1937 Nanking massacre during which at least 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed.

His work also included extensive research on the Tokyo War Crimes Trials at the end of Second World War. Japan's invasion of China - one of the preludes to the Second World War - is a lightning rod for contemporary tensions between the two North Asian countries.

China has accused Japan of glossing over events like the Nanking massacre in new school textbooks. The issue triggered violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China last month and sent relations between Beijing and Tokyo plummeting.

Carl Shuker says there is a little known New Zealand connection. A New Zealand judge, Erima Harvey Northcroft, was one of the Allied judges that passed judgement on the accused Japanese military leaders.

He says there is poor awareness of the Tokyo trials today even though they were of equal importance historically and legally as the Nuremberg trials. People are also generally unaware of the roles played by Justice Northcroft and the man convicted over the Nanking massacre, General Matsui Iwane.

The 30-year-old author studied Justice Northcroft's original records of the trials, historic documents which are kept in the University of Canterbury library. Mr Shuker says there needs to be greater recognition of the major role the New Zealand judge played in the formation of modern international laws of warfare with his judgement.

The Method Actors traces the disappearance of a young, gifted Japanese-New Zealand military historian named Michael Edwards. It took two and a half years to write and involved a lot of reading and visits to sites around Tokyo, including the Yuushuukan War Museum and the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, one of the focal points for China's unhappiness with Japan.

"One starting point for the book was the question of how much an individual is worth if three hundred thousand lives could be so cheap as to become literally debatable," Mr Shuker said.

"The debate over the Nanking war crimes specifically, and revisionism - especially of the politicised kind, more generally - is the moral storm I wanted to place my young gaijin characters inside."

The Method Actors will be published overseas in next month and Carl Shuker hopes it will be available in New Zealand bookstores in spring. Contact Carl Shuker at .


Election enrolment targets Asians

It's election year and the Electoral Enrolment Centre is making a concerted effort to get people from Asian communities enrolled.

The centre says a new feature of its enrolment campaign is targeting Asian communities to raise awareness about the need to enrol to vote and how to enrol.

The centre's national manager Murray Wicks says a number of strategies are being employed to reach Asian communities.

"Translated material and fliers are being used to provide the enrol to vote message to communities who have English as a second language," he said. "We're going to expos, fairs, malls and markets with the translated information to reach people in other ways."

The Electoral Enrolment Centre is also running educational workshops for the Chinese and Korean communities in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

In early July, there are plans for a conference in Auckland which will addressed at overseas born young Asian New Zealanders, discussing Asian participation in the election and emerging Asian voting power.


New Zealand journalist wanted for work in China

The Xinhua News Agency - China's state news agency - is looking for a New Zealander to work in its main offices in Beijing, polishing copy for its English language publications.

The successful candidate will have a good knowledge or strong interest of China with at least three years experience as a journalist, editor or teacher.

The salary range is between 4,000 and 6,000 RMB per month, and conditions include accommodation at the Friendship Hotel in Beijing, return flights to New Zealand, four weeks paid annual leave and a free transport to and from work.

Send applications to Mr Wenhui Xia, Xinhua's chief correspondent in New Zealand, at 6 Nether Green Crescent, Johnsonville, Wellington.


The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in June. If you want to stop receiving this newsletter, you can unsubscribe at our website The views expressed by various contributors to the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter, please contact Asia:NZ's media adviser Charles Mabbett at

He iwi tahi tatou - we many peoples make up a nation.

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