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Asia:NZ Newsletter

Media Newsletter

June 2005

Kia ora, namaskar, welcome to Asia:NZ’s June media newsletter. So far this month; the Crouching Tiger Hidden Banana conference hits its mark, the storm over Schappelle Corby’s sentencing rumbles on, there’s an upcoming visit by Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and one by a celebrity Thai chef. We also preview an Asia:NZ business seminar series to help exporters do their homework on Asian markets.

In this issue:
- Conference rejects racism
- Do your homework, exporters told
- Comings and goings
- New station targets Indian listeners
- Meet the press
- Campaign targets 1.5 generation
- Schapelle who? A view from Jakarta
- Corby case: What Indonesians are saying
- Getting it right in Japan
- Thai recipes for diplomacy

Conference rejects racism

Anti-Asian discrimination is still a reality for both long established Chinese families and new migrants, even over 140 years after the arrival of the first Chinese in New Zealand, according to speakers at the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Banana conference.

The two day conference held at the Auckland University of Technology drew a mixed 200-strong crowd on each day, mainly Chinese settlers and newer migrants.

The event delved into the historical origins of Chinese migration to New Zealand, political participation, questions of identity, responsibilities under the Treaty, and showcased the contributions of creative and entrepreneurial Chinese New Zealanders.

But many speakers emphasised that while the country’s economic future was tied to Asia, it was obvious New Zealand was a long way from universal acceptance of people of Asian descent.

Professor Paul Spoonley from Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences said the 21st century would be the century of the Chinese.

For a trading nation such as New Zealand, the relationship with China would be one of great importance, and immigration was an essential part of this country’s future.

“You are one of the oldest communities in this country. You are also one of the newest. You have faced levels of racism and discrimination, both public and from government, which are unacceptable in a modern liberal democracy,” Prof Spoonley said.

“You have every right to be angry and revengeful and yet you continue to be optimistic. Racism directed at you has re-emerged and all of us need to say, no, such views are unacceptable and are certainly not part of New Zealand in the 21st century.”

Writer Tze Ming Mok harked back to the 1996 election campaign, saying “if people who don’t speak English well aren’t considered New Zealanders, what’s so great about being a New Zealander?”

She also reminded the predominantly Chinese audience that they were Asian as well as Chinese, and when politicians and media used the term as “a collective slander, we shouldn’t just dissociate from other Asians”.

“Let there be a collective response, we can build the coalitions, form the networks, build that understanding of differences between communities, and support each other where it counts”.

The editor of iBall, Lincoln Tan, said many new Asian migrants felt excluded from the debate over important issues that affected them like immigration and employment because they came from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“The sense of belonging, culture, identity and the meaning of being a New Zealander cannot come about unless there is inclusiveness in every aspect of life for each and every New Zealander.”

The director of Te Wananga O Raukawa, Colin Knox, urged Chinese New Zealanders to get involved in the debate over the Treaty but warned that Maori have deep concerns that the government would use multiculturalism as a pretext to ignore its Treaty obligations.

“Maori are not concerned that the Pakeha may not be primarily European in the future – why should they be? The presence of other races which have also experienced cultural and physical displacement may even be helpful.”

The conference received considerable media coverage. It got good previews in the New Zealand Herald and on TV3’s Campbell Live programme. Journalists attending the event included Errol Kiong for the NZ Herald, Keith Ng for The Listener, Gilbert Wong for Metro, Amy Wang for Asia Downunder. Other media represented included World TV, the Mandarin Times and the Chinese Herald.

The Crouching Tiger Hidden Banana conference ran from June 3 to 5 and was organised by the New Zealand Chinese Association with support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation. For more information about the speakers and presentations, go to

Do your homework, exporters told

New Zealand businesses, working without the benefit of a global image or brand, need to use science and work smarter to break into lucrative Asian markets.

Researchers Rolf Cremer and Bala Ramasamy say while nearly all the literature and “how to invest in China” guides appear more appropriate for large companies like Microsoft, Coca Cola and General Motors, being small shouldn’t be a hindrance.

At a business seminar series later this month, Prof Cremer and Dr Ramasamy say they intend to highlight five key strategies that younger and less known companies will need to follow if they are to be successful in China.

“Our strategies are based on a survey of New Zealand companies already operating in China as well as several focus group discussions with New Zealanders based in China.”

Their presentation is just one topic up for discussion at the “Making it in the New Asia” seminar series being held in Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. The seminars are being jointly presented by Asia:NZ and Export NZ.

One of the speakers, Asia:NZ’s research director Dr Rebecca Foley, says it’s well known Asia is a region of great opportunity for New Zealand business and one aspect of the seminars is to offer a scientific basis on how to target potential markets.

Presentations will also include new research on forecasting large scale changes or “megatrends” in selected countries in Asia.

Dr Foley says the megatrends research will help businesses understand how to segment Asia, select the segment with the most potential for their product or service and understand how those segments evolve.

Two other speakers, economist Kiersten Larsen and public policy specialist Nicholas Clark, say most enterprises in New Zealand are small and medium enterprises and they provide a very significant proportion of all employment.

The main objective of their presentation is to identify strategies, success factors and constraints of New Zealand businesses that have been successful in Asian markets.

The seminars will be held in Christchurch on June 20 at the Copthorne Central Hotel at 4-6pm; Wellington on June 21 at the Intercontinental Hotel at 4.30-6.30pm; Tauranga on June 22 at the Hotel On Devonport at 12.30-2.30pm; Auckland on June 23 at the Hyatt Hotel at 7.30-10.00am.

For more information on the “Making it in the New Asia” seminar series, please contact Asia:NZ’s media adviser Charles Mabbett at

Comings and goings

Three Media Travel Awards have been awarded for this year’s North Asia round.

Chris Harrington of TVNZ’s Sunday programme will receive Asia:NZ support for an assignment in Taiwan, Anna Claridge of The Press will travel to South Korea for a series of features about international students, and Ian Llewellyn of NZPA received support for a recent assignment in China and Japan.

The next deadlines are July 18 for South East Asia and September 15 for South Asia. Winning applicants have 80 percent of their assignment’s cost covered by Asia:NZ. More information is available at

And in case you missed it, the New Zealand media’s only full time Asia correspondent, TVNZ’s Charlotte Glennie, won the supreme award for television journalism at this year’s Qantas Media Awards, and was also named the best senior news reporter.

New station targets Indian listeners

The launch of Apna 990AM last month marks another milestone in the development of ethnic radio in Auckland.

The purchase of the 990AM frequency from a Chinese broadcast group now enables Apna to extend its reach and to compete with Radio Tarana, the station which has garnered nearly five percent of the Auckland radio listening market.

General manager Babu Chatterji told Indian Newslink that the frequency cost about $3 million and was now broadcasting using a five kilowatt transmitter with a range from Rotorua to Whangarei.

The station had been broadcasting on 101.7 FM on a low power frequency (LPFM) since March 2003 but its limited range had been a serious obstacle to building a significant audience.

LPFM signals are available to anyone who wants to set up a radio station but only on a three kilowatt signal compared with 5-10 kilowatts for commercial frequencies.

Apna, which was officially launched on the new frequency on May 1, is owned by the Sahil Family Trust. The new station will provide round-the-clock music, news, features and other programmes including talkback and competitions.

Apna can also be heard on SKY Radio channel 109 Digital.

Meet the press

One of the answers to the problems faced by new migrants is good journalism, according to three young Chinese New Zealanders at a New Zealand Herald lunchtime seminar last month.

The panellists, Tze Ming Mok, Tessie Chen and Alistair Kwun, were invited to lead the lunchtime discussion organised by the newspaper’s cultural diversity committee.

They say lack of social support is the biggest issue facing migrants but the analysis usually gets traded away for sensationalism – “even though real insight into people’s lives is a good story.”

“Migrants have some key problems in common. When people are not supported in a new environment, there will always be strain and trouble and exploitation, and there’s nothing particularly Asian about this,” says Tze Ming Mok.

The trio also staked out territory which has proved a minefield for the mainstream media - it’s portrayal of Asians and what it means by Asian.

“What is an Asian? Asia Minor, the Asian subcontinent, East Asia and Southeast Asia spans the globe from Turkey to Tokyo, from Siberia to Sarawak. So when the media refers to Asian crime, Asian immigration, Asian youth and Asian food, who are they talking about? We’re not sure. And we’re meant to be Asians,” Tze Ming Mok told the gathering of about 20 journalists.

“You all know it is wrong to perpetuate negative stereotypes. But you may not realise that for minorities who’s right to be here is constantly challenged, those stereotypes strike at the very heart of our identities, and have the power to seriously destabilise our feelings of security and belonging.”

The panellists urged journalists to seek out the real issues beneath the stereotypes and to incorporate them in their stories.

Campaign targets 1.5 generation

A conference specifically aimed at 1.5 generation Asian New Zealanders is part of an overall campaign to get new migrants enrolled to vote in the forthcoming election.

The event in Auckland on July 12 will feature guest speakers including political observers and media professionals who will discuss Asian participation in civil rights, particularly voting.

The term 1.5 generation is used by immigration academics to describe adolescents who are not first generation because they didn't choose to come to New Zealand. But they are not second generation, either – as they were born and spent part of their childhood in their country of origin.

The conference is one part of a nationwide campaign by the Electoral Enrolment Centre to take the voting message to Asian migrants. It takes several formats including Mandarin and Korean language workshops and advertisements on Asian radio, television, newspaper and websites.

The Minority Vs Power conference will be held in Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel from 6pm on July 12. For more information, contact Winnie Chang on 04 471 1168 or 027 231 8102.

Schapelle who? A view from Jakarta

By John McBeth

Derryn Hinch, the Melbourne-based talk show host with whom I began my journalistic career on the Taranaki Herald in the early 1960s, probably said it best in his well reported quote to CNN in trying to explain the uproar in Australia over the conviction and 20-year prison sentence handed down to beautician Schapelle Corby.

It was a little unkind, but how else to understand the extraordinary media circus that these days creates a momentum of its own in some of the most unlikely cases. Why not a similar outpouring of concern for the three Vietnamese-Australians, one on death row in Singapore and two in Vietnam for drug offences? Surely it can’t be because they’re Asian?

Indonesians are puzzled over what makes Corby so different from scores of other Australians caught with drugs on foreign shores. “Why should it become a national issue,” my Indonesian wife asked me. “Why don’t they expect due process of law.”

Sure the Indonesian legal system leaves a lot to be desired – and Indonesians know that better than most. But there were no pay-offs in this case. At the end of the day, it was a remarkably straight-forward trial. What would Australians have thought if there was a similar criticism in Indonesia over an Indonesian busted for drugs in Australia?

Corby may come from the class of people known as “battlers,” but you can’t expect Indonesians to sympathize on that score either. Indonesia is full of battlers. She’s also certainly not the first convicted dope trafficker to protest her innocence and claim to have been set up.

I recall a similar case in Bangkok in 1977 when an English nurse received a lengthy jail term for trying to smuggle heroin out of Thailand in a radio. She claimed it had been put there without her knowledge by her Chinese boyfriend, but an American narcotics agent told me later it was the second time she had acted as a courier on the run to Paris.

What is disquieting in this case perhaps is the way Indonesian authorities treat all drugs in a similar fashion. Corby was never going to get the death sentence on a marijuana charge, but 20 years’ imprisonment is a tough sentence for a plant that can be grown in the backyard.

Compare that to the 15 years an Italian defendant received last year in Bali for trying to smuggle 5 kilograms of cocaine - or the seven-year sentence handed down to a Mexican woman who was caught with 15 kilograms of hashish in 2001.

There is a feeling, given expression in the Indonesian media, that the court reacted to the uproar by handing Corby a heavier sentence than she otherwise would have got.

It is disturbing that Australians feel Indonesia owes them something after the 2002 Bali bombing and the assistance Canberra provided the victims of last December’s tsunami. Upholding the law is a totally separate issue.

All this raises questions about Australian society itself. For all the Asian immigration in recent years, there is still a substantial cross-section of people, many of them the progeny of immigrants themselves, who are both xenophobic and racist.

It’s not unusual. I’ve found it myself all over Asia. But, given their proximity to Asia and the amount of travelling they do, you somehow expect most Australians to have got over all that.

Amazingly, an absurd number of Australians still believe Indonesia is the biggest threat to their security. Indonesia can hardly deal with its own problems, let alone project power. Compared to the size of the country, its military is the smallest and least equipped in the region.

For all the uproar, there are two things about the Corby case that bothered fair-minded Indonesians. Boogie boards aren’t very heavy, so why didn’t she notice the extra four kilograms when she took it off the carousel.

And if the marijuana had been concealed there by baggage handlers at Sydney airport, how were their accomplices going to recover it at the other end?

Why didn’t she put locks on the side-pockets of the bag? Not a bad idea when travelling to places like Singapore and Malaysia, in particular, where only a small amount of marijuana draws a mandatory death sentence.

Then there’s the media. I’ve been around enough newspapers in the last 43 years to know how it works. Back in the 1970s, a British tabloid asked me to interview the British nurse and describe Bangkok’s Lard Yao Women’s Prison, the supposed “hell hole” where she was incarcerated.

Sure, there were high walls, but there were also lawns and flower gardens. The prisoner was baking cookies in a small kitchen. I told the newspaper I couldn’t in all conscience call it a hell hole – so the story never ran. I wished it had. I was a freelancer and I needed the money.

John McBeth is a veteran New Zealand journalist who has been based in Southeast Asia for 35 years.

Corby case: What Indonesians are saying

By Chris Holm

Siti Hotimah, who works in a small wooden street stall in central Jakarta selling groceries, thinks Corby is guilty and is lucky not to be on death row.

“Corby is absolutely getting better treatment than most people are dealt with by our justice system,” she said.

“When Indonesians get arrested here for drugs, police often beat them up or even shoot them as punishment first. But because she’s Australian, she has the government behind her, even if she did do the crime.”

“Why are the Australians blaming Indonesians? Do they think we put the marijuana in her bag?”

Peter Walandouw, a business journalist, believes the Australian response to the Corby verdict was uninformed and hasty.

“What the Australian people see is a lovely, young, beautiful girl, one of their own, caught smuggling marijuana into Indonesia. But I think they are missing the biggest point for Indonesians, which is about law enforcement.

“I think, whether Corby is guilty or not, we must believe in the court verdict. People here have the right to an appeal if they don’t agree,” he said.

“I would like to challenge the Australian people and ask them: What would happen if it was an Indonesian who was caught with drugs at an Australian airport? How would they react if Indonesia insisted this person be sent back to Indonesia, ignoring an Australian court verdict - would they like it?”

Tommy Suryohartomo, an accountant, believes Corby could be innocent: “but we Indonesians don’t want to release her just because the Australian government or people say so.”

If the Australians want to free Corby, they should help the Indonesian police find the real culprits, not just criticise the legal system.

He is candid about what he thinks of his country’s courts. “But this trial is different; the courts in Bali are likely to be far less corrupt because there is an international focus on them.”

If she was an Indonesian with money, Corby could have paid a bribe to the judge earlier, or quietly bribed her way out of jail later once she had been sentenced.

“In some ways, Corby is disadvantaged because she is not paying bribes and because her case is so well-known,” he said.

Chris Holm is a New Zealand journalist working for the Jakarta Post.

Getting it right in Japan

By Mike Jaspers

It wasn't a great start to Expo 2005. Temperatures were plummeting, spring was struggling to ignite the cherry blossoms. Then a light dusting of snow fell on the New Zealand kapa haka party as it pounded out a stirring performance on opening day.

While I shivered outside New Zealand's stylish pavilion I couldn't help but notice two old Japanese gentlemen appearing to wrestle with a cell phone. Not at all. One of them had the very latest 3G phone and they were merely lining up a bar code on the outside wall.

It was the very latest Japanese marketing innovation. New Zealand had adapted it to help spread the word about Godzone. You scan the bar code with your phone camera and up comes a website with all sorts of information about New Zealand; video clips, kiwi ring tones, even a live camera in Auckland.

Experts say this bar code marketing strategy will be everywhere in Japan within a year. We found it on a packet of capsicums in a supermarket. The website told you how they were grown, when they were harvested and who the grower was!

The two old gentlemen epitomised the Japanese; savvy and technologically literate whatever the age. It is one of the things that staggers you in Japan. The smartest technology is everywhere. It was surprising to hail a taxi and not find it equipped with the very latest GPS navigator.

All this and Japan's economy is still hardly getting out of bed in the morning.

The decade long recession has taken its toll. It's not hard to find homeless haunting Tokyo's beautiful parks. They live beneath plastic tarpaulins. They are tidy wee homes for a generation of men who lost their jobs when recession hit the big corporations in the nineties.

Officially, Japan is growing at the kind of snail's pace New Zealand used to suffer. But this is still a giant economy. The Tokyo area with a population of 40 million is the fourth biggest economy in the world. China could well overtake Japan within a few decades, but talk to Kiwis in Tokyo and they are adamant Japan remains an easier market because capitalism is well established and the rules are clear.

Primary exporters still have to deal with tariffs and like most Asian countries you have to have the right connections and understand the business culture. But the opportunities are there.

Bay of Plenty honey products company Comvita decided it needed to be on the ground. Three years after opening an office in Yokohama, it has turned a profit. Being in Japan may be expensive but Kiwis there say it’s the only way to build trust among distributors, retailers and consumers in a land that is still suspicious of foreigners.

Trust is the key, especially for food and beverage exporters. Japanese consumers have been spooked by a number of food scares like mad cow disease and avian bird flu. That's why our meat exporters are working on being able to tell their Japanese customers where their steak has come from, not just the farm, but the individual beast.

That's why it makes sense for New Zealand to wave its flag at the Expo. The sprawling collection of pavilions from a 120 odd countries is an hour's drive from Nagoya. Our government committed late, but it should be happy with the $10 million investment.

Some 15 thousand Japanese pour through every day. And ours is a clever exhibition - nicely tied in with the Expo's theme of nature's wisdom or sustainable development. They can also take in a stunning triple screen cinematic journey through New Zealand's landscapes and people.

Touch screen technology gives visitors a chance to glean more facts and then it's all over in about five minutes - simple, effective and evocative of New Zealand. No need for a robotic kiwi or sheep. Why Australia's pavilion needed a giant platypus as a key display I'll never know.

One News reporter Mike Jaspers reported on the opening of Expo 2005 with the assistance of Asia:NZ.

Thai recipes for diplomacy

The entertaining Thai chef who featured in Peta Mathias’ Taste Takes Off episode on Northern Thailand will be visiting New Zealand this month to give a series of workshops on Thai cuisine.

Chef McDang is a well known television personality in Thailand. He was born into an aristocratic Thai family, educated in England, learnt to cook in the United States and writes for a regular food column for Bangkok newspaper. He is also the author of several books on Thai cooking.

His visit, sponsored by the Thai government, includes cooking workshops in Auckland (June 13-15), Christchurch (June 16-18) and Wellington (20-22). For more information, contact the Royal Thai Embassy in Wellington on 04 476 8616 or email

The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in July. 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.

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


Asia New Zealand Foundation is grateful to its key sponsors - Fonterra, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - for their commitment to the Foundation's activities.

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