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May Media Newsletter

May Media Newsletter

Kia ora, svar khum and welcome to the May edition of the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter. In this issue, there’s information about a study of Asians in the New Zealand media by iBall editor Lincoln Tan, some statistics on Asian crime, a follow-up on the Indonesia: Foreign Policy, Islam and Democracy seminar and lots of other news.

Media Newsletter

May 2006

- Wanted: More Asian journalists

- A Kiwi-Asian view on the media

- The Asian crime wave is over-rated

- Modernity and religion in Indonesia

- In other news

- Artist residencies in Asia

- Young people wanted for cultural research

- Everybody was wushu fighting

- Mr India comes to town

- Available now in Chinese!

Wanted: More Asian journalists

There is growing awareness among New Zealand news editors of the value of reflecting cultural diversity in news rooms to appeal to the growing Kiwi Asian sector but many say they are limited by a shortage of Asian journalism graduates.

In carrying out a study for the New Zealand Journalists Training Organisation, iBall editor Lincoln Tan undertook to survey perspectives among news gatekeepers towards New Zealand’s increasing Asian communities as well as converse views.

The report ‘There’s scope for more Asian involvement in the mainstream media’ was funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation. It canvases the views of media studies students, journalism lecturers, mainstream news editors as well as editors and readers of the Chinese language print media.

“With the changing face of New Zealand, as we head down the path of multi-culturalism, mainstream media must be prepared to evolve and to take the bold step to admit – yes, there is a need for change,” Mr Tan said.

Mr Tan says his report focused on the mainstream media and New Zealand’s Chinese communities and, while many of the issues discussed are generic to most Asian communities, he recommends that a similar study on South Asians and the media be undertaken at some point.

The shortage of Asians in the news media can be attributed to several factors. One of them is a cultural perception that journalism is not as attractive as other occupations and another is the lack of visible Asian role models in the news media.

“Do you know of any Asian journalists who have made it to the top? If I can see the success of some other Asians, then I know maybe I stand a chance as a journalist too,” said one Asian student.

On the other hand, news editors and journalism tutors say there is a lack of potential candidates.

The head of the JTO, Jim Tucker, says Asians only made up 0.6 percent of journalism students.

While journalism tutors could not pinpoint the exact reason to why journalism was not attracting Asians, one said it has to do with the high standard of English required.

“Yes, and I think myself and a few other individuals in this newsroom have been working hard to get a more diverse newsroom. Have you any idea where we can get more Asian journalists?” one gatekeeper asked.

Most agreed that there was a need for a recruitment or education programme to attract Asians into journalism because more balanced and informed coverage of Asian communities made the news product more appealing to those communities, otherwise all that was represented was a dominant Pakeha view.

The report also suggests that further research into the market potential of Asian communities was needed. For a copy of the study, contact the NZJTO or email Asia:NZ media adviser Charles Mabbett at

A Kiwi-Asian view on the media

By Lincoln Tan

When Jim Tucker approached me to write a paper on the training needs of Asian journalists in New Zealand, I was truly honoured.

I still remember very clearly how small I felt that day in 1997 when I was told by the North Shore Times that I was not good enough even to be interviewed for a cub reporter’s position because I did not have Kiwi journalism experience.

Prior to moving to New Zealand, I had been a journalist at The Singapore Press Holdings, an editor for community newspapers, and a magazine publisher. Having come from a tabloid/community newspaper background, I did not apply for positions in mainstream papers because I felt my style of reporting and writing would suit the community newspapers better.

After receiving a similar reception when I applied for a reporter’s position at The North’Westor - a community newspaper in Christchurch – I thought the only way I could carry on working as a journalist here was to start my own newspaper.

When I came here in 1997, I found the stories in The New Zealand Herald to be of little relevance to me. They seem to be reported for an audience quite different from me, and as an Asian, I have become “them”. Within a space of three months, I stopped reading newspapers on a daily basis, and had instead turned to the Internet for my source of news.

The possibility that there were others like me out there, and the fact that I could not find much news of interest to me in the mainstream papers, prompted me to launch an Asian-focused English-language newspaper in 2003.

My newspaper – iBall - was launched with an agenda: to chart a way forward and to show by example, the kind of paper I thought could help with the crossovers for Asian readers to mainstream newspapers.

When the Herald dabbled in producing a Chinese newspaper in the mid 90s, I felt it was barking up the wrong tree. A publication in Chinese, or any ethnic script for that matter, will only further alienate and separate readers from the mainstream newspaper, and will do little in winning over an Asian readership to their flagship paper.

While working on this study, I had the opportunity to interview several Chinese-language newspaper readers. It is my opinion that it would be a near impossible task to convert them into becoming readers of mainstream newspapers.

The audience targeted by a Chinese language newspaper is totally different from the Asian audience that the mainstream newspaper should be targeting, which includes the English speaking Asian migrants, the 1.5 generation Asians and Kiwi Asians born in New Zealand.

I felt there was a need for a paper that reports mainstream stories from an Asian perspective that could generate interest by showing an Asian audience how mainstream news is relevant them.

Hence, iBall was born. The aim of the paper was to whet their appetite for news, and then channel them to the mainstream newspaper if they wanted a more detailed report. While I am fully aware that this cannot happen overnight, I had planned to do it step by step.

First, I would use iBall to show that there are good Asian journalists here, and show a different style of journalism – one that many Asians are used to.

Next, I would reach out to journalism students and journalists and talk to them about the importance of including ethnic minority communities’ views in their stories for greater balance and work out with them how they can go about doing so. Having a newspaper will help show them that there are interesting newsmakers within the ethnic minority communities.

In Christchurch, I held regular talks at journalism schools and sessions with journalists on the ethnic rounds at The Press and The Christchurch Star.

Last year, I was fortunate to have also been given an opportunity to speak at JTO’s Chief Reporters Conference, and the Journalism Educators Association of New Zealand annual meeting at The Christchurch Town Hall.

IBall was re-launched in Auckland last year, where I am hopeful that it will have a greater impact. The concept of iBall can only work if it is done in partnership with a mainstream paper, and not as a stand alone title.

I am still working hard to find a mainstream newspaper publisher who would give iBall the chance to achieve its full potential.

The Asian crime wave is over-rated

In the wake of the killing of Chinese international student Wan Biao, it has taken a refreshingly simple yet effective piece of journalism to put the public’s fear of the so-called Asian crime phenomenon into some kind of perspective.

Despite a number of recent news reports highlighting methamphetamine smuggling, prostitution, kidnapping and murder and involving new Asian migrants or international students, the perception of an Asian crime wave in New Zealand was effectively debunked by a single episode of Campbell Live on TV3 last month.

During the show, which aired on April 28, John Campbell interviewed Inspector John Mitchell and Police Asian Liaison Officer Jessica Phuang about the extent of Asian crime in the Auckland City police district.

Mr Mitchell and Ms Phuang revealed that while over 30 percent of Auckland City was Asian in ethnicity, only 6 percent of the crime was committed by Asians.

John Mitchell said when the numbers of Chinese students peaked about three years ago, kidnappings were a big problem with 57 cases recorded in 2003 but since then there’s been a spectacular decrease.

“With all the education work we’ve been doing, and some deterrent sentences have been handed down as well, it was four last year.”

Asked if the Asian communities created a disproportionate level of trouble for the police, Mr Mitchell responded with “not at all, it is severely under represented and they’re hard working and lawful, by and large”.

Modernity and religion in Indonesia

A leading Indonesian political commentator says Indonesia can be a role model for the rest of the world as a democratic country that is predominantly Muslim where modernity and Islamic society co-exist.

Jakarta-based Professor Dewi Fortuna Anwar was speaking in Wellington at the Indonesia: Foreign Policy, Islam and Democracy seminar on May 1.

She told the 100-strong audience that Indonesia’s biggest challenge was to establish its claim as an alternative form of Islamic society within the Islamic world.

“Islam in Indonesia is generally regarded as moderate, tolerant and outward looking. Although nearly 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslims, Indonesia is not an Islamic state, and nor is Islam the official religion of the state.”

Prof Anwar said whenever people talked about Islam, the reference point was always the Middle East and, despite the fact there were more Muslims in Southeast Asia, Muslims on this side of the world remained peripheral in Islamic affairs.

“While in the West, modernity has brought secularism, in most Islamic countries modernity has been accompanied by greater religiosity, including in Indonesia. Indonesia’s democratic transition takes place amidst an Islamic revival,” she said.

What was required was for Indonesian scholars of Islam and political science to produce an alternative model of Islam and society in an era of rapidly increasing globalisation.

“Backed by such intellectual inputs, it is hoped that Indonesia’s foreign policy would be able to engage more fruitfully in the battle of ideas that are taking place between Islam and the West and within the Islamic world itself.”

Only then, she said, could Indonesia position itself as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West and as a possible reference point for other Muslim countries that might wish to emulate Indonesia’s experience.

While the country faced real difficulties, the image problem from what is termed the “CNN effect”, as graphic news of violence and conflicts are repeated over and over again, obscured other realities.

“Against all odds Indonesians succeeded in transforming the long-entrenched authoritarian political system into a more democratic one within a very short time and almost without bloodshed,” she said.

“While it continues to face many difficult challenges, particularly in the economic field and in the area of governance, Indonesia is certainly not a failed or failing state, or one that is in danger of disintegrating.”

She referred to a quote by President Yudhoyono: “We are the fourth most populous nation in the world. We are home to the world’s largest Muslim population. We are the world’s third largest democracy. We are also a country where democracy, Islam and modernity go hand in hand.”

Professor Anwar is the Deputy Chair for Social Sciences and Humanities at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. Her presentation and that by Jakarta-based journalists John McBeth and Yuli Ismartono are available on request by emailing Asia:NZ’s media adviser Charles Mabbett at


“For our migrant communities, broadband really matters. If you want video chat with family, see TV from home or listen to streaming radio, you need broadband. Broadband is a vitally important tool in maintaining the diaspora and for keeping the new generation in touch with their traditions - all so easily lost when migrating.”

Andy Williamson, co-founder of the Aotearoa Ethnic Network.

In other news

Sky Digital subscribers can now see how China sees itself and the rest of the world by tuning into CCTV International which is available for the first time in New Zealand.

CCTV International is the 24-hour English language service of China Central Television, the country’s largest national television network. It can be found on channel 93 on the Sky Digital platform.

The winner of the WTV Chinese New Talent Singing Championships is 22-year-old University of Auckland psychology student Caleb Ngan.

Mr Ngan, who came to New Zealand with his family as a child, beat 19 other finalists on the night. He won $2000 and a return trip to Hong Kong to compete in the Global Chinese New Talent Singing Championship in September.

This year’s competition, a Chinese version of New Zealand Idol, was held before 2000 fans at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on April 29. Runners up were Anoka Guo from Christchurch and Yoyo Yang from Auckland.

Finally, the deadline for applications in the North Asia round of Asia:NZ media travel grants close on May 18. For more information, visit this link:

Meanwhile, the closing date for Asia:NZ media travel grants for Southeast Asia is also coming up on July 18.

Artist residencies in Asia

Established New Zealand artists across all art forms are invited to apply for three-month residencies in China and India.

The Sanskriti Residency in New Delhi and the Red Gate Residency in Beijing are offered annually by Creative New Zealand in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Creative New Zealand will cover the cost of accommodation and facilities, and provide artist stipends of $10,000 each. The Asia New Zealand Foundation will meet the cost of return airfares.

Priority will also be given to applicants who show an appreciation of the environment and contemporary culture of the host country.

Beijing's Red Gate Residency ( is a well-established residency programme that also offers access to facilities at the Beijing Arts Academy.

The Sanskriti Residency is hosted by the Sanskriti Foundation of India ( and is based at the Sanskriti Foundation's Kendra campus outside New Delhi.

Applications close on June 30. For more information, contact Creative New Zealand.

Young people wanted for cultural research

The experience of young migrants is the subject of a study on cultural identity being conducted by the Victoria University’s Centre for Applied Research in Cross-cultural Research.

The centre is seeking volunteers aged between 13 and 18 years to complete an anonymous online survey.

Questions include ‘Where and how do immigrants fit into our society?’, ‘How important is it for migrants to be like other Kiwis?’ and ‘How important is it for you to maintain aspects of your cultural heritage?’

Prof Colleen Ward says the study will explore a range of issues, including native language, friendship networks, family values and wellbeing.

“One of the key questions is how young migrants see themselves in terms of their original cultural heritage and how they see themselves as New Zealanders. This has implications for our evolving New Zealand identity and our multi-cultural society.”

Professor Ward says the research will also compare New Zealand perspectives with findings from 12 other countries.

Participants are sought from various ethnic communities, including Chinese, Korean, Indian, Samoan, South African, English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh. Young migrants interested in completing the survey should go to

Everybody was wushu fighting

Auckland’s largest annual Chinese martial arts event will be held in the last weekend of May at the Tamaki College Recreation Centre in Glen Innes.

The Blue Wing Honda Auckland Wushu Festival on May 27-28 is open to all Chinese Martial Arts clubs – all styles, all ages and all levels. On the first day there will be a three hour demonstration beginning at 10am followed by the actual competition on the second day from 9am-4pm.

Organiser Orlando Garcia says there will be between 150-250 contestants and several hundred spectators over the weekend.

In Chinese, wushu literally means martial art and is a more precise term than the more widely used term kung fu which also translates as skill in the sense that a good artist can also have good kung fu.

Jet Li is possibly the most famous wushu practitioner in the world. He gained fame by winning the National Wushu Champion of China title five times before becoming an actor.

The event is supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation. For more information, contact Orlando Garcia by email or phone 021-560 200.

Mr India comes to town

Triangle Television's Mr India NZ Contest promises to be a night of colour, glamour and culture with Bollywood style to burn at Auckland’s Logan Campbell Centre this month.

The show featuring 16 finalists begins at 7.30 pm on Saturday May 20 and will be filmed by a Triangle TV crew. The 16 finalists - all single Indian men - will strut their stuff in gear ranging from audacious to traditional.

The contestants are raising money for community road safety, collecting money for the Road Safety Trust.

Entertainment at the event is multicultural, with a Bollywood routine by the MC Girls; Ravi Shetty, "The Golden Voice" of Auckland's Indian community; and NZ Idol winner Keshia.

Five dance groups will perform including Interfusion Hype - combining Maori, Polynesian, European and Indian - and Nachela Punjab, World International Bhangra winners.

Available now in Chinese

In a first, Wellington Public Libraries are offering two new services to Chinese users – catalogues and self issuing machines with a Chinese language option.

A Wellington Public Libraries spokesperson Belinda Davis said the move has come about because the Chinese language book collection is significantly the most highly used in its non-English collection.

She says this means that all the buttons and help text will be in Chinese characters but if the title of the book is in English, it will remain in English.

Translationswere provided by the National Libraries of both Singapore and China with assistance from the NZ Government Translation Bureau.

In 2005 Wellington City Libraries launched the migrant communities’ library guide which is translated into 15 languages. You can check it out at

For more information phone 04 801 4040 or ask at any branch of Wellington City Libraries.

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

Toitu he kianga; whatungarongaro he tangata - people are transient things but the land endures.


Articles may be reprinted with acknowledgement of Asia New Zealand Foundation

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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