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Asia:NZ Media Newsletter

Media Newsletter

September 2005

Kia ora, salaam and welcome to another bumper Asia:NZ media newsletter. Lurking prominently on all news agendas has been the astonishing human, material and political cost of Hurricane Katrina. But domestically it's been all about the cut and thrust of the 2005 election campaign with all eyes on the hustings. Perhaps this quote by American wordsmith Henry Louis Mencken will resonate with undecided voters as Decision Day nears: "Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." What would have Mencken made of the multiparty MMP environment? See you on the other side of September 17.

In this issue:

* What are Asian voters thinking?

* New media partnership for Diwali

* Comings and goings

* Getting engaged (to an Asian)

* Looking into Tana's eyes

* Rajasthan comes to Diwali

* Art from dung and mud

* Killing of a Chinese gold miner

* Ethnic youth conference

* Morningside 4 life!

* Winning haiku

Please note that the views expressed by various contributors to this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.


What are Asian voters thinking?

Crime and immigration are the two main election issues that concern New Zealand's Chinese and South Asian communities, say two recent surveys undertaken by Auckland-based Asian media.

Crime targeting small businesses such as dairy shops and takeaway food outlets - with their high level of Asian ownership - is a natural cause for concern in the wake of the murder of shop worker Bhagubhai Vaghela in June.

The New Zealand Herald reported on August 25 that among Auckland's three largest Asian communities - the Chinese, Indian and Korean - law and order rated ahead of immigration as the country's most pressing issue.

This was supported by a survey undertaken by the New Zealand Chinese Herald in late August that said the top issues listed by respondents were policing and the economy.

But Asian communities are also concerned over the raising of English language requirements for new migrants and their ability to bring other family members to New Zealand.

The Chinese Herald survey, based on a sample of about 600 potential voters, also indicated party vote support for Labour was 43 percent, followed by National on 23 percent and ACT on 21 percent.

ACT's level of support among Herald readers can be attributed to its Chinese list MP Kenneth Wang (standing in Mt Roskill) who is the most popular candidate among Chinese voters along with National list MP Pansy Wong (standing in Auckland Central).

Other Chinese candidates have a much lower level of support. They include Tommy Tay (Progressive - Auckland Central), Ken Yee (National - Manukau East), Ai Lian Su (Labour list candidate), and Meng Ly (Progressive - Pakuranga).

The Chinese Herald reader is most likely to be an overseas born Chinese who is Auckland-based. Its circulation is 17,000 and editions are published on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Meanwhile the latest Indian Newslink/Radio Tarana poll shows National closing the gap on Labour with about 47 percent support to 51 percent. A previous poll in May showed Labour on 62 percent to National's 34 percent.

Indian Newslink's managing editor Venkat Raman says the nearly 3000 respondents from all over New Zealand took part in the write-in poll in August which was published on September 1.

Mr Raman says the Indian community appeared to recognise Labour and National as the only contenders, virtually edging out the minority parties.

South Asian candidates standing for election include Labour list MP Ashraf Choudhary, Dinesh Tailor (Labour list candidate) and Ravi Musuku (National list candidate and standing in Helen Clark's electorate Mt Albert).

The poll was open to readers of Indian Newslink and listeners of Radio Tarana, comprising members of the extended Indian community, including Indians from India, Fiji, and other countries, as well as from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and people from the Gulf states and the Middle East.


New media partnership for Diwali

The 2005 Diwali Festivals brought to you by Asia:NZ, Auckland City and Wellington City Council now have two new supporters for next month's events in Wellington and Auckland.

Radio Tarana and TV3 are for the first time official sponsors of the most celebrated Indian cultural event of the year - the Diwali Festival of Lights.

Tarana's managing director Robert Khan says the station is working closely with the TV3 news team to bring a unique mix of Indian Bollywood to both festivals.

"Expect the best in local entertainment with overseas Bollywood artists. The biggest surprise will come on the day when the action unfolds on the Bollywood stages in Auckland and Wellington," he said.

TV3's head of news and current affairs Mark Jennings says the network is delighted to be involved as a sponsor.

"Bollywood competitions are now a phenomenon around the world and as part of our involvement, Campbell Live will be doing a "behind the scenes" story on the rivalry and excitement this competition produces," Mr Jennings said.

The festival will take place in Wellington on October 23 with the Bollywood dance competition being held the night before on October 22. In Auckland, both the festival and the Bollywood dance competition happen on October 30.


Comings and goings

People who attended the Understanding Indonesia seminar on September 6 were rewarded by a number of fascinating topics and interesting speakers.

Co-hosted by the Indonesian Embassy and the Asian Studies Institute at Victoria University, the seminar attended by about 80 people was a perfect showcase for the deep complexities of New Zealand's closest Asian neighbour.

Topics discussed included the Indonesian military and the country's growing pains as a democracy, Islam and politics, as well as gender, identity and Indonesian society.

A highlight was the presentation on military reform in Indonesia by Prof Salim Said from Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta. Prof Said gave two other talks during his visit to Wellington and was also interviewed by Linda Clark on Nine to Noon.

Another seminar mentioned in last month's newsletter, the India-New Zealand seminar organised by the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs which was to be held on August 25, has been postponed. Organisers hope to be able to hold the event early next year.

In other news, SKY Television has added China Central Television's 24-hour English language news channel to its programming.

CCTV-9 is regarded as the Chinese government's leading English television news service. It is available on Channel 93 to all Sky Digital customers, as well as Sky's WTV customers who already access CCTV-4.

A final reminder that Asia:NZ media travel awards for South Asia close on September 15.


Getting engaged (to an Asian)

Many Asians living in New Zealand experience some form of racism, a new Asia New Zealand Foundation study shows.

Most common is verbal abuse and "the finger" - often by teenagers or children. Overt racism experienced included damage to cars identifiable as Asian-owned, having bottles or stones thrown at them, and being laughed at because of poor pronounciation.

The report - Engaging Asian communities in New Zealand - also revealed more subtle racism.

In employment, this involved a number of perceptions; that employers gave jobs and promotions to Kiwis instead of Asians, workmates pretended not to understand their Asian colleagues, workmates patronised Asians and management positions were reserved for Kiwis.

Elsewhere examples included Asians being deliberately misunderstood in a cafe or a supermarket "in order to humiliate", being snubbed by Kiwi mothers in schools when greeting their children and being avoided in public places, like a swimming pool.

The report's authors - Terry McGrath, Dr John Pickering, Dr Hilary Smith and Dr Andrew Butcher - based their study on focus groups held with 94 participants.

The main purpose of the research is to look at ways that engagement between various Asian communities and various other communities happens (or doesn't, as the case may be).

There were 17 focus groups; five Chinese, three mixed (Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand-born Chinese, Sri Lanka and China) and groups made up of the following categories; Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian, Indian, Lao, Sri Lankan, Malaysian and New Zealand-born non Asians.

Asia:NZ's research director Dr Rebecca Foley welcomed the report and says it goes beyond research on what problems Asian migrants face and examines what works in terms of engaging with the host community.

She says there is no 'silver bullet' programme in existence but the research helps inform practice in terms of what elements need to be taken into account when running programmes and it also takes a wider view of what is needed to form a socially cohesive society.

"It is disturbing that most participants in the research had experienced some form of racism but at the same time it is heartening that there are so many private and public agencies offering a wide variety of programmes that migrants find useful," Dr Foley said.

Engaging Asian communities in New Zealand will shortly be available on the Asia:NZ website.


Looking into Tana's eyes

Did everyone watching TV coverage of the final Tri Nations rugby test at Eden Park see the enthusiastic Chinese couple? Weren't they wonderful? Their support for the home team couldn't be missed, decked out as they were in All Blacks supporters' gear and waving All Black flags.

It was a cheerful sight when being Asian in New Zealand means often having your credentials as a New Zealander questioned. This can range from being constantly asked where you come from to being told by complete strangers to "go back to your own country" - even if you were born here.

A notable social commentator - and Naked Samoan - Oscar Kightley once empathised with Kiwi Asians over their issues of identity and belonging in New Zealand.

Kightley, mindful of the role sport plays as a kind of national adhesive, once said he hoped Asians would one day be fully accepted as New Zealanders but that day might not come until there was an Asian All Black.

It isn't a new idea and in fact many young Kiwi Asians have already speculated over the possibility that the captain of our national sport is a 'slightly yellow' All Black.

That's because many Chinese see themselves in Tana Umaga's eyes.

But teasingly, the word from the All Black camp is that the skipper is "unsure of where - if any - Chinese ancestry comes in the family tree". They go on to say that there might be some Chinese blood among his grand parents or great grand parents but Tana has no details.

That's no slight on Tana. He is a great All Black, one who has broken through a glass ceiling to become the first All Black captain of Samoan descent. Kiwi Asians can claim him anyway, in the same way all New Zealanders can and the wait for that elusive Asian All Black - like the search for the unicorn - goes on.

Sport as a means to consolidating one's identity and place in the mainstream is hardly a new concept.

Maori feel pride in the achievements of golfer Michael Campbell and New Zealanders of Pacific Island ancestry are thrilled by Jonah Lomu, Rodney So'oialo, Joe Rokocoko and a host of others.

Pride in a sporting role model is an obvious route by which minority groups can feel stronger about their place in a society. In this regard, there's an interesting picture - rugby aside - emerging of Kiwi Asians involved in elite sport and what it reveals about the changing nature of New Zealand society is intriguing.

In cricket, we remember all-rounder Dipak Patel as the first South Asian cricketer to play for New Zealand, and, currently in the New Zealand squad that toured Zimbabwe is up and coming Wellington bowler Jeetan Patel.

In hockey, there's a deep tradition of South Asian players involved at all levels of a game where the chief executive of the national governing body is Ramesh Patel, one of the golden team which won the Olympic title in Montreal in 1976.

Peter Daji, Bevan Hari, Umesh Parag and Mitesh Patel have each played over 100 international matches and are among nearly of score of South Asians who have represented New Zealand. The current men's squad includes no less than four players of South Asian descent.

In soccer, New Zealand's only ethnic Chinese international came here as a two-year-old from Guangzhou, China, in 1933. Arthur Leong played for New Zealand between 1959 and 1964 and remains the only Chinese ever to have played for the national soccer team.

In squash, the country's current top player immigrated to New Zealand in 2002. Pakistan-born Kashif Shuja was crowned national squash champion in 2004 and will represent New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

In cycling, there's Robyn Wong of Wellington who represented New Zealand in mountain biking at the Athens Olympics last year.

In table tennis, the Li sisters, Chunli and Karen, are well known for spearheading New Zealand's success in the sport. The sisters, born in Guiping, China, have represented their adopted country in both singles and doubles.

Chunli competed at four consecutive Olympics - Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. Her career highlight is the gold, silver and two bronzes she brought home from the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.

In golf, a 16-year-old ethnic Korean from Rotorua triumphed at the world junior golf championship in Fiji in December. But, as anyone who follows golf closely will tell you, Jae An is only one of a wave of talented young Kiwi Asian golfers coming through.

In badminton, many of the emerging generation were born in Asia. The Under 19 squad which represented New Zealand at the 2004 Bendigo Youth Games includes Michelle Chan (Hong Kong), Garbo Choi (Hong Kong), Henry Tam (Hong Kong) and Joe Wu (Taiwan).

There are other examples. Kiwi Asian sportspeople are New Zealand's representatives without ambivalence on the fields, tracks and courts of international competition.

New Zealanders take pride in the sporting achievements of Kiwi Asians. But the evidence shows that the struggle for acceptance outside sport goes on.



"These new immigrants are sitting and watching, many of them feel like outsiders, they want to be welcomed, but on the other hand they don't want to be treated as kind of token voters, they want to be treated as real voters." University of Auckland political scientist Raymond Miller on TV One's Breakfast programme.

"The renaissance of Maori and the arrival of immigrants from the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe and Africa have redefined what it means to be a New Zealander. Some embrace that as a source of strength and identity; others feel deeply threatened." Commentator Rod Oram in the Sunday Star Times on September 11.


Rajasthan comes to Diwali

Vibrant traditional dance and music from India's desert state of Rajasthan are just some of the highlights of this year's Asia:NZ Diwali Festival of Lights in Wellington and Auckland.

New Zealand audiences will also be able to see internationally acclaimed Rajasthani string puppets, an art form with a history stretching back one thousand years.

The puppet performers and the Rajasthani folk dance and music group will be performing at Wellington's Town Hall on October 23 and in Auckland's Aotea Centre on October 30.

All the performers will also give shows to school groups around both dates in both centres.

Rajasthan's rich musical heritage has been passed down from generation to generation, kept alive by tribal castes of hereditary singers, poets and musicians.

The puppeteer group comes from a community of wandering artists who go from village to village presenting popular stories of heroes and divinities from the sacred epic poems the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The Rajasthani Folk Dance and Music Group, and the traditional puppet group, have been brought to New Zealand by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.


Art from dung and mud

Another Diwali attraction is the folk painter Shanti Dewi who will be demonstrating her art in Wellington and Auckland in conjunction with both festivals.

Ms Dewi has been painting in the Madhubani genre of folk art for the past 25 years. She has worked all over India and travelled overseas to promote the art form.

Madhubhani - literally "a forest of honey" - is a style of painting traditionally done by the women of the Mithila region in the villages around Madhubhani in the Indian state of Bihar.

The paintings, incorporating figures from nature and mythology, are done on freshly plastered or mud walls in the prayer room or bridal chamber. The artist mixes her paints by hand, obtaining for example, black from cow dung soot, yellow from turmeric, blue from indigo, red from red sandalwood and white from rice grains.

The themes of Madhubhani paintings are religious, incorporating colourful representations of the Hindu deities, court and wedding scenes, and various social happenings.

Ms Dewi will give workshops for school groups at the Wellington City Art Gallery and at the Auckland Art Gallery in the run-up to the Diwali Festivals.


Killing of a Chinese gold miner

A 100 years ago, white supremacist Lionel Terry went to Wellington's Chinatown to shoot himself a Chinaman. The victim he gunned down was a 68-year-old former gold-miner named Joe Kum Yung.

Terry, an English immigrant fixated on the "yellow peril" and Chinese immigration to New Zealand, later walked into the local police station and gave himself up. He was found to be insane and committed to Seacliff Psychiatric Hospital.

In order to mark the killing, the Joe Kum Yung Centenary Commemoration is being held at 11.30am on September 25 at the crime scene in Haining St, central Wellington.


Ethnic youth conference

Listen to the voice of Asian, African and Maori youth as they discuss the challenges they face in fitting into society.

The Voice of Ethnic Youth conference is being organised by Ethnic Voice NZ, an incorporated society that aims to foster closer relations between communities and government agencies.

The day long event will be at Orakei Marae in Auckland on October 15.

Registration is open to all people and organisations interested in youth issues. Contact EVNZ coordinator Mariska Mannes by email at or visit the website


Morningside 4 life!

It is finally on us and we're not talking about election day. After its runaway success last year, the boys in the hood are back for a second series of bro'Town.

Those schoolboy rogues, Sione, Mack, Jeff, Vale and Valea, return to TV3 from September 14 after months of activity from the Naked Samoans, animators Ant Sang and Maka Makatoa, and the rest of the bro'Town production team.

The groundbreaking show won Best Comedy and Best Comedy Script at the New Zealand Screen Awards this year and is New Zealand's first television comedy to poke fun at our burgeoning multiculturalism.

There's a strong Asian influence. Ant Sang, who is Chinese, is also known for his comic book series Dharma Punks, and much of the animation was carried out by a Hyderabadi company called DQ Entertainment.

Can we expect the return of the kung fu rugby playing twin brothers Wite and Wong?


Winning haiku


My weetbix bowl shakes

The first prize winner in the haiku junior section of the New Zealand Poetry Society 2005 International Poetry Competition is Edward Davidson of St Patrick's School, Christchurch.


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


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