Monday, May 16, 2011

Asian enclave' good for Auckland - sociologist

Around a quarter of Aucklanders will be of Asian descent in five years - but "Asian enclaves" are a good thing for the city, sociologist Paul Spoonley says.

The issue of Asian migration has been recently raised by the Right Wing Resistance, led by former National Front leader Kyle Chapman.

The group is planning an Anti-Asian rally to protest against mass Asian immigration, which Mr Chapman claimed "stole jobs".

A date has yet to be set for the rally.

At the last census in 2006, the Asian ethnic group (which includes people from the sub-continent) totaled 354,552 people (9.2 per cent), making it the fourth largest ethnic group in New Zealand, following European, Maori and "other ethnicity".

Almost one in five (18.9 per cent) people in Auckland identified with one or more Asian ethnic groups, the highest proportion in the country.

Those of European ethnicity are forecast to drop from 76.8 per cent in 2006 to 69.5 per cent in 2026.

Mr Spoonley says the growth of immigration from Asia has been "enormous" since 1986, particularly since 2000.

"I've done some forecasts as well ... my pick is that a quarter of Auckland will be Asian by 2016."

He says "ethnic precincts" have mushroomed in places such as Dominion Road, Somerville, and Northcote in recent years.

"It used to be that immigrants that were poor got stuck in impoverished enclaves - it was sort of a dead end.

"But we are talking about skilled often highly educated affluent immigrants. So the dynamic is different."

Mr Spoonley says ethnic precincts are not in themselves bad.

"What they do, is they bring Auckland into the 21st century, because dynamic city economies are almost always ethnically diverse, with strong ethnic precincts. It is part of what a modern city is," he says.

"So the ethnic precincts ... I don't think are a problem."

Mr Spoonley says the issue is more about how communities interact with each other.

"We've just done some surveys in terms of these ethnic precincts and there is quite a high number of non-Asians who shop in Asian businesses these days. So that's good.

"The other thing that I think is really important is we are talking about first generation [immigrants]. The second generation Asian communities are going to very different from the first.

"When you shop along Dominion Rd you are looking at business owners that are first generation."

Mr Spoonley acknowledged some do feel an influx of immigrants is a threat to the New Zealand national identity.

"My question [to them] is tell me what that identity is and then we've got an answer," he says.

"Secondly I don't think we are as aggressively nationalistic as a lot of other countries. It is not like we are confident in knowing who we are and expect others to be like us. We aren't."
By Paul Harper | Email Paul

Sunday, May 15, 2011


-> Settlers in the vicinity of Eltham will read with pleasure the notification made ia another column that Mr. Chew Changs dairy factory is now in operation, and that he is prepared to do business with them. The plant seems to be a very complete and useful one. The separators are imported from Denmark, and were made by Bermeister and Wains ; and are capable of pntting through 240 gals of milk per hour each. The motive power is obtained by an undershot waterwheel of 8-horse power, and the water is conducted to the wheel by a tunnel of 340 feet in length. Altogether the factory has been pronounced by competent men to be the most complete one on the coast. We congratulate Mr. Chew Chong on the completion of bis preparatioDS, and hope to hear of the factory being kept busily at work with advantage and profit to himself and the settlers generally. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume IX, Issue 1816, 29 December 1887, Page 2

Chew Chong



Letters to the Editor. ) Sir, —There, is one importanty feature in connection with the dairying industry in Taranaki that I never seem to hear any allusion to, and for a great number of years never mentioned it any of the New Zealand newspapers,, and that is the name of the pioneer hand of the present factory system — a Mr Chew Chong,, who (as far as 1 know, at any rate) had the first daily factory in Taranaki up at Eltham; ifc may have been the fust dairy factory in New Zealand. Mr Chong was not' only a pushing merchant, importer and storekeeper, having a business at New- Plymouth as weil as at Eitham, but showed his great faith in this dairying business by putting a lot of his money into it. and offering to lend suppliers the cash to buy cows with. I write from memory, of course, and would like* to see this statement refuted if it'a not correct. As I turn it over in my mind now, at this particular time* there was considerable bad feeling (I think it was really race hatred) around - this new Eltham factory of Mr Chong's. Some sneaky person or persons (I don't think they were any of Mr Ctong's* countrymen though) thought to. damage his factory, reputation and. business by working up a trumpery case of alleged fake weights at the factory. Inspector Duffin. Inspector of Weights ■ and Measures, New Plymouth, was sent for and came to Eltham. The butcome of the Inspector's visit was that Mr Chong came out with flying colors; he was actually cheating himself and paying out more than he ought to hi» milk suppliers—the farmers. Milk was purchased by weight in those days. The informers. were sadder men, anyway; perhaps sorry financially they made a complaint. •

I have made these statements off and on for a good many years now to old Taranaki residents, and have not had them so far contradicted. If I am misrepresenting in any way I shall regard it as a kindness to be contradicted. I only want to get the truth and to uphold it. I always regarded Mr Chew Chong as a splendid business man, a good pioneer, and a gentleman- Gladstone's statement contained a lot of truth in it when he once remarked that the "colonials disliked the Chinaman more for his virtues than hi» vices." I don't know if Mr Chew ChoTi£ is still alive or not, but I beg to offer one suggestion: it would only be an act of British, fair play and longdelayed courtesy to tender Mr Chew • Chonq; some practical appreciation of his pioneering services to the dairying, industry —say, at the coming Winter Show at Hawera. In writing what I have I am only prompted by the spirit of rendering HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE. Kakaramea, May 26. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXV, 28 May 1913, Page 5


The Chinese Benefactor.


The most remarkable personality in the establishment of dairying in Taranaki, as indeed of the Dominion, was.a little Chinese genfleman, Chew Chong. It was he who built the first dairy factory^and provided the struggling settler with his first means of making a cash transaction in having created a market for the fungus found in the bush and facetiously known as Taranaki "wool," Chew Chong was no ordinary Chinaman. Though not a mandarin, nor of the educated class, he well merited the high esteem in which he was held by all classes because of his high principles and generous instincts. To the first-settlers who faced the wilderness with determination and hope as their only capital the little Chinese pedlar (a buyer of old iron in the first place) came as a general benefactor. In his wanderings he recognised the fungus growing on the tawa, pukutea and mahoe trees as something similar to an. edible fungus greatly prized in his country as a vegetable. With that keen foresight which always distinguished him, he decided to establish a trade in it with his native land. A trial shipment was made, and the venture at once proved a success. It is difficult at this distance to realise what the work of Chew Chong meant to the pioneer dairymen of Taranaki. When he commenced to purchase fungus the settlers lived by a system of barter. Fourpenee a pound" was a high price for the butter they produced. The storekeeper accepted the butter in exchange for stores, milled it and shipped it Home in a salted condition in kegs as ordinary cargo. It was a matter of great difficulty to obtain sufficient cash to meet the annual rates levied by the local bodies, amounting generally to 5s or 7s 6d. It was not till they were paid spot cash for their fungus that the settlers knew the delightful sound of the clinking of coin of the realm. The trade in Taranaki "wool" rapidly developed until one year, about 1885, the export of fungus amounted to. £72,000, more than the total value of butter shipped from the province. This important means of revenue was a Godsend to many a settler, for the price of butter had fallen to about threepence a potmd at that time, and but for the fungus many a family would have had ruin staring them in the face. It was in the year 1868 that Chew Chong commenced buying fungus. For four years the Customs authorities of China kept no account of the amount imported, but when Chew Chong was in China later he was informed that from 1872 to 1904 the imports were valued at £375,000.

«as were the services rendered to the Taranaki pioneer by the establishment of a trade in fungus, which was all

profit, costing nothing to produce and being chiefly collected by the children, it was the part played by the Chinese storekeeper in establishing the'factory system of butter manufacture for which he is principally remembered. In 1870 Chew Chong settled in New Plymouth and established a store, other stores being subsequently opened at Eltham and Inglewood. His main, sphere of activity

I was at Eltham, for it was there that he became-the pioneer of the dairy factory movement in the Taranaki province. In erecting a • dairy factory Chew Chong took a risky step, for it was a matter of great difficulty to procure a competent butter-maker,in those days. The refrigerator was unknown, control of temperature, an essential feature in the modern factory being thus impossible; separators were crude affairs, transport was difficult and costly, and the butter had to be shipped abroad as ordinary cargo. However, he was a ' man of exceptional enterprise, and having been approached by the settlers with whom he was doing business he entered into the work in a bold manner. Perhaps the best indication of the up-to-date nature of his enterprise may be gained from the following description of the factory given by the first Government dairy instructor in 1888:—'' Chew Chong's factory: This is one of the best factories I have visited. The machinery is good and in first-class condition, and'everything about it is thoroughly clean. The machinery is driven by a water-wheel. There are two Danish cream separators, each capable of putting through 150 gallons of milk per hour; one box churn capable of churning half a ton of butter at once, and a lever butter-worker. The water-wheel is inside the lower* part of the building. The butter when churned is taken to a space between the wheel and the outside wall to be made up. When the wheel is in motion it causes a current of cool air in the place, throwing at the same time a spray of water in the air, which assists to cool it in hot weather, a method invaluable for buttermaking. The building of a tunnel to bring the water to the wheel and plant cost over £700." .

It is told by old settlers, as an instance of Chew Chong_ versatility, that the contractors for the tunnel were on the point of throwing up the work, as they could make no progress, when Chew Chong went into the tunnel and showed them how to go about it. It was in 1887 that the factory established a notable period for the industry. Being the year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, Chew Chong named his factory "The Jubilee" and registered the word "Jubilee" as the brand of his butter. It was a success from its initiation, notwithstanding the difficulties which had to be faced.

The first year suppliers could only be paid 2d a gallon for the milk, but the following year 3d a gallon was paid. The first shipment of factory butter realised 24s a cwt. more than did the milled butter shipped by Chew Chong at the same time. The cost of marketing was expensive in those days. Roads were bad, and railage freights were high. To rail butter to Wellington cost £3 4s per ton. The butter Chew Chong turned out was of high quality for the period, and he gained the leading awards at the South Seas Exhibition at Dunedin in 1889, including a silver cup

presented by Messrs. A. and T. Burt. The history of Chew Chong was that of many another proprietary pioneer in the industry. When the wave of co-operative dairying carried all before it he struggled gamely for a time, but finally had to close the doors of his factory and three creameries, having failed to persuade the co-operators to take them over, with the result that his buildings and plant, which cost £3700, did not realise £400. Chew Chong calculated that he lost £7000 in the dairying business, for during the last five years his factory was in existence he had to pay very high prices to retain suppliers. Though his" services have not attracted the attention of the outside world, there is not a man of long experience in Taranaki who does not hold him in high regard and honour him for the great part he played in the development of the province

Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume XLII, 5 July 1923, Page 15

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The kiwi and the dragon
By Simon Collins
5:30 AM Saturday Apr 9, 2011

Neighbours gather at the Chong house in Botany for a pot luck dinner. Photo / Greg Bowker

In some ways, Chinese influence in New Zealand has grown faster and more strongly than anywhere else in the world.
In a special Herald series over the next week we look at what that means for this country.
Today, Simon Collins gives an overview of the impact of China on New Zealand's economic and cultural landscape.

Some time in the late 1990s, Tina Peters looked out of her car at an intersection and realised that almost all the other faces she could see were Asian.

Tina, a nurse, moved with her family from Papatoetoe to the fast-growing Botany area 12 years ago. Suddenly their ethnic landscape switched from the traditional Kiwi mix of European and Polynesian to include a surprising number of Chinese.

"With our children there has been that period of confusion, of bewilderment, for a little while of absolute fear thinking, 'I don't understand this'," she said at a pot-luck dinner at a Chinese neighbour's home on Neighbours Day last month.

"I didn't know how to communicate. You are missing the communication, and then there's that fear of, 'Oh my God, is my country disappearing?"'

New Zealand's ethnic Chinese population jumped more than seven-fold in the 20 years to the 2006 census, from 19,600 to 147,600.

In Auckland it rose almost 10-fold, from 10,500 to 97,400. Parts of Botany, Epsom and New Lynn are now more than 30 per cent Chinese.

Sociologist Paul Spoonley says the scale of this ethnic transformation, like the scale of New Zealand economic reforms in the same period, was unparalleled globally.

"The mix in Canada and Australia is almost identical, but they had much larger Chinese populations to start with," he says.

And of course this local ethnic change came just as the Chinese homeland burst on to the world stage. Two decades ago, even including Hong Kong, China produced only 2 per cent of global output and ranked 11th in the world. Last year, with 9 per cent of world output, it passed Japan to become the second-biggest economy on Earth.

Three years this week after signing a landmark free trade deal, China has already surpassed the US as New Zealand's biggest trading partner outside Australasia for both exports and imports, our leading source of international students, our second-biggest source of immigrants after Britain, and our fourth-biggest source of tourists.

Over the next week the Herald will report on how these dramatic shifts are transforming our economy and our society. In some respects Chinese influence has grown more strongly here than in any other country outside Asia.

Economically, our exports to China have leapt ahead through the past three years from just under $2 billion to $5 billion a year, when even Australia's exports to China only just more than doubled and China's overall imports stuttered through the global recession.

Dairy exports have quadrupled from $450 million to $1.9 billion. China is now by far our biggest dairy customer and the main driver behind recent record dairy prices.

Fonterra China managing director Philip Turner says this is only partly because of the scandal with melamine-contaminated Chinese-made milk which killed at least six babies in 2008, turning more sophisticated consumers towards imported milk.

"To a large extent this is simply demand exceeding supply," he says. Although Chinese milk production has grown exponentially from 6000 tonnes to 35,000 in the past decade, demand has grown even faster. Fonterra now supplies 5 per cent of the Chinese market.

Wood exports have quadrupled too, from $240 million to $1 billion a year since 2007. Timber Industry Federation head Brent Coffey says most of this is raw logs to feed China's property boom.

Our imports from China have grown rather less quickly because of our recession, from $5.6 billion to $6.9 billion. But the longer-term shift from costly local production to cheap Chinese imports, played out in extreme form here since import protection was largely abolished in the 1980s, has seen dramatic falls in the prices of clothing, footwear, toys and homeware.

Arguably, despite the loss of jobs in formerly protected industries, these cheap Chinese imports have made us all better off - at least in the short term.

"For 15 years up to 2007-08, the world enjoyed very stable prices and abundant capital with resulting cheap interest rates, and both of those things were very largely China's doing," says economist Srikanta Chatterjee.

"The Chinese effectively said: we'll lend you the money to buy these goods; therefore we had low interest rates. That is the very great advantage that we enjoyed."

This may not last. As China's own wages and living standards rise, its massive surpluses may diminish and it may have less surplus capital to lend.

The rest of the world will then need to either cut spending or raise output to live within our means.

China's abundant capital helped whiteware giant Haier buy a 20 per cent stake in Fisher & Paykel Appliances two years ago. Another Chinese company, Agria, is bidding for 50.01 per cent of our leading farm service firm, PGG Wrightson.

Overall Chinese investment is still minuscule at $5.6 billion or less than 2 per cent of total foreign investment. But the Chinese company Natural Dairy's failed bid for the 16 Crafar family dairy farms shows that Chinese investors are looking for opportunities in food and other natural resources.

Still a highly controlled society, China was slow to open up overseas travel. New Zealand and Australia became the first countries outside Asia to get "approved destination status"; this was only in 1999.

Total outbound travellers from China more than quintupled worldwide in the past decade to 56 million last year. The numbers going to both Australia and New Zealand almost quadrupled to 454,000 for Australia and 123,000 for New Zealand, propelling China into fourth place for visitors to both countries, behind each other, Britain and the US.

Today's launch of three weekly China Southern Airlines flights between Guangzhou (Canton) and Auckland adds capacity for an extra 25,000 visitors.

The airline already flies to Sydney and Melbourne, added Brisbane last November and plans 50 flights a week to six Australian cities by 2013.

There has also been an explosion in the numbers of Chinese students abroad. Visas for new Chinese fee-paying students here leapt from just 46 in 1998-99 to almost 20,000 in 2001-02, lifting the numbers here to a peak of 56,000 in 2003.

Anatole Bogatski, who was the Auckland Chamber of Commerce's international manager at the time and later established his own language school, says New Zealand was the first country to abandon quotas on Chinese students.

"We had a very low bar to cross and relatively easy immigration rules on converting their student visa into permanent residence," he says.

The boom collapsed almost as quickly as it occurred, when Education Minister Trevor Mallard made students prove that they could pay their future course fees and living costs.

Two language schools, Carich and Modern Age, closed in 2004 leaving students stranded.

New Chinese student visas plunged to under 2500 in 2005-06 before climbing back to a modest 4700 last year. Total Chinese fee-paying students have stabilised at around 21,000, or 22 per cent of all international students.

This reversal is purely a New Zealand story, as Chinese students studying overseas kept rising worldwide from under 300,000 in 2003 to almost 1.3 million last year. In Australia they increased from 48,000 in 2002 to 168,000 last year.

More broadly, like India, Europe and more recently New Zealand, China has long had a sizeable diaspora of citizens who have left to seek better lives elsewhere.

Apart from a handful of 19th century gold miners, New Zealand barred its doors to those migrants by denying permits to non-British citizens with few exceptions right up to 1987, when the policy changed to seek skilled people and rich "business investors" from anywhere.

The change came just as Britain was preparing to hand Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong's elite sought refuge abroad - 380,000 went to Canada alone between 1980 and 2001, and 25,400 arrived in New Zealand as permanent or long-term migrants in the decade up to 1997.

A similar exodus from Taiwan brought almost 20,000 migrants to New Zealand in the same period. And then, just as many of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese migrants actually started going home again from all countries, China's 1999 relaxation of travel restrictions sparked a new outflow from China itself. Chinese permanent and long-term arrivals here jumped from 3500 in 1999 to 16,000 in 2002.

This new influx was dominated by students and their families, and fell away again as the student boom collapsed. By last year China, including Hong Kong, was back down to only our third-biggest net source of immigrants behind India and Britain.

But the net effect of the two waves of immigrants was to lift the total ethnic Chinese share of New Zealand's population to 3.7 per cent by the 2006 census, the second-highest in the OECD behind Canada (3.9 per cent) and ahead of Australia (3.2 per cent). The 1.9 per cent of our population born in mainland China is higher than for any other OECD country.

Like all modern migrants, the Chinese are mobile. A fifth of all the Chinese approved for residence in the six years to 2009, and 40 per cent of the Taiwanese, had been absent for at least six months as at last June, compared with 14 per cent of migrants from Britain.

A 2007-09 study by Asian studies professor Manying Ip found that two-thirds of ethnic Chinese NZ citizens or permanent residents still identified only with their home country, and most of the rest identified with both countries. Only four out of 78 identified solely with New Zealand.

She found that many families alternated between their homelands and New Zealand or Australia, often getting educated here, returning to China or Hong Kong to work or to care for ageing parents, then coming back to New Zealand for their own children's education.

"The new Chinese migrants are astute and wish to keep all options open," she says.

Joe and Marianne Noma, an older Chinese couple at the Neighbours Day gathering in Botany, originally migrated to Melbourne in 1985 and still have a home there as well as in Auckland. Their son works with them in their property development business here, but their daughter is in Melbourne and they may go back there.

But Lisa Chu, who came here with her parents when she was 6 in 1986, may stay here with her Malay/European/Maori fiance, engineer Shariman Saad. She wants her future children to learn Chinese, but regards herself as a "Kiwi".

Their Neighbours Day host, Pastor Samuel Chong, who brought his family here from Malaysia eight years ago, says he has committed his life to New Zealand but is also proudly Chinese. "When I received the citizenship certificate they said, in a letter, you don't have to put down your own culture," he says. "It's so kind."

Chong says their Botany street has five Chinese families, four from Korea, two from India, a Filipino and about 20 Europeans.

Twelve years on, Tina Peters has become used to the changes.

"When we moved from where we were and came up here we started being that little bit more integrated and talking to everyone and having a bit more courage - well, this is how it is, we'd better start talking to people," she says.

Her husband John, who works with Chinese colleagues as a scientist at Middlemore Hospital, says the change "has not been negative at all".

"We have learned about the food and different cultures," he says.

When their daughter graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree at Auckland University about eight years ago, almost all her fellow graduates were Chinese. She and her husband now live in Singapore and plan to teach their children both Chinese and Japanese to equip them for the modern world.

Gradually our culture is changing. Saad and Chu buy takeaways from a variety of countries and enjoy Saturday night markets at the Pakuranga shopping centre. "It's Chinatown," Saad says.

Chinese businesses have sprung up in growing suburbs such as Botany and Albany, and have revitalised older parts of Auckland such as Dominion Rd and Northcote.

Tina Peters says Hong Kong and Taiwanese investors drove up local house prices in the 1990s.

"Every time we went to buy a house we were vying with five or six Chinese families," she says.

"We would put in an offer and they would just go over the top. Then you find out they had bought three of them. Of course house prices just went whoosh."

But the migrant investors were less noticeable by the time Saad and Chu bought their house four years ago. Indeed as a developer, Joe Noma believes Chinese builders are holding down new housing costs.

"We sell [building sites] to builders. In the last two years virtually 80 to 90 per cent are bought by Chinese builders," he says.

"They work hard. They work on Sunday, they work late in the evening. There's no such thing as 9 to 5."

But Dave Brown, who represents Auckland on the Certified Builders Association board, believes Chinese builders predominate only in the Botany/Dannemora area where many of the developers are also Chinese.

"They are prepared to work hard and are pretty competitive," he says. "But I'll stick my neck out and say I don't think they are taking work off New Zealand guys."

Hard-working Chinese students are changing the culture in our schools too. In 2009, 8.7 per cent of Asians who passed level 3 NCEA achieved with excellence, compared to 5.3 per cent of Europeans, 1.5 per cent of Maori and 0.5 per cent of Pacific students.

The Rev Stuart Vogel of the Auckland Chinese Presbyterian Church recalls resentment in the early years when Chinese students started "sweeping all the prizes" at his children's school, Mt Roskill Grammar. "Then people came to realise that they do the work for it. If you want the prize you have to do the work," he says.

At Auckland University, Ip says her students now work much harder than when she started teaching there in 1982 - due to course fees and a tougher job market as well as Chinese rivals.

"It was much more relaxed at that time, students negotiated about deadlines," she says. "That would not be allowed now."

In much the same way, Chinese preferences for apartment living and for large houses on small sections have contributed, along with rising land prices, to the shrinkage of the Kiwi quarter-acre section.

"Most of us are from the city and we don't know gardening," explains Pastor Chong.

The immigrants have helped expand public transport. Asians accounted for 82 per cent of the increased use of buses and trains by Aucklanders commuting to work between the 1991 and 2006 censuses. The census does not count journeys for study, but a glance into almost any term-time bus into central Auckland shows the effect of Asian students.

Of course Asian migrants have added to road traffic too, accounting for 38 per cent of Auckland's increased commuting to work by car between 1991 and 2006. Nationally, Transport Ministry figures show Asian drivers were involved in 9 per cent of all crashes in 2009, exactly equal to their share of the population.

Although many migrants are still not working in the fields where they qualified, some are breaking into the professions. Just over 5 per cent of our medical doctors are Chinese.

Local-born Chinese writers such as 2010 NZ Post Book Awards winner Alison Wong and film-maker Roseanne Liang have won recognition in mainstream Kiwi culture, and Chinese faces are now taken for granted on the TV news and in popular shows such as Masterchef.

It has been harder going in politics, with Labour's list MP Raymond Huo the sole Chinese MP since Pansy Wong resigned last year. There are no Chinese on the new Auckland Council and only three out of 149 people on local boards: Peter Chan in Henderson-Massey, Lily Ho in Whau and Wayne Huang in Howick.

Arguably Pacific people were only really accepted as New Zealanders when rugby stars such as Michael Jones and Tana Umaga started playing for the All Blacks. The Chinese may never make the All Blacks but sport can still provide links into mainstream society, as Huang found in February when he got the Howick Local Board to sponsor a visiting Chinese martial arts group.

On the other hand, he could not get the board to write an invitation letter to an 800-strong group from a major Chinese steelmaker who wanted to visit here after a reward trip to Australia. They didn't come.

"We lose a lot of opportunities like that," he says. "They need respect. They need to feel welcome."

In Botany, Pastor Chong believes cross-cultural interaction will increase gradually.

"If we organise more lantern festivals and Chinese New Year celebrations, more Kiwis will come and join us and slowly the Kiwis will understand us," he says.

"But one thing they need to know is that the world is like a village. You can't stay by yourself - you need to accept anybody who comes to your doorstep."
By Simon Collins | Email Simon
Chinese newcomer to fly daily from Auckland
By Owen Hembry
5:30 AM Tuesday Apr 12, 2011

China Southern Airlines' first flight from Guangzhou to Auckland touched down on Saturday. Photo / Thinkstock

New arrival China Southern Airlines is boosting its Auckland service and will also link Kiwis to London.

The airline announced at an event last night that in three months time it will start flying daily from Auckland to Guangzhou, up from three times a week at present.

It also confirmed plans to operate connecting flights on to London.

Earlier, chief executive Tan Wan'geng said the airline had been re-engineering itself as an international network.

"With China's economic developments being so fast we would like to take this opportunity to launch more new international routes and so our next goal in the future is to be one of the best internationalised carriers in the world and launch more international routes," Wan'geng told the Herald through an interpreter.

China Southern Airlines' first flight from Guangzhou to Auckland touched down on Saturday.

The new route is expected to bring in 25,000 visitors in its first year, with an estimated $75 million of extra value to the economy.

According to Statistics New Zealand, Chinese visitor numbers grew 31.2 per cent in the year ended January to 127,837 people - New Zealand's fourth-biggest market.

Australasia was the airline's number one priority - number two was Europe. "China Southern serves the routes going to Paris and Amsterdam and we will be launching the London routes soon."

In the United States, China Southern served Los Angeles and would soon launch new routes to Vancouver.

"So you can tell that the internationalisation of China Southern in the past few years is quite rapid."

Investment in the aviation industry was huge with profit margins relatively low, Wan'geng said.

The International Air Transport Association had forecast a trend for more super-sized carriers.

"And, of course, it's our goal to be one of those super-sized, mega airlines in the world," he said. "In this case, then the profit margin on the profitability of the airline can be improved."

Chairman Si Xianmin said the new route between Auckland and Guangzhou acted as an air bridge between the two nations.

"The deeper meaning behind the launch is that we can help the people of the two countries to communicate more and enhance the exchanges in the areas of trade, economy, culture, tourism.

"In the past few years, we have been investing capacity on the routes going to New Zealand and Australia so especially after the launch of the New Zealand route we need to work on our next steps, which will be our new route from Guangzhou to London."

The airline understood that New Zealand and Australia had special connections with Britain, he said.

"So our next target will be to connect London to New Zealand and Australia via Guangzhou."

China Southern was expected to carry more than 80 million passengers this year and wanted to be a Skytrax five-star airline within two years.

The majority of capital needed for development came from banks and the airline, which was listed in Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York, had undertaken two public offerings during the past three years which had raised 13 billion RMB ($2.54 billion).

Air New Zealand has welcomed China Southern into the market and said with that airline's presence in China the whole New Zealand brand would grow.

First NZ Capital head of research Rob Bode said China Southern flying to London would provide more choice and competition for travellers.

"I guess it's only at the margin, they're [Air New Zealand] used to competition with plenty of airlines."
By Owen Hembry | Email Owen

Where there's a will, there's a shopping centre

Where there's a will, there's a shopping centre
By Andrew Stone
5:30 AM Wednesday Apr 13, 2011

The Northcote shopping centre has developed into a hub for Chinese business, with immigrants keen to take on small businesses with manageable risk and decent rewards. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Drive in every direction in Auckland and you'll soon pass shops with Chinese characters above the street frontage.

Go far enough east, north or west and you'll encounter not so much a Chinatown as an ethnic precinct, a collection of small businesses dominated by Chinese store owners where shoptalk is in Mandarin and a solid majority of customers are Chinese.

Kit Wong, developer of Somerville and Botany Park Estate, two Chinese retail hubs in east Auckland, would love Auckland to have a pulsating Chinatown like the vibrant and slightly mysterious attractions in other Pacific rim cities, such as Sydney or Vancouver.

Wong spent much of the 90s creating Somerville, one of Auckland's ethnic destinations.

The Hong Kong migrant sensed that newcomers from Asia were hankering to get into a small business, an enterprise with manageable risk and reasonable rewards.

The Auckland University property graduate put together a syndicate of investors and created what he called an "incubator", where shop owners could buy a cleverly designed space which doubled in size if trade took off.

Wong knew the Somerville neighbourhood was made up of what researchers called "ethno-burbs" - areas with clusters of Chinese-born residents.

So he made sure the retail centre had a covered area where elderly Chinese could gather for morning exercises such as t'ai chi. Shops were built so owners could keep an eye on their neighbours for security and to stay in touch.

"I could sense that for the project to work we had to create a place where new migrants could stay close together and support one another."

Signs show Somerville is working: Wong reports 100 per cent occupancy.

Closer to central Auckland, two areas of Dominion Rd have become Chinese real estate - food stores, restaurants, small business enterprises, beauty parlours, internet cafes. The precincts are backed by banks, real estate, insurance and finance firms all with China specialists.

And a fair number of the Chinese shopowners along the famous strip of bitumen bought their premises from business broker Yong Wu.

A hospital physician in his native China, Wu got to selling businesses via a route familiar to many migrants. Faced with language tests and costly bridging courses to work in New Zealand as a doctor, Wu found himself running a fish and chip shop in Epsom.

Five months of long hours and lack of family contact was enough. He found he had a knack for selling and became a broker with Affiliated Business Consultants, specialising in the Chinese market. Handily, ABC is on Dominion Rd.

Wu has been in the market long enough to see his clients return after two or three years, swapping their first takeaway bar for a cafe.

"They want more time with their family. They want to shift from seven days to five. They'll say 'We don't need to work these hours anymore'."

From his perspective, the most difficult challenge facing his clients is language. "All new migrants find communication in English difficult. That's why they choose a business they can manage and control and why they tend to cluster."

Wu says heat has gone from the market over the last three or so years, when sellers could charge a new owner $30,000 in key money. He feels the change coincides with rising incomes in China, and New Zealand's persistently flat economy . "I think as a country we need to watch these trends. If China is getting bigger and better then we should be too."

Tofu entrepreneur Ron Hoy Fong has shifted from working "in" his nine-store grocery chain to working "on" it. He has franchised the stores, which he started in 1987 as a hobby from home.

Chinese migrants arriving under relaxed immigration rules couldn't get enough of Hoy Fong's bean curd, so Roy took the plunge and quit his career at Social Welfare.

The first store bearing the distinctive Tofu Shop sign opened on Dominion Rd in 1992.

New Zealand-born Hoy Fong, 62, wanted a broad customer base, so he hired Chinese staff with a good command of English who could handle the bartering of "rich Chinese guys who would turn up in a gold Merc and want to knock a few cents off the price".

Two decades later he's getting out of the day-to-day grind, preferring to manage supply links to the stores, handle advertising and be on hand to help the new owners.

He has no doubt the new wave of mostly Chinese entrepreneurs who have bought the franchises will succeed with energy and ideas. In the Newmarket shop, the new owner has sublet a tiny part of the shop to a Chinese finance service where students can do transactions far more cheaply than in banks.

Sitting in a food hall as an afternoon rush of students arrives, Hoy Fong considers that Auckland is lucky with its legacy of Chinese settlement.

He grew up among Pakeha; now his networks are dominated by Chinese newcomers: "They're people with energy. They are succeeding, not because they're shrewd, but because they're prepared to work hard."
By Andrew Stone

A little Mandarin for breakfast

A little Mandarin for breakfast
By Lincoln Tan
5:30 AM Wednesday Apr 13, 2011

Wei Li (right) and co-host Gor Wang run through New Zealand and international news stories. Photo / Paul Estcourt Shrink

TVNZ's Breakfast programme and TV3's Firstline may be in fierce ratings competition, but the only morning news programme that matters for Chinese housewife Nina Wang is WTV's I Love New Zealand breakfast show.

Thousands of viewers and listeners tune in to the two-hour show every weekday morning between 7.30 and 9.30, and for Mrs Wang, it's how she remains connected with local and international news.

"When I look at newspapers like the New Zealand Herald, I only look at the pictures and the words remain a blur because I cannot read English," she said. "But this show keeps me connected to news that's happening locally and internationally."

WTV chief executive Henry Ho says the programme's anchor Wei Li, or Willy Shen, is popular, and describes him as "the Chinese Paul Holmes".

"Nearly everyone in the Chinese community knows him or at least recognises his voice," Mr Ho said.

The show broadcasts over WTV's free-to-air Chinese TV8 and Chinese Voice radio AM936, and starts with half an hour of Shen and a co-host reviewing the latest local news, featuring many Herald stories.

A China and international news segment follows, with five-minute news updates every half hour.

The high point comes after the 8.30 news update, when callers can air their views in Mandarin in a talkback segment.

"Our callers like the opportunity of being able to participate and have their opinions heard on air in their own language," said Mr Ho.

"Tuning in to this segment has become part of the daily life for many Chinese in New Zealand."

Reporter Ling Ling Liang said the topic for discussion on the programme last Thursday about the $2 million plastic waka attracted about 20 callers to the programme, which is about the daily average.

The phone line heats up when there's a hot topic linked to the Chinese community such as the Pumpkin case and the Kiko murder, she says.
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln

Giving voice to all generations

Giving voice to all generations
By Andrew Stone
5:30 AM Wednesday Apr 13, 2011

David Soh is almost buried under stacks of newspapers.

Old editions of his Mandarin Pages are jammed into every spare cranny of his chaotic Hobson St building. Upstairs, a plastic bucket catches drips from a leak in the roof .

The 48-year-old publisher/editor/owner shrugs that he just doesn't have time to sort out the jumble, or the drip.

Deadlines for the next day are closing and he cannot upset the advertisers who cram the paper's columns - tradesmen seeking work, appeals for flatmates, ads for jobs, study help, migrant lawyers, Chinese foods and "hot Asian girls".

Soh is a survivor in a lively media market aimed squarely at New Zealand's Chinese community and, more broadly, residents from other Asian countries.

It is possible for Mandarin speakers anywhere in New Zealand to immerse themselves entirely in Chinese media.

They can get round-the-clock television, pick up Chinese radio online and, if they live in Auckland, read nothing but Chinese-language newspapers and magazines.

The World TV network pumps out 10 Chinese pay channels and two on free-to-air from its Penrose headquarters.

Sister stations Stratos and Triangle also screen Chinese programmes.

The on-line generation is served by, a Chinese language website run from an upstairs Queen St office where moderators keep tags on forums visited by as many as 60,000 users a day.

Soh's newspaper, now 20 years old, has weathered downturns, rival Chinese language publishers, the internet, Auckland's traffic and Beijing politics.

What started as an A4 sheet appearing twice a week has become a profitable, six-day publishing enterprise in which classified advertisers pay $12 to leave their copy on a 0900 phone line and news from China arrives courtesy of arrangements with the giant Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily.

For that reason, Soh steers clear of stories critical of China and its leaders and is careful with material about Taiwan.

So the Falun Gong, the Chinese spiritual movement which opposes one-party rule in China and is active here, does not get a run in the Mandarin Pages.

Explains Soh: "I don't want to be the meat in the sandwich."

Besides, he says, Falun Gong adherents have their own mouthpiece, the Epoch Times , which can be found at outlets where Soh's drivers leave copies of his free paper.

The father of two didn't set out to run a newspaper. Born in Malaysia, he trained as a computer programmer and spent a few years in Canada. He came here because his brother was working in New Zealand and spotted a gap in the market.

From its modest start the paper has cracked 10,000 circulation. On Saturdays, the inky broadsheet runs to 36 advertising-rich pages.

Soh employs one reporter, uses rewritten material from English language sources and has a stable of bloggers who contribute their views.

He says he has survived partly by keeping his costs down - something which not doing sank rival Chinese publishers.

Sheer hard work is also a big part of it. Soh admits he spends a lot of time at his midtown premises, but does see his young son and daughter at Christmas when the paper takes a break.

Two blocks away from the Mandarin Pages, rows of flat computer screens shimmer with the bright shiny pages of, New Zealand's largest Chinese language website.

Fresh technology, young staff - no one in the room seems over 30.

But executive director Kylie Liu says she's 31, and operational officer Dorathy Li is 32.

The two reel off the Skykiwi numbers: 100,000 registered members, (you have to be registered to join online forums), 60,000 visitors a day to its homepage and other channels, growth as much as 20 per cent a year, 70,000 members of iHome, a social network channel similar to Facebook.

Ninety per cent of its users come from mainland China, and 80 per cent are under 35. The website offers a reassuring path for young Chinese heading Downunder: 11 per cent of users click online in China itself.

Driven by language students a long way from home, Skykiwi started 10 years ago when newcomer Justin Zhang opened an electronic window for thousands of young arrivals in a foreign land.

Zhang has moved to Sydney where he has started a similar portal,

Now it's the task of graphic designer and marketing graduate Liu to expand the brand. She too was a Chinese student and sees plenty of potential for the class of 2011 and beyond to hook up to the website.

Besides viewing its online news channel, website visitors can browse an education site about studying, living, and moving to New Zealand, another site dedicated to business and investment news, a web forum to chat with other users, a local business index and a channel for Skykiwi members to get discounts.

The website made the first Chinese online drama Sunshine Beyond the Rain about eight Chinese students in Auckland. The 20-part soap was about love, friendship and life.

It doesn't end there: the site links to Youku, the Chinese version of Youtube, and this year launched an iPhone application. Ties have been forged with mobile operator 2degrees and the site links to TV3.

On the business front, Skykiwi has completed a series of joint promotions. One featured the BNZ encouraging the use at its banks of China Union Pay credit cards. A hugely popular match-making promotion listed speed dating locations for a table for 10.

The startup company has moved from online into magazines, and soon will publish its fourth edition of Hakazone, a glossy 100-page publication, with dozens of tearout coupons for members at Auckland restaurants, fashion shops, cafes and a chain of pet shops.

The January edition featured two young Skykiwi members who photographed their wedding in Venice.

Liu thinks of Skykiwi as a "community" which connects through the website.

So how free is comment on Skykiwi? Users can express their views in its forums, she says, and to a degree be critical of their homeland. But they need, she cautions, to make their point.

Every night in a semi-industrial part of Penrose, several interpreters work feverishly translating TV3's 6pm news into Mandarin and Korean. By 10pm a subtitled bulletin goes to air on two World TV channels, one for Korean viewers, the other for Chinese audiences.

The WTV enterprise started from scratch 10years ago. Using money from a handful of investors, chief executive Henry Ho and chief operating officer Gary Chang have created a diversified media group catering exclusively to New Zealand's Asian community.

WTV runs 10 pay channels through Sky and, since 2008, Chinese TV8 on Freeview, a breakthrough deal which simultaneously broadcasts in Cantonese, the language familiar to those from Hong Kong, and Mandarin, the principal mainland China dialect.

The network also delivers FM and AM radio and wraps up its programming on an electronic magazine.

Top-rating shows from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are screened to 11,000 subscribers and a potential audience which WTV puts at 50,000. Popular locally-produced breakfast shows, which feature lively talkback topics, run simultaneously on radio, further extending the audience.

Each year WTV produces an Idol-type show from start to finish, even polishing the singing of performers. For the past few seasons the network has shown beauty pageants in a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, a privately owned broadcaster watched by millions of Chinese.

The two executives say a big challenge for the network is capturing the generation of New Zealand-born Chinese whose first language is English. Subtitling shows is slow and costly, and shows from Singapore with Chinese faces and English-language sound lack appeal.

They also have to navigate their media business through the tricky currents of Chinese and Taiwanese politics. Ho says WTV is a New Zealand television company, screening material from Asia to an audience from a range of countries: "We have to be neutral."

Chang and Ho never thought they'd be running a broadcaster when they arrived 21 years ago. Both say they migrated to retire in New Zealand - fast-food importer Ho from Hong Kong and Chang, a video distributor, from Taiwan.

Their wives met at a video store - and a business idea was born. The pair spent two years negotiating with Sky to carry the Asian channels. Now they employ 120 staff, including a small news team. The network sent a crew to Christchurch last month where young Chinese students were among the casualties.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been spent on the Penrose studios, though Ho notes "we are not a Rolls-Royce operation".

The two managers say that immigration policy could have an effect on WTV's future but they are proud of what they've achieved.

Says Ho: "Every week we find we can do something more."
By Andrew Stone

Kiwi-Chinese artist's work spans cultures

Kiwi-Chinese artist's work spans cultures
By Lincoln Tan
5:30 AM Friday Apr 15, 2011

Asked to describe his art style, Shanghai-born Dennis Juan Ma says it's "Kiwi-Chinese".

The 31-year-old freelance illustrator moved to Auckland in 1999 to study graphic design at AUT University, and now his unique art style - which he says is a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Western - is in international demand.

His client list includes brands such as adidas, Red Bull, Converse and Tiger Beer, and his work is featured in fashion, editorial, advertising and children's books.

"I don't think New Zealand is just all about Maori art any more, and the increasing ethnic diversity of the country means my style of art should be seen as Kiwi."

Ma says he draws inspiration from Chinese traditional painting, Japanese manga and American comic art, creating pieces that are retro yet modern.

He did not have any formal art training before his AUT graphic design course.

"I am a big fan of comics, and I think that has played a large part in my interest in art and also helped with my story telling skills through my art."

A devout Christian who attends Auckland Baptist Tabernacle, Ma says he wants to use his art to also promote his faith and culture.

"I think Chinese art, especially those during the 1940s and 50s are really cool, so I use them as a basis for my illustration," he said.

"Through my art, I hope to build a better understanding of my beliefs and culture, which I think is important at this time for New Zealand especially in multicultural Auckland."
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln

Taste for the grandiose stamps mark on urban landscape

Taste for the grandiose stamps mark on urban landscape
By Simon Collins
5:30 AM Thursday Apr 14, 2011

Grand mansions on small sections are popular among Chinese immigrants. Photo / Sarah Ivey Expand
Grand mansions on small sections are popular among Chinese immigrants. Photo / Sarah Ivey

When veteran architect Ron Sang drives around the outer fringes of Auckland near Albany or Botany, he can always spot a house built for a Chinese buyer.

"Generally it has a high portico on the outside - a big, high, ostentatious-looking porch, usually double height," he says.

"Generally above the door you have a window and through the window you can see chandeliers. Inside the door you'll see a big, ostentatiously curved stairway. They like to show wealth."

These grand mansions on small suburban sections - what sociologist Paul Spoonley, adopting a Canadian term, calls "monster houses" - have become the stereotypical Chinese footprints in our cityscape.

By popular account their Chinese buyers pushed up prices beyond the reach of average Kiwis. Then many of the husbands went back to their businesses in Hong Kong or China, leaving their wives and/or children in the mansion to complete their education.

Today, 20 years on from the first wave of Hong Kong migrants, there is a new twist to the story.

Many of the Chinese have moved on, either back to Asia or to leafier parts of town such as Remuera and Epsom. And their "monster houses" in the outer suburbs are now as likely as not to be inhabited by Kiwis.

"All cultures want them - South African clients, New Zealand clients," says a younger, New Zealand-born Chinese architect, Elvon Young, 35.

"We do design lots of 'monster houses', primarily for Kiwis. They are large, but not necessarily with pillars."

Other economic and lifestyle factors, partly related to the growing gap between our rich and poor, have helped to double the average size of our new houses from just over 100 square metres in the early 1970s to over 200 square metres today. But wealthy Chinese investors have certainly had an effect.

Mr Sang, a Fiji-born Chinese architect who came here in 1957, designs for anyone at "the very top end of the market". But his Chinese clients are in a league of their own.

"Every house we do for Chinese immigrants is normally twice the size," he says. "It's about 300 square metres for New Zealanders. You double that to 750 square metres for a Chinese family.

"The price range is $2.5 to $3.5 million. That's the norm, excluding the land. The land is at least another $1 to $2 million."

Some of the extra space is needed for visiting relatives.

"When the grandparents visit they don't just come for a few days. They come for three months," Mr Sang says.

Other design elements stem from feng shui principles, such as never having the front and back doors within sight of each other in case the energy that comes in the front door blows straight out the back.

For 40 years, Mr Sang has made big front doors his trademark, often two metres wide and three to six metres high "to let the energy come into the house".

Malaysian-born Hamilton architect Chien Chow says the big front doors also reflect traditions of photographing the bride as she leaves her parents' house to get married, and carrying the dead out of the house to be buried.

"When you have a coffin at home you need six people, three on each side, so the doors are quite big," he explains.

Cast-iron lions on either side of the door are "guardians to your house", says Mr Sang, who has two pairs outside his own home in Epsom. They are common outside banks and hotels in China and increasingly here too - outside Auckland's Pullman (formerly Hyatt) Hotel, for example.

"Kiwis don't like that kind of showing off," Mr Sang says. "The difference with the Chinese is that they like people to see it."

Ironically, however, many of the most stereotypical "Chinese" houses are actually designed by New Zealand developers.

"There are developments that have been specifically designed for the Chinese investment market," Mr Young says.

"So when you come to New Zealand and the developer offers you one of the 'monster houses' that are all over the subdivision, you don't actually think they are offering you anything out of the norm.

"Also, the Asian communities are in pockets. People want to go where the Asian shops are and where their friends are."

Studies show that Auckland's Asians are actually much less segregated than either Pacific people or Maori. Predictably, given their relative wealth, one study found that Asians in the 2006 Census were "sharing areas with NZ Europeans to a much greater extent than they do with Pacific Islanders and Maori".

The map on the page opposite, produced by Professor Spoonley's team at Massey University, shows pockets where more than 20 per cent of people were Chinese in 2006 in newer parts of the North Shore, Pakuranga and Botany, in the inner-city student zone, in Epsom's "Grammar zone", and in Mt Roskill and New Lynn.

Mr Sang says many wealthy Chinese who started in the outer suburbs have since moved into Epsom to send their children to top schools. Often they demolish older homes so they can build their own.

"Every house we do now we have to demolish one," he says.

Coral Wong of the Property Investors Association says the wealthy influx from Hong Kong and Taiwan on long-term business visas drove up house prices in the early 1990s.

"That caused the property market to really overheat," she says.

Reserve Bank research by Andrew Coleman and John Landon-Lane found a close correlation between net immigration and house prices nationally over 45 years up to 2006. Every 1 per cent increase in population was associated with an 8 to 12 per cent increase in house prices.

Even allowing for other factors such as the economic cycle which could be influencing both immigration and house prices, the correlation persisted.

Dr Coleman concluded that immigration drove prices up partly just because everyone expected it to.

Put the other way around, his numbers suggest that house prices rise by 1 per cent for every increase of one-eighth of 1 per cent of the population, or about 5000 people.

"So every 5000 immigrants equals a 1 per cent increase in house prices. That is very large by international standards, and is not well understood, but definitely if they all arrive en masse that is when it seems to be destabilising," he says.

Net immigration from Hong Kong and Taiwan peaked at a combined inflow of 6160 in 1995, but shrivelled to just 708 people last year.

Net migration from mainland China peaked at 14,745 at the height of the language school mania in 2002, but also dropped back to 3568 last year, third behind India (6314) and Britain (5273). An outflow of 20,000 New Zealanders reduced the overall net inflow to just over 10,000.

Harcourts agent Matty Ma, who took 58 high-end properties to the Shanghai expo last year, sold fewer than 10 of them because policy changes have made it harder to get residence here without good English and skills.

Although the investor category rules have been liberalised again recently, Ms Wong says most Chinese investors don't qualify because the rules require transferring money through the banking system.

"That's not possible because the foreign exchange central bureau will not approve," she says.

"After the policy changes I don't have any clients coming in. But what we are seeing now is the Chinese corporates coming in with $10 million to invest."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Winning over our hearts, and stomachs

Winning over our hearts, and stomachs
By Lincoln Tan
5:30 AM Monday Apr 11, 2011

In part 2 of the Herald series 'China and us', Lincoln Tan looks at how China has influenced the eating habits of New Zealanders.

This Kiwi has been interested in all things Chinese for the last half a century - long before the meteoric rise of China to a global economic powerhouse or even before large numbers of people from the Middle Kingdom migrated to Middle Earth.

For 78-year-old Allan Hughes, his love for everything Chinese began more than half a century ago when a Chinese girl - the only one at the school he studied at - dropped him a note on the last day of school saying she liked him.

"I envisioned we will be spending our lives together, and began taking an interest in the Chinese culture and learned a few words so I could converse with her family," said Mr Hughes, a retired Immigration New Zealand compliance manager.

But their love was not to be, and although the pair went their separate ways after finishing Palmerston North Technical, Mr Hughes started a new love affair - with the Chinese culture - which has carried on until today.

"There is a certain depth, richness and a sense of mystery in the culture and language that just intrigues you," he said.

Some of Mr Hughes' friends call him the "Kiwi Chinaman".

He's the only Pakeha member of the Chinese band Bai Hua (100 Flowers) and his hobbies include watching Chinese DVDs and playing Chinese tunes on his ukulele.

Two large gold-framed Chinese calligraphy sets adorn the living room wall at his Lisnoe Ave home, where the flags of both China and Taiwan are also prominently displayed.

Last year, he participated in and won a Chinese radio singing contest crooning what's regarded as the most famous Chinese love song The Moon Represents My Heart by Teresa Teng.

Mr Hughes says he loves how the Dominion Rd area, close to where he lives, has been transformed into a "mini Chinatown", where Mandarin and Cantonese fill the air and the smell of roast duck and barbecue pork curls out of the many Chinese restaurants and cafes.

Like many Kiwis, not too long ago getting a takeaway dinner meant fish and chips or roast, but Mr Hughes says now it's more likely yang chow fried rice or roast duck noodle at a local Chinese cafe.

Although Mr Hughes is likely to be the exception rather than the norm, sociologist Paul Spoonley says China's growing influence will continue to touch the lives of Kiwis in many ways - but the biggest influence will be in food and how we eat.

"New Zealanders will eat less roast and potatoes and more rice and soya chicken. In fact, it's already happening," said Professor Spoonley, of Massey University.

"Our habits have changed, and instead of heading out for Sunday roast, many more Kiwis are going to Chinese restaurants for yum char."

Professor Spoonley, who heads the Integration of Immigrants Programme, said food and retail were the two most popular "business choices" for Chinese immigrants.

In 2006, 20.8 per cent of China-born migrants were involved in food and accommodation services, while 15.8 per cent were in the retail trade.

Between 2001 and 2006, the number of migrants from China doubled to 53,694, which now makes up more than half of the ethnic Chinese population of Auckland.

"Of the retail businesses they start, most also involve food or consumption, such as a grocery shop or a Chinese supermarket selling Asian food and ingredients," he said.

Chinese food retailers and restaurants have been part of New Zealand since the 1920s, but gained a foothold in the 1960s.

Since the 1990s, Chinese food and restaurants have become an "omnipresent and obvious part" of most major cities in New Zealand, especially Auckland.

Professor Spoonley said food is the "most obvious manifestation" of diversity and Chinese presence in New Zealand.

He said many of the fish and chip takeaways and coffee shops that had been taken over by Chinese operators were imbued with a "Chinese touch" - offering a Chinese menu or selling Chinese pastries on the side, and many also no longer alter the dishes "to suit Kiwi tastes".

Asian food guru Connie Clarkson says Chinese food is attractive to New Zealanders because it is "affordable and easily accessible" - and it will become even more so in these tough economic times.

"Dining at a European restaurant can burn a hole in your pocket, but you can get a decent feed for around $10 at some Chinese ones," Ms Clarkson said.

She said the Chinese influence in food also extends into meat cuts and ingredients used at Western restaurants, and even some cooking programmes on television.

"Pork belly, a Chinese favourite, is now widely used even at top end Kiwi-European restaurants, where Asian fusion dishes are becoming common," said Ms Clarkson, an ethnic Chinese originally from Singapore.

Chinese ingredients are now used in shows like MasterChef New Zealand, she said.

Most Chinese restaurants approached by the Herald said they have experienced a growth of between 20 to 50 per cent of non-Chinese customers in the last five years.

Dynasty Chinese Restaurant on Wakefield St said its non-Chinese patronage has grown from 10 per cent when it opened about 15 years ago to making up more than 50 per cent now.

"Pakeha customers used to order just things like sweet sour pork and fried rice, but now they are more adventurous and some are even asking for dishes that they have discovered during their travels in Asia," said Mui Seng Lee, who co-owns the restaurant.

Simon Verbiest, a business consultant, says eating Chinese meals has gone from "just a novelty" to becoming "a regular staple" for him.

The 24-year-old described himself as "semi-adventurous" who would eat anything except red beans, but finds eating things with bones - like chicken feet - hard work.

Mr Verbiest said having a Chinese fiancee also played a part in his interest in Chinese food and culture.

Retail assistant Janine Lawson, 26, who grew up on a Waikato farm said she started "falling in love" with Chinese food when she moved to Auckland to further her studies five years ago.

Until then, she had been eating mainly porridge and scrambled eggs for breakfast and roast meals for dinner, but now prefers eating "char shao bao" (barbecue pork bun), which she has ready stocked up in her freezer, and fried rice and chow mien for tea.

Auckland-born Chinese lawyer Arthur Loo recalls how his father had to import Chinese ingredients from Hong Kong "just so that we can have an authentic Chinese meal" 40 years ago.

"Now, we can get everything just five minutes away."
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln