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Media statement

New Paper on Asian New Zealanders’ Wellbeing and the Living Standards Framework

Issue date: 
Monday, 3 September 2018
Corporate author: 

Today the Treasury has published a new paper, An Asian Perspective and the New Zealand Treasury Living Standards Framework by Dr Sue Yong of Auckland University of Technology. It is part of the Living Standards Series of discussion papers aimed at promoting and supporting conversations about wellbeing in New Zealand.

The paper uses the Stats NZ Asian ethnic group definition as people from China in the north to Indonesia in the south and from Afghanistan in the west to Japan in the east. It is acknowledged that people grouped under the generic label ‘Asian’ are very diverse and that common aggregation in research using the term ‘Asian’ does not account for the cultural, language, religion, socioeconomic and migration differences.

The author states that as one of the four largest demographic groups in New Zealand, projected to be the second largest by 2026, a New Zealand Asian perspective on the Living Standards Framework is critical. Asian cultures strongly value collectivism, often with hierarchical relationships and distinct gender roles. Collectivist cultures emphasize the needs and goals of the group as a whole over the needs and desires of individuals. In such cultures, relationships with other members of the group and the interconnectedness between people play a central role in each person’s identity and wellbeing.

The Confucian teachings which emphasise diligence, perseverance, frugality, responsibility and recognition of the hierarchical orderings of relationship have also heavily influenced Asian cultural values and perceptions of wellbeing. Hence, from the view of the Living Standards Framework, Asian cultures place much emphasis on social and financial/physical capital.

The Asian population is currently experiencing a number of issues related to the determinants of wellbeing, including health (mental health, non-communicable diseases and access to health services) and immigration (employment difficulties). Experiences of perceived discrimination also heavily impact their wellbeing. 

The paper proposes that indicators are needed on:

  • social cohesion, settlement and sense of belonging
  • racial acceptance and cultural recognition
  • employability
  • accessing government services such as English proficiency, health care and interpretation services.

These are attempts to take into consideration Asian cultures’ unique set of values and their distinct determinants of wellbeing.

The Treasury recently released a discussion paper looking at wellbeing in the context of Pacific perspectives, and will soon release a paper exploring te ao Māori perspectives. The Treasury is encouraging people to share their views on its culture-focused discussion papers to help ensure the Living Standards Framework recognises and reflects what is unique about New Zealand and New Zealanders. Feedback can be sent to

The Living Standards Series of discussion papers can be found on the Treasury’s website: Living standards most recent papers.


Bryan McDaniel | Principal Communications Advisor
Telephone: 04 917 6268 or 021 817 207
Last updated: 
Monday, 3 September 2018