Faculty of Arts


New Zealand and Asia


Japan was an ally in World War One, an enemy in World War Two, is now New Zealand’s fourth biggest trading partner, but its stance on whaling remains troubling. New Zealand was the first country to sign a free trade agreement with rising superpower China, now New Zealand’s number one trading partner, whose gold miners it had sought to exclude in the late nineteenth century.

But how should New Zealand position itself with regard to the dispute between the two over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands? Can New Zealand stand by its values of democracy and human rights while still maintaining a working relationship with China? New Zealand sent troops to fight in the Korean and Vietnam wars; how is this connected to the end of the British Empire, the signing of the ANZUS Treaty and New Zealand’s attitude towards the United Nations?

This course will enable you to put the pieces of the puzzle together – and, as well as making you Asia-savvy, it will also make you New Zealand-savvy, examining our multicultural present in terms of a colonial and settler past.

Today New Zealand defines itself as a country of the Asia-Pacific region and its future prosperity is envisaged in terms of its relationships with the countries of Asia. Soon New Zealanders of Asian descent will outnumber migrants of Asian descent. But spool back a hundred years or so and New Zealand’s whole existence was determined by its membership of the British Empire and its relationship with Britain, and people from Asia were feared as the "yellow peril".

This course explores how we got from there to here, and investigates the contemporary political, social, economic, cultural and strategic relations between New Zealand and countries of East and Southeast Asia. It also challenges the divide between "New Zealand" and "Asia" by exploring both the history of Asian migration to New Zealand and aspects of contemporary Asian New Zealand culture through film and literature.

The course is interdisciplinary and is taught by a team of academic staff from across the University.


Coursework + exam

Availability 2021

Semester 2




There is no course book – all materials used in the course are available via the comprehensive course website.


Coursework + exam


ASIAN 140: 15.0 points

Contact details | Search | Accessibility | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer | 1