Asian health overview

There is significant growth in New Zealand's Asian population over recent years.

The Asian population 

Statistics New Zealand in 1996 defined 'Asian' as people with origins in the Asian continent from Afghanistan in the west to Japan in the east, and from China in the north to Indonesia in the south. Asian ethnicity in New Zealand can be categorised into:

  • Chinese
  • Indian
  • other Asian. 

In 2013, 11.8% of the New Zealand population identify themselves as Asian, a 33% increase since 2006. Most of the Asian population in New Zealand (65.1%) live in the Auckland region. About 31% of them are aged between 15–29 years old and their median age is 30.6 years old. 

Health status of Asian people in Aotearoa NZ

In general, the Asian population is considered to have good health that is comparable to the general population in New Zealand. However, there is also the impression that people of Asian ethnicity have favourable outcomes on a range of health indicators compared to other major ethnic groups in NZ. This is based on the 'healthy migrant effect', where the health of immigrants is better than the natives born in the country for a period of time. This is because they are thought to have a higher socioeconomic status in their home country, hence they have the resources to migrate. 

There have been a few publications in the past decade that particularly focus on Asian health. Both the Asian health chart book and the Health needs assessment of Asian people living in the Auckland region provide an in-depth analysis of Asian health outcomes. They concluded the following:

  • Indians or South Asians have high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and low birth weight
  • Chinese have a high risk of stroke.

It has also been found that the Asian ethnic group as a whole also has lower rates of access to health services and healthcare utilisation, particularly the Chinese. Examples of health services include:

  • GP enrolment
  • screening services
  • access to mental health services
  • disability support
  • aged residential care. 

Factors affecting access to health services 

There are several factors that affect access and utilisation of health services in the Asian population. These include:

  • communication and language barrier
  • lack of knowledge
  • social isolation
  • distance from friends and relatives
  • socioeconomic status
  • cultural beliefs 
  • stigmatisation
  • racism and discrimination.

Learn more

Asian health The Asian Network Incorporated, NZ
Challenges for Asian health and Asian health promotion in NZ Health Promotion Forum of NZ 
NZ Asian wellbeing and mental health report Trace Research, NZ, 2021


  1. Asian health chart book 2006 Ministry of Health, NZ, 2006
  2. NZ Census 2013 Statistics NZ, 2013
  3. Abbott M. & Young W. Asian health chart book 2006  foundation for a new health agenda in New Zealand? NZ Med J. 2006;119(1244).
  4. McDonald JT, & Kennedy S. Insights into the 'healthy immigrant effect'  health status and health service use of immigrants to Canada Social Science and Medicine, 2004;59:1613-1627.
  5. Mehta S. Health needs assessment of Asian people living in the Auckland Region. Northern District Health Board Support Agency, NZ, 2012
  6. Challenges for Asian health and Asian health promotion in NZ Health Promotion Forum of NZ, 2015
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.