Asians represent the fourth major wave of immigration to New Zealand, and, partially as a consequence, their voting patterns are the least well understood. What makes it especially difficult is that “Asian” covers a very large number of people, many of whom are very distinct from some of the others.
The most striking thing about Asian New Zealanders is their love of the ACT Party. The correlation between being Asian and voting ACT in 2014 was an extremely strong 0.85, which is enough to suggest that most ACT voters are Asians (note that it does not mean most Asians are ACT voters, because the population of Asians is many times higher than the number of ACT voters).
As is described elsewhere, the highly educated class tends to split into a right wing that votes ACT and a left wing that votes Green. If the correlation between voting ACT in 2014 and being Asian is so strong, one could predict that there were fewer educated Asians left to vote Green, and indeed the correlation between voting Green in 2014 and being Asian was 0.00.
Also because of the extremely strong ACT support, one could predict that there was little conservative sentiment left over for supporting the National Party. This is indeed the case – the correlation between being Asian and voting National in 2014 was 0.09. There was even less for the real Conservative Party, voting for which in 2014 had a correlation of -0.07 with being Asian.
The correlation between being Asian and voting Labour, by contrast, was 0.17. Some might be surprised by this, given that there are a large number of Asians attracted to the ACT Party. The explanation is that most of the ACT-voting Asians are from Far East Asia and the many from India, Thailand, Malaysia etc. are more likely to have social democratic sentiments.
Given that Maoris were the first wave of immigrants and Asians the most recent, it’s not really surprising that being Asian had a significant negative correlation with voting for any of the four Maori-heavy parties. Being Asian had a correlation of -0.23 with voting Internet MANA, one of -0.30 with voting Maori Party, one of -0.50 with voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and one of -0.60 with voting New Zealand First.
This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.