Asian health overview

Key points about Asian health

  • The Asian population is the fastest growing ethnic grouping in Aotearoa NZ.
  • It's clear that the make up of the Asian community is diverse and there is a great need to have culturally appropriate and safe resources to help Asian communities achieve health.
Asian family sitting on couch
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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. 

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(external link)(external link) and the Health needs assessment of Asian people living in the Auckland region(external link)(external link) 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. 

Indian woman with two children sitting on a couch


Image credit: Canva

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

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

Examples of models of health in the Asian population include the following:

Scientific and Western biomedical model 

This model is based on disease causation and believes that medicine is the art and science of healing. Prevention and treatment of illness is key to maintain and restore health. 

Supernatural model

This model is based on the influence of a 'power' or 'powers' on one's health, eg, good health occurs when social relations are good while poor health occurs when social relations are disturbed. 

Spiritual or religious model

This model is includes the concept that good health is thought to occur when one is fulfilling the requirements of one's faith, while poor health means one has not been true to their faith.

Humoral or balance model

This model is based on the theory that the human body is filled with 4 basic substances called humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. All diseases and disabilities result from an excess or deficit of one of these. 

Moral model

It is believed that a disease or a condition is caused by a moral defect such as laziness, weak will or selfishness. 

Psychosocial stress model

This model attributes illness to overwhelming psychosocial stressors. 


  1. Introduction to Asian cultures(external link) Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Courses and Resources, NZ

Asian Health Services (Waitematā DHB)

This service provides language, cultural and emotional support for staff, Asian patients and their families in the Waitematā DHB region. Services include:

  • Asian Patient Support Service
  • Asian Mental Health Service
  • iCare health information line
  • general practitioner booking and breast screening support
  • WATIS interpreting, covering 90+ languages.

Visit Asian Health Services(external link).

Asian Family Services

Asian Family Services (AFS) provides professional, confidential, nationwide face-to-face or telephone support to Asian people living in New Zealand. These services are offered in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Hindi. An interpreter can be arranged for other languages.

Visit Asian Family Services(external link)

The Asian Network Incorporated (TANI)

TANI supports Asian New Zealanders to enjoy an optimal quality of life and wellbeing and develop strong and healthy Asian communities in Aotearoa New Zealand. They have a range of events and resources for the Asian population. 

Visit The Asian Network Incorporated(external link)

Your Local Doctor

This website provides information on:

  • where to go for healthcare
  • the benefits of seeing a family doctor
  • the general practice enrolment process
  • frequently asked questions
  • useful case studies and links for migrant families.

This service is supported by the Auckland Regional Asian and Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African (MELAA) Primary Care working group. Visit Your Local Doctor(external link).

To find more Asian services use the HealthPoint website.(external link)

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


Here are just a few resources. You can find more in our language section.



  1. Asian health chart book 2006(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2006
  2. NZ Census 2013(external link) 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(external link) Social Science and Medicine, 2004;59:1613-1627.
  5. Mehta S. Health needs assessment of Asian people living in the Auckland Region(external link). Northern District Health Board Support Agency, NZ, 2012
  6. Challenges for Asian health and Asian health promotion in NZ(external link) Health Promotion Forum of NZ, 2015

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team

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