RNZ Targets NZ-Asian Audiences

RNZ has announced it is hiring a team of journalists to produce news for the Chinese and Indian diaspora communities in New Zealand, with job ads already attracting attention. 

The recent decision in the Beehive to mothball the proposed merger of RNZ and TVNZ left many wondering where to next for public broadcasting in New Zealand.

Well, part of the answer has emerged in the last week or so with RNZ’s announcement that it will be expanding its news coverage to include stories from the Asian diaspora.

New Zealand is of course home to a significant Asian population, with people of Indian, Chinese, Korean, and other Asian ethnicities making up around 15 percent of the population. Some of that diversity is already seen on RNZ's website and in its broadcasting, with the arts profile series "Arts Stories in Aotearoa" and similar programmes. 

Despite this, news coverage in New Zealand regularly overlooks stories from the Asian community, leading to a lack of representation and a poorer understanding of their challenges and perspectives.

RNZ's popular series focusing on Asian New Zealnd artists in Aotearoa. Photo: RNZ

RNZ’s Head of News, Richard Sutherland, says the initial positions in the new unit are already being advertised.

“The reporting will be mainly for the website, and the first round of jobs includes a Camera Operator, two journalists to report on the Indian diaspora community and a journalist to report on the Chinese community” he says.

“And there will be further jobs. The next round will focus on journalist-translators for English and Chinese stories. Another role aimed at the Chinese community is already under way”.

The RNZ Asia project began last year, though versions of the concept and how to deliver it have been discussed and promoted inside the company over many years.

NZ On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Fund agreed to a proposal to put together a team in time for October’s general election, focusing on the two largest Asian diaspora groups in Aotearoa.

RNZ's Wellington newsroom. Photo: ANZF

NZOA’s own survey in 2021 looked to focus in on what media Asian New Zealanders consume, with earlier studies having already established Asian diaspora were the least engaged with local media and also some of the groups least represented in creative and media roles. NZOA found many felt local media was “not for them”, but that looks to be about to change.

“NZ on Air’s survey information showed that many in the Chinese community consumed news in their own languages and didn’t really engage with mainstream NZ media,” says Richard Sutherland. 

“On the other side, many in the Indian community did read news in English, and did engage with mainstream news sites, but also felt they didn’t see their stories represented there.”

He says RNZ is adopting different strategies to different parts of the expected audience.

“The focus on the Chinese side is on writing in Chinese, starting with Simplified script and then reviewing progress. On the Indian side, the focus is news in English concerning New Zealand’s Indian diaspora”.

- Asia Media Centre