Self-Employment Among Chinese Immigrants in New Zealand


  • Elsie Ho University of Waikato
  • Richard Bedford University of Waikato
  • Joanne Goodwin University of Waikato



Chinese immigrants, self-employment, labour force integration, business immigration policy


This paper examines the self-employment patterns of Chinese immigrants in New Zealand, using labour force data provided in the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings and survey data from interviews in New Zealand and Hong Kong. As expected, the census data show that the propensities to enter self-employment increase with age and length of residence in New Zealand. Amongst the Chinese immigrants who came to New Zealand after 1986, the pursuit of self-employment is unlikely to be confined to immigrants approved under the business immigration schemes. Structural barriers to employment, such as non-recognition of overseas qualifications and experiences, can also drive many contemporary Chinese immigrants into self-employment. The second part of the paper reflects on the business experiences of recent Chinese migrants in New Zealand, drawing on research carried out on the migration of entrepreneurs to New Zealand from Hong Kong during the 1990's. We conclude our paper by discussing some of the implications of the Government's recent business immigration policy changes. We emphasize the need for a post-settlement policy and other initiatives that will ensure that immigrants are able to maximize their opportunities to contribute effectively to New Zealand's economy and society.


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Author Biographies

Elsie Ho, University of Waikato

Research fellow at the Department of Geography

Richard Bedford, University of Waikato

Professor of Geography at the Department of Geography

Joanne Goodwin, University of Waikato

Researcher at the Department of Geography