Asian communities’ well-being in Aotearoa during Covid-19

The mitigating role of sense of belonging in the relationship between racism and life satisfaction


  • Lynne Soon-Chean Park School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Rebekah Jaung Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Joohyun Justine Park Interdisciplinary Centre for East Asian Studies, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
  • Changzoo Song University of AucklandSchool of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand



Racism, Sense of belonging, Life satisfaction, COVID-19, Asian communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, Migrant health and well-being


INTRODUCTION: Anti-Asian racism was a feature of the social response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on the well-being of Asian communities warrants closer examination. The current study aimed to gauge whether the sense of belonging mitigated the adverse effects of racism on life satisfaction for self-identified Asian New Zealanders.

METHODS: This analysis included 1341 responses to a cross-sectional online survey conducted in 2021. Descriptive analyses outline how components of a sense of belonging were distributed among participants and those who experienced racism during the Covid-19 pandemic. We used linear regression to examine the role of a sense of belonging as a potential pathway variable in the association between experiencing racism and life satisfaction.

FINDINGS: In this survey, four out of 10 participants reported experiencing racism in the first 18 months of the pandemic. Participants’ life satisfaction decreased slightly since January 2020 (p<0.001). Experiencing racism was associated with decreased life satisfaction. All the components of sense of belonging reduced the magnitude of this negative association between racism experience and life satisfaction, in particular, expressing one’s own ethnic identity and belonging in Aotearoa.

CONCLUSIONS: Given that anti-Asian racism is currently a feature of life and a significant stressor during the pandemic, this study provides empirical evidence of the protective role of a sense of belonging against anti-Asian racism. This study focused on Asian members in Aotearoa New Zealand, but its practical implications have the potential to support other minoritised ethnic communities who also experience racism during the pandemic and beyond.

Author Biography

Lynne Soon-Chean Park, School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Lynne S. Park is a Research Fellow in Korean Studies, School of Culture, Languages and Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland. She received her PhD in Social Work at the University of Auckland in 2020. Her interdisciplinary research combines social work, migration and Korean Studies with a particular focus on ethnic minority groups in the context of New Zealand. Current areas of research include qualitative research methodology, the social dimension of identity and the impact of COVID-19 on Asian communities.


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How to Cite

Park, L. S.-C., Jaung, R., Park, J. J., & Song, C. (2023). Asian communities’ well-being in Aotearoa during Covid-19: The mitigating role of sense of belonging in the relationship between racism and life satisfaction. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 35(1), 95–112.



Original Articles