The narratives of Asians amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand: Navigating a virtual realm in the context of anti-Asian racism



Asians, Anti-Asian racism, Ethnic social services, Symbolic interactionism, Virtual realm


INTRODUCTION: The Asian population, the third largest ethnic group in Aotearoa New Zealand, confronts persistent socio-economic exclusion exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic amidst rising anti-Asian racism. The study aims to explore Asians’ pandemic experiences and their impact on their quality of life in Aotearoa New Zealand, with the goal of contributing to tailored knowledge development for Asians in crisis situations.

METHODS: The study, theoretically grounded in symbolic interactionism, examines stories of 26 Asians representing Chinese, Indian, Filipino and Korean communities. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews identifies patterns encapsulating participants’ strategies to sustain their lives and challenges faced during the pandemic.

FINDINGS: The Covid-19 pandemic profoundly disrupts participants’ lives, evoking anxiety and uncertainty. In response, they turned to virtual realms to maintain daily routines and connections with their home countries. They often relied on ethnic communities for support due to difficulties in accessing formal support systems. Notably, North-east Asians face adversity from racism targeting individuals with a Chinese appearance, resulting in reduced self-esteem and weakened societal belonging.

CONCLUSION: The study sheds light on challenges Asians face amidst escalating anti-Asian racism and highlights the crucial role of ethnic social services during the pandemic. Social workers must engage with ethnic communities, partnering with ethnic social services, to address Asians’ needs in times of crisis.

Author Biography

Hagyun Kim, Massey University

Hagyun is a senior lecturer at School of Social Work at Massey University, New Zealand. He has worked for many years in immigration and refugee studies and has published on immigration process, identity, settlement programme design and evaluation. He is strongly interested in research that promotes the dignity of ethnic people, in particular Asians and refugees in civil society.


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How to Cite

Kim, H., Han, Y., & Lee, D. (2024). The narratives of Asians amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand: Navigating a virtual realm in the context of anti-Asian racism. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 36(2), 39–56. Retrieved from



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