There's more to New Zealand's Chinese business community in 2015 than the stereotypes such as market gardens, vege shops and takeaway bars.

As China's economy has rapidly expanded over the past couple of decades, the Asian superpower's commercial giants have spread their wings and gone out into the world.

Major Chinese banks, telecommunications firms, airlines and dairy companies now have a presence in New Zealand.

But Frank Cui, head of migrant banking at BNZ, said there was still a tendency in this country to underestimate Chinese businesses.


Some Kiwis were yet to realise the New Zealand-based Chinese business of 20 years ago was often very different to today, he said.

"I think we need to change the perceptions around Chinese businesses overseas."

Cui made the comments ahead of the BNZ New Zealand Chinese Business Awards, which took place at Auckland's Langham Hotel last night.

Winners included China Southern Airlines, Huawei New Zealand - the local division of the Chinese telco giant - and Lisa Li, managing director of China Travel Services NZ.

Milk New Zealand Holdings took out the supreme winner award.

Despite the increasing presence of large Chinese firms in New Zealand, Cui said most local businesses did not view them as a big competitive threat.

Three major Chinese banks - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank - have set up shop in this country in recent years.

They are mostly focused on trade banking, such as Chinese firms operating in New Zealand and vice-versa, as well as grabbing a slice of the local migrant banking market. But Cui said he did not view the three Chinese lenders as a threat to BNZ's business.


"I'm not in a position to comment on their strategy, but I know them and every time we bump into each other we don't feel like we're competing or a threat [to each other]," he said.

"We'll talk about where's the best Chinese restaurant in Ponsonby, things like that."

Cui said the relationship between Chinese firms and the wider New Zealand business community was largely positive, but some areas could be improved. "I think communication could be more effective."

Cui, who arrived in Auckland from China in 2001, also said individual Chinese entrepreneurs in New Zealand could be more open-minded about the businesses they chose to get involved in.

"Most of them are in retail, hospitality and property development areas," he said. "I'm not saying that's wrong, but there are also other things they can do."

Adding value

BNZ Chinese New Zealand Business Awards winners

Supreme Winner

Milk New Zealand Holdings

Business Innovation
Huawei NZ

Fastest Growing Business
China Southern Airlines NZ

Best Emerging Business
Milk New Zealand Holdings

Graeme Wong (director of firms including Precinct Properties and Tourism Holdings)

Best Business Practice
Kai Zhang (sales director at NZ New Milk)

Best Relationship Builder
Lisa Li (managing director of China Travel Services NZ)