Congratulations, New Zealand, it's a government. One which was a tad overdue and eventually had to be delivered by C-section - standing variously for caesarean, culture, and China.

Those three because Winston may be aged but he remains Caesar-like in his ability to rip a country apart and put it back together with something of his stamp upon it.

And no matter his final choice, China has figured large in NZ First's debates and will continue to be a contentious topic, not least because of the impact a rush of migrants may have on traditional Kiwi culture.

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That's a reasonable concern. Our founding touchstone is the Treaty of Waitangi, a document essentially partnering the English Crown with indigenous iwi, and although other ethnic strands - including Chinese - were woven in from an early stage, our history as a nation has developed around that British/Polynesian blend.

It was not until Britain effectively cast us adrift when it entered the European common market that we began, as a country, to ask ourselves where (else) we really fitted in the world.

Logically it made sense to cosy up to our nearest (also ex-Empire) neighbour Australia and, with it, to see ourselves as the leading lights in the Pacific scatter of nations.

But that scatter is too small economically; both countries have had to search out new trading territories to remain buoyant. And while other Pacific Rim powers the USA and Japan have enjoyed expanding trade and influence here, NZ has preferred to go with Australia into first Southeast Asia and then China.

Inevitably, given China's huge and unrelenting drive to achieve pre-eminence globally, it is our relationship with the Chinese that has prospered more than any. Since Labour signed a free trade agreement in 2008 two-way trade has tripled, to almost 20 per cent of our imports and exports.

Ironically perhaps it is National politicians who seem to have benefited most from continuing to grow this relationship. Of the three major Chinese banks now resident here, two are headed by former National Party leaders (Jenny Shipley and Don Brash) and the other features ex-finance minister Ruth Richardson as well as Hawke's Bay's Chris Tremain on its board.

Others such as Judith Collins have developed close business ties with Chinese companies and - with former spy-teacher turned MP Jian Yang a conspicuous presence - questions are being asked as to whether National's relationship with China is as independent and objective as it should be.

But the major acknowledged impact is the predictable spin-off from increased tourism and educational trade - migration. People of Chinese ethnicity now make up over 4 per cent of the population and Asians generally 12 per cent. Sometime in the next 20 years - if immigration continues at its current pace - there will be more Asians than Maori living here.

Doubtless that's a factor Peters will have played up during negotiations, given his party's anti-immigration stance. How it translates into policy remains to be seen.

But it also raises the question: are we (or should we think of ourselves as) an "Asian" nation?

I think most Kiwis would say no; we're primarily a Pacific nation. But if those of Asian background came to outnumber Polynesian, could we still legitimately make that claim? And what would it mean if we couldn't?

I'm not xenophobic but I am aware that most Asian cultural norms are very different from what we are used to, particularly in the ways folk like the Chinese think about governance.

Whether our collective cultural kete is as soundly woven as it should be to assimilate those who choose to migrate here is a question now being tested.