This week in Taiwan I saw the life I could have had.
When I was a small girl, my uncle (and godfather) suggested to my parents that they swap one of their four boys for the youngest of my parents' four girls (me). This would have given my parents a much-desired son, and his family a daughter. A neat solution which would have left me to grow up in Taiwan while my parents and sisters emigrated to New Zealand in 1970.
Mum and Dad said no, but seeing my godmother this week (uncle passed away recently) has shown me what I could have had - a life in a big business family as part of an ethnic majority rather than a minority, in a hard-working, fiercely competitive society which has dragged itself by its own bootstraps from the third world to the first in little more than a generation.
Even so, the experience made me realise that coming to New Zealand was the making of me.
I haven't been back in Taiwan with both my Mum and Dad since we emigrated.
I was last in Taiwan 24 years ago, on my way home from Harvard Law School to be a lecturer at Victoria University Law School. It was 1988, and I got the news en route that my paternal grandfather had just died, so I arrived in time for his Buddhist funeral. Back then, I was still pretending I wasn't Chinese because it created too much disadvantage. My parents hadn't even insisted we speak Mandarin at home, so we could better succeed by speaking like real Kiwis.
There was a lot to prove and not much help. Being underestimated made me more determined. I knew we had to work harder, but hard work and perseverance are two values of the Chinese culture. I learned that the most important thing for migrants to thrive is not to be ashamed of who you are, and to not let others make you ashamed.
As New Zealand, and Auckland in particular, becomes less European - with an increased number of Pacific Islanders (10 per cent) and Asians (16 per cent) by 2026, according to Statistics New Zealand - we need to ensure that migrants are motivated by maximising the opportunities of their new adopted country, and not by anger at being treated as inferior.
Different is not worse. Indeed, difference can bring opportunities to make links between cultures that bring economic, cultural and social benefits to New Zealand.
When I am interviewed by Asian media about whether New Zealand is racist, I explain that you can still make it here if you work very hard, assimilate and make a contribution.
This week, along with the fun of roaming the markets with my Mum, I will meet with prominent law practitioners who are Harvard alumnae to swap notes. I have also given a lecture on New Zealand's constitution and our human rights at a Taiwanese law school. (Coincidentally my father, and my Oxford don sister, are also currently in Taiwan giving guest lectures at universities).
The Taiwanese are proud of their democracy and have recently enacted legislation incorporating the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and are reviewing all other laws for consistency.
I also met with the director of New Zealand's Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei and discussed the many linkages between New Zealand and our eighth-largest export market; the near monopoly New Zealand has on the kiwifruit market in Taiwan; the likelihood of an economic co-operation agreement with Taiwan; and the significant Taiwanese investment in China, New Zealand's second-largest export market.
And there are more linkages than I had thought. On a private tour of Taiwan University and its museum I learn about the DNA links between the 14 indigenous tribes in Taiwan and Maori.
Am I glad we emigrated? Definitely. I have had opportunities I do not think I would have had in Taiwan, and New Zealand is my home.
Am I glad I am Taiwanese? Definitely. I think it has made me more determined to make a contribution to New Zealand from a viewpoint that is not always the same because I have walked a different path.
Mai Chen is a partner at Chen Palmer and the author of Public Law Toolbox.