Parts of Dominion Road had become 'distinct ethnic prec' />

Auckland's Dominion Road has been identified as a potential Chinatown tourist attraction.

Parts of Dominion Road had become "distinct ethnic precincts" over the past 20 years, with Asian food shops and restaurants dominating retail space, a just-released Massey University study found.

It said that in the area from Balmoral to Kensington Ave, 78 per cent of businesses were Asia-owned (including 51 per cent by Chinese) and only 14 per cent owned by European New Zealanders. Between King Street and Valley Road, nearly half of businesses were Asian.

But for new immigrants, ethnic precincts on Dominion Road represented much more than just a place to shop, the report said.

"These areas help new migrants maintain their cultural identities by speaking a native language, eating familiar foods and meeting with others born in their homeland," the report says.

The study, Halfway House: the Dominion Road Ethnic Precinct, by the Integration of Immigrants Programme, set out to assess the contemporary character of two sections of the iconic street -- the longest straight stretch of road on the Auckland isthmus stretching nearly six kilometres from Mt Eden through Balmoral to Mt Roskill.

The fact that Auckland did not have a Chinatown, despite such a high Asian population, set it apart from most other multicultural cities in the world, said study co-author sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley, research director for the University's College of Humanities and Social Sciences.