More than a third of Chinese New Zealanders say they're not sure who they want as Prime Minister, according to a recent survey.

But of those who did, Winston Peters was their third preferred choice on 3.1 per cent, but the overwhelming favourite was Bill English on 45.7 per cent, ahead of Andrew Little on 8.6 per cent.

The WTV-Trace Chinese voter poll surveyed 1250 eligible Chinese New Zealand voters and 179 who were currently not eligible to vote.

They were recruited through Trace Research's Chinese consumer panel, and the report claims to be the first in-depth study of the New Zealand Chinese vote.


The study had also found three quarters supported National and the biggest rise in support was for New Zealand First.

Researcher Dr Andrew Zhu said the poll was conducted between April 27 and May 1, before Winston Peters' attack on two New Zealand "Asian immigrant" reporters.

"Future polls may show a different picture," Zhu said.

The survey found National supporters were also most likely to want their leader, Bill English, to be Prime Minister, on 74 per cent.

Andrew Little received only 57.4 per cent approval from Labour supporters, and 27.4 per cent were unsure who to support.

More than half of the respondents thought both leaders had done only an average job, but English scored a satisfaction level of 28.8 per cent, compared with Andrew Little in negative on -26.8 per cent.

Among the Chinese political figures, four in 10 believed Jian Yang would be the one to most effectively serve the community in the next three years.

The National List MP is one of two Chinese representatives in Parliament.

Labour's Raymond Huo is second with a score of 14.6 per cent, followed by Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon on 6.3 per cent.

"Further analysis reveals that 42.5 per cent who don't know whom they can rely on are primarily National supporters and those who have not made up their minds which party to vote for," Zhu said.

"This sends a strong signal to the National Party of the potential for greater community engagement."

Dr Xin Chen, research fellow at the University of Auckland NZ Asia Institute, said the popularity poll "will put a lot of pressure on these people to work even harder for their constituents".

"I therefore hope that their respective parties will grant them greater support," Chen said.

Dr Jian Yang said he was pleased to see strong support from the Chinese community.

"We work hard to ensure Chinese people have a voice in National, and we're constantly focused on the issues that matter to them," said Yang.

"We never take the Chinese community's support for granted...for me, every year is an election year."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters believed a growing number of Chinese voters were connecting with its party policies.

"They see the need for a common-sense approach to issues," Peters said.

"It's in the Chinese character to understand long term planning, and oppose the consequences of shortsighted quick fixes."

Peters said many Chinese immigrants came from successful economies like China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, or were familiar with them.

"They are beginning to note the similarity of NZ First's policies with those economies," he said.

"Their voting demographic is changing and they can recognise puffery and propaganda more quickly than most."

Labour's Raymond Huo said the poll showed many Kiwi Chinese voters placed "high value on incumbency".

"Many Kiwi Chinese who are from non-parliamentary backgrounds may not perceive political issues in the same way as other New Zealanders because their ideas of incumbency are culturally entrenched," Huo said.

"Our focus will be to present Labour policy in the most effective way and to encourage Kiwi Chinese people to participate in the nation building process as New Zealand residents and citizens."

Huo said he would encourage members of the community to participate in the political process if he gets into Parliament as a Labour MP.