Asian voters are backing John Key and National this election, and Labour is facing an uphill task trying to convince them to vote against the trend.

Among the 36 Asian voters surveyed in a Herald poll of 315 across Auckland, Mt Maunganui and Hamilton, 16 said they will be voting National compared with 13 who intend voting for Labour, and 27 believed the state of the country was good, very good or excellent.

Two said they will be voting for the Greens, one Conservative and the others were either undecided or will not be voting.

A separate poll of 30 mainly Chinese and Korean non-English speaking voters in the Auckland CBD found the support for National even stronger, with 26 - or close to 90 per cent - saying they will either be voting, or likely to vote, National.


Labour's attacks on the Government's intention to sell the country's assets and Phil Goff's labelling of Prime Minister John Key as a liar for breaking a pre-election promise about raising GST seem to be gaining little traction, with most surveyed saying they "understood" why these had to be done, and some even came up with explanations to back them up.

"When we came to New Zealand, I promised my children I will buy us a big house and a boat. But I had to break my promise when I struggled to find a job and money became tight," a Chinese voter said. "I don't think that makes me a liar."

Besides the economy, Chinese and Korean voters said education and health were their two biggest concerns, and many were not opposed to state assets being flogged off "as long as the money is used [for] better education and health care".

For Indian voters, law and order was the biggest issue after the economy.

With a voting population numbering about 200,000, Asian New Zealanders have become a significant target for political parties.

Labour Chinese MP Raymond Huo said the party was working hard to win the Asian vote, including holding nightly meetings to sell party policies.

"The trouble with many Asian voters is that they tend to vote according to trends without really understanding the issues," said Mr Huo.

"We are telling them that this election is a choice to either have a Government formed by a party for the privileged few, or one that stands for the ordinary many."


Mr Huo rejects the finding of recent political polls saying the "feeling on the ground" was many in Asian communities supported Labour's policies.

He said it was Labour that appointed the first Minister for Ethnic Affairs in 1999, issued a formal apology over the poll tax on early Chinese migrants and many in the Asian communities would have also benefited under past Labour policies.

National Indian MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, who is standing for Manukau East, said the reception from ethnic voters there had been better than before the 2008 election.

"Generally the feeling is that the National Government is heading in the right direction, and will be able to take the country through this hard time," Mr Bakshi said.

Both Mr Bakshi and Mr Huo will likely be returned to Parliament on their party lists, along with other sitting Asian MPs National's Melissa Lee and Labour's Rajen Prasad.

At No 36 on National's list, academic Jian Yang will be the party's new Chinese MP to replace former Ethnic Affairs Minister Pansy Wong.

Chinese and Korean: Economy, education, health.

Indian: Economy, law and order, health.

(Source: Herald survey).

Battlegrounds where the Asian vote matters
* Mt Roskill (Phil Goff, Labour): 23,376 Asians, 40.3 per cent.
* Botany (Jami-Lee Ross, National): 18,570 Asians, 33.5 per cent.
* Pakuranga (Maurice Williamson, National): 15,711 Asians, 27.2 per cent.
* Mt Albert (David Shearer, Labour): 14,370 Asians, 24.1 per cent.
* Manukau East (Ross Robertson, Labour): 14,220 Asians, 22.9 per cent.
* New Lynn (David Cunliffe, Labour): 13,326 Asians, 22.6 per cent.
* Northcote (Jonathan Coleman, National): 12,654 Asians, 21.2 per cent.