The Asian culture Māori people feel most connected with

Māori people feel a strong connection with the Japanese culture, says a new study by Asia New Zealand.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation conducted a survey of over 1400 Māori 15 years and older, its results showing a large proportion of Māori people identify strongly with certain Asian cultures.

The Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples from a Te Ao Māori Perspective survey said Japan was the most familiar to Māori, with Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian and Taiwanese following.

Some of the concepts that connected particularly well were hosting guests, performing arts, food customs, respect for elders/kaumātua and valuing relationships.

"In Māori culture, manaakitanga translates to hospitality, or the importance of making guests feel welcome." 

The study explains the Japanese have a similar concept called omotenashi. 

"Omote means public face, and nashi means nothing. Combined, the term loosely translates to hospitality that goes beyond face value."

The study said Māori culture emphasises the importance of kaumātua, or elders as keepers of knowledge and tradition, a similar value to multiple Asian cultural values.

"Filial piety, or respect for one's elders, is also one of the core values of Confucianism, the Chinese philosophical tradition that has influenced many East Asian cultures. 

"Meanwhile in the Philippines, there is a tradition called mano po, where a young person asks for the blessing of an elder... when greeting older relatives."

It compared the haka to ceremonial dances from the Papua province of Indonesia, including a dance performed by warriors before they headed off to battle.

The study said Māori people were more likely to view the cultural impact of Asian peoples positively than not, and were more positive than negative on the impact of tourism, immigration and investment from Asia.

It reported the most common place Māori and Asian people would interact would be at work, and Māori from Auckland reported having more contact with Asian people than anywhere else in the country.

But the survey also highlighted some areas where relations between Māori and Asian cultures could improve. 

"Sixty percent of Māori recognised the benefits of New Zealand engaging economically and culturally with Asia, but less perceived that Māori benefit from this relationship.

"Half [of those surveyed] thought that not enough was being done to prepare young New Zealanders in this space. Only eight percent thought that enough was being done to equip Māori business to succeed in Asia."