Luna Zhao

Luna Zhao relishes sharing ideas and meeting new people as her PhD explores how Kiwi political parties use marketing to target Chinese New Zealand voters.

Luna Zhao sitting in the Arts Quad

Key facts

Programme: PhD
Specialisation: Politics and International Relations

"I'm originally from China. Before coming to Auckland to do my PhD I worked as a credit analyst in my home country for nearly a decade. My PhD journey is like an adventure to me: coming to a new country, being a student once again and meeting amazing people.

"My research investigates how New Zealand parties use political marketing to target Chinese voters, which is an understudied area of modern politics in New Zealand. I'm seeking to explore how political parties understand, reach out, build connection, communicate with and gain support of the Chinese community.

Political incorporation of ethnic minorities is vital for a country to maintain a just and healthy democracy.

"Chinese New Zealanders, as the third largest ethnic group in NZ, should not be overlooked in this conversation. We can see that there are an increasing number of electoral candidates with a Chinese ethnic background and there are also ongoing interactions between party leaders and the Chinese community.

"My research is meaningful in terms of looking at incorporating ethnic minority groups into mainstream political agenda. A healthy society needs to find ways for ethnic minorities to voice their concerns and express their needs and wants. I think New Zealand political parties play a crucial role here given that they can represent ethnic minorities in government and respond to voters' concerns through policy.

"When considering your PhD, it's important to find a topic that you are keen on. In the first year, you may spend some time on finding the topic and experience ups and downs. This is normal and totally fine. Keep on reading, writing and thinking. Don't panic if something goes wrong. Talk to your supervisors, your peers and ask for help from the faculty.

"For me the most important thing is to relax and enjoy the PhD experience. I can feel frustrated sometimes but I really enjoy the moments when trading new ideas with others, presenting my work publicly and making a contribution to new knowledge."