Social media and Asian entertainment are helping young New Zealanders connect with Asia in new ways, according to the latest survey.

The 2018 Perceptions of Asia survey, conducted by the Asia New Zealand Foundation on 2,000 Kiwis, showed that under-30s are learning more about Asia from their peers and they, in turn, are passing their knowledge on to older generations.

Asia New Zealand Foundation Executive Director Simon Draper said: “Asia is starting to become more familiar to New Zealanders, but the knowledge and confidence they have gained are coming from a wider variety of sources that we have perhaps seen in the past.”

Increased personal connections and travel to Asia are helping to make New Zealanders feel more knowledgeable about the region, the survey found.

It showed a marked increase in New Zealanders’ self-assessed knowledge of Asia compared to five years ago.

Nearly half of all New Zealanders feel they know at least a fair amount about Asia, compared to 33 percent in 2013.

About 81 percent of New Zealanders think it is either important or very important for New Zealand to develop economic and cultural ties with Asia, and about 78 percent of New Zealanders think learning an Asian language would benefit New Zealand children, the survey showed.

Awareness of China’s Belt and Road Initiative is rising, with 44 percent of those surveyed had heard of it, up 8 percentage points in a year. Most people are neutral or positive about it, it said.

General awareness of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is high, with 82 percent of those surveyed said they had heard of APEC, but only 6 percent thought they knew “a fair amount” about it.

However, the survey showed four out of five New Zealanders did not know New Zealand is hosting APEC in 2021.

The foundation has been tracking New Zealanders perceptions of Asia since 1997.