Provincial Relationship


Supporting economic development and community well-being between the Waikato Region and Guangdong Province

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The main points


In 2019 Eastern Bridge formalised New Zealand's first regional relationship between the Eastern Bay of Plenty Councils and the Jiangxi Provincial Government.

A similar relationship with another New Zealand region is sought by the Guangdong Province. Eastern Bridge identified the Waikato Region as being the most suitable partner for Guangdong.

The primary purposes of the relationship are:

  • support economic development through investment
  • international students/export education
  • tourism attraction
  • assisting Waikato companies to gain access the affluent Guangdong market
  • community development through exchanges, education & cultural preservation
  • opportunities for travel & overseas experiences

It is proposed that the Waikato Regional Council lead the project with support from the district and city councils, iwi, the business community and other regional stakeholders.

Eastern Bridge has completed a strategy for the project, secured support from the Guangdong Provincial Government and Beijing officials. An office has been established and staffed in Guangdong, and the Waikato section of Hongi to promote the region offshore has been launched.

Eastern Bridge is seeking commitments from interested parties. If your organisation would like to know more about this exciting opportunity please contact us.

Below is a copy of our high-level strategy.

Download the document in PDF

Table of



Setting the Scene

-Asian Impressions of Waikato

-Role of Waikato Councils in International Relations

Benefits at a Glance

Collaboration, the Key to Success

-Regional - Provincial Relationship



-Export Education

-Regional Promotion Centre

-Hongi Information Portal



-Cultural Preservation


Benefits of Using Eastern Bridge

-Company History

-Our Team

Investment Required

Guangdong Profile


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The Waikato-Guangdong Relationship


Thanks to the brilliant efforts by kiwis, our economy is in great shape as the world recovers from 2020, however we must keep forging ahead.

Leveraging off our powerful New Zealand brand in overseas markets will be integral to our success.

It will be of vital importance that Waikato’s leaders work in genuine partnership with their stakeholders to move forward together and promote themselves on the global stage.

Creating an economic & cultural relationship with Guangdong, a province in China, New Zealand’s number one trading partner, gives the Mighty Waikato a transformational leadership opportunity to ensure that real prosperity can be enjoyed by this, and future generations.

It has been proven time again, that Mayoral led delegations into East Asia provide opportunities for the communities they serve and produce excellent results for businesses.

The opportunities include;

  • job creation
  • international education
  • increased exports
  • investment and
  • tourism

Further, with the expected increase in our Asian population to 26 percent by year 2043, via these relationships, Waikato Regional Council can lead the community to become culturally aware and inclusive.

By engaging Eastern Bridge as its third party delivery agent, Waikato Regional Council will partner with a team of dedicated, experienced professionals in New Zealand and China. Leveraging its existing networks, Eastern Bridge will raise the profile of Waikato across East Asia, with a particular focus on Guangdong Province. Eastern Bridge will also support key stakeholders to increase investment, opportunity awareness, profitability, export education and job creation.

As the popular Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Section 2

Setting the Scene

Asian Impressions of Waikato

According to the annual Eastern Bridge: Asia Perceptions Survey, the Waikato Region is fairly welcoming for Asian migrants, students and visitors. The number one concern by respondents was their inability to access reliable information about the region or its communities in their own language. The lack of Asian language support is an inhibitor to visitors, international students, business people or skilled migrants engaging with the region.


Welcoming Community | this is the overall score the region gained in the survey


Welcoming Travel Destination | indicates how respondents felt about the region as a tourism destination


Liveability | indicates how respondents felt about the region as a place to live


Ease of Accessing Healthcare | indicates how respondents felt about the quality and accessibility of the region’s healthcare services


Education Satisfaction | indicates how respondents felt about the local school quality, communication and inclusiveness


Ease of Finding Employment | indicates how respondents felt about the area’s employment offerings

Role of Waikato Local Governments in International Relations

In most Asian countries, local governments are influential in a range of aspects including commerce, education, environment and international relations. Having a Mayor involved with or endorsing a business event, or promotion will add enormous credibility to the venture. The office of a New Zealand Mayor can initiate approaches for local businesses to explore new markets by maintaining a close working relationship with their local government counterparts in Asia. New Zealand councils can help to build a platform from which new ventures may be launched.

This strategy outlines many of the opportunities which Council engagement with Guangdong has to offer. These may be categorised in two areas: economic development and community benefits. Both are key components of a meaningful and sustainable relationship.

Economic development opportunities include:

  • Export education
  • Tourism
  • Investment attraction
  • Business attraction
  • Attracting skilled migrants
  • Facilitating trade

Community benefits include:

  • Demonstrating that the local community is welcoming to new ideas and to migrants
  • Facilitate links for young people to explore global opportunities
  • Grow opportunities for students to learn about new cultures and languages
  • Assist community organisations to develop international links
  • Support schools to grow international links

By becoming 'Asia-Ready' Councils can also better leverage our existing migrant communities. Asian migrants in New Zealand play an important role both economically and socially. The average Asian resident is highly qualified, most likely to be employed or own a business. The bottom line is, Asian immigration provides a positive contribution to our communities.

According to data collected at the 2018 census, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tourism New Zealand and Education New Zealand there is an average of 240,000 Chinese language speakers in New Zealand at any given time. There are also significant Korean and Japanese populations.

Chinese speakers in New Zealand | Residents: 177,000 | Visitors: 610,000 | Students: 39,000

Korean speakers in New Zealand | Residents: 36,000 | Visitors: 93,744 | Students: 7,300

Japanese speakers in New Zealand | Residents: 13,100 | Visitors: 99,800 | Students: 11,00

Vietnamese speakers in New Zealand | Residents: 9,000 | Visitors: 18,600 | Students: 2,410

Russian speakers in New Zealand | Residents: 15,100 | Visitors: 12,300 | Students: 490

By engaging with the resident and transient Asian communities in New Zealand, councils will be able to influence their decisions when considering travel destinations, looking for employment or considering where to open a business. The migrant communities, visitors and international students also play an important role as a conduit back to their home countries which, in turn can lead to further tourism, international students or investment.

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Section 3

Benefits at a glance

Economic Development


  • Job Creation
  • Investment and Business Attraction
  • International Student Attraction
  • Export Facilitation
  • Tourism Promotion
  • Skilled Migrant attraction
  • Innovation and technology Exchange

Social Benefits


  • Language Promotion
  • Increased Community Integration
  • Improved Flows of Information
  • Exchanges
  • Cultural Preservation
  • Promoting multiculturalism
  • Overseas experiences for young people

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Section 4

Collaboration, the Key to Success

Compared to most other countries New Zealand lacks scale, however our products and services are held in high regard.

Large companies such as Fonterra are well positioned to market their products on the global stage. For smaller companies however, international marketing efforts are more successful when performed in collaboration with other like-minded businesses.

By working collaboratively, Waikato stakeholders will make successful inroads into Guangdong.

This section discusses the various opportunities for the Waikato.

Regional – Provincial Relationship


Establish an overarching Regional – Provincial relationship between the Waikato Region and Guangdong Province which enables economic, cultural, and educational outcomes


  • A desire from Guangdong for increased local government diplomacy
  • More opportunities for businesses in a larger prosperous market
  • A wider variety of premium Waikato services and products for Chinese consumers to purchase
  • Access to Guangdong Province would open up funding opportunities; offer privileged access to overseas markets for Waikato's businesses; and raises the stature of the international relationship

Case Study

A working model of a New Zealand regional – provincial relationship is between the Eastern Bay of Plenty districts of Whakatane, Opotiki and Kawerau and Jiangxi Province. The relationship was formalised in 2019 and is actively managed by Eastern Bridge Limited.


As of 2016, Australia, the United States and Canada are the largest sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into New Zealand, however China is becoming increasingly important.

Chinese investment in New Zealand is focused in primary food production (26%); property development, hotels and land development (25%); forestry, horticulture (24%); services and utilities (11%); food and beverage manufacturing (excluding meat and dairy) (6%); and general manufacturing (non-food, the remaining 8%).

According to an Asia New Zealand report, in 2018 Auckland and Waikato region comprised 22% of the New Zealand Foreign Direct Investment from Asia. When looking at FDI from Mainland China and Hong Kong the Waikato has also done well, receiving 13% of FDI.

According to a survey conducted by Eastern Bridge, New Zealand is considered a safe destination for investment. Including immigration to New Zealand through the investment visa category, New Zealand presents an attractive investment option. However, several concerns were raised, the number one hurdle to attracting investment into the regions is a lack of preparedness. Incoming Asian investors are often unable to identify investment opportunities because:

  • They struggle to obtain accurate information relating to the size of an investment
  • It is difficult to access information regarding indicative costs of running the business
  • Investors find it challenging to estimate return on investments
  • They feel confused by the regulatory framework of the Resource Management Act and various council codes

Due to the issues outlined above, Eastern Bridge is aware that there are many cases of potential investment bouncing out of New Zealand.


To develop and maintain a database of investment-ready opportunities within the Region which attracts investment


  • To identify areas for investment within Waikato
  • To develop investment cases which can be promoted to potential investors I.E.
  • Value added processing
  • Food & Beverage Production
  • Infrastructure
  • Tourism
  • Utilise Immigration New Zealand’s Investor categories to attract investors into small and medium sized businesses
  • Value added processing Food + Beverage production infrastructure tourism


The New Zealand economy relies heavily on trade. According to Statistics New Zealand data in 2017, two-way trade was worth over $110 billion, of which $53.7 billion was exports. East Asia is an important trading market for New Zealand with China being New Zealand’s largest trading partner.

China | NZ’s 1st largest Export Market | Export value: $12 billion

Japan | NZ’s 4th largest Export Market | Export value: $3.14 billion

South Korea | NZ’s 5th largest Export Market | Export value: $2.3 billion

New Zealand has a strong reputation in Asia for producing high quality food and beverage products, of these the most highly sought after are: milk powder, manuka honey and wine. There is an opportunity for more small food and beverage companies to increase their capability and begin exporting to East Asia.

In the fresh fruit and vegetable sector New Zealand has a strong advantage due to our seasonal difference with the northern hemisphere. New Zealand has been especially successful in South Korea with Kiwifruit where it holds a 70% market share and butter-squash (a 90% market share).

Waikato’s chief exports to Asia are; dairy products, meat, logs, fruit and seafood. There is strong potential growth for Waikato to become a leader in agri-tech, which will be in high demand in our key Asian markets. Recent investment into transport and logistics infrastructure including Port of Auckland’s, Waikato Freight Hub and Tainui Group Holdings’ inland port at Ruakura, will allow the freer flow of products around the region, making the Waikato a very competitive exporter.

Waikato does have some challenges. Boutique and niche food and beverage producers could have strong demand from Asian consumers, but struggle to get a market presence. While there are numerous capacity building workshops for exporters offered in the region, few go beyond identifying a general opportunity or provide meaningful advice. Many producers are concerned about exporting to the large Asian market, however with the right support, producers can be successful.


To increase export quality, value-added production and processing within the Region which creates employment opportunities and improves the quality of life for Waikato’s work force


  • Increased awareness of export opportunities
  • Provide training for businesses to be ‘Asia Ready, Export Ready’ and understanding of what Asian consumers want
  • Encourage local businesses to collaborate over entry into an overseas market
  • Develop a catalogue of products which are export ready
  • Promote the Region’s products overseas and to work with sister-province partners
  • Facilitate a regional presence in appropriate international trade fairs
  • To connect with overseas importers, distributors or retailers on behalf of local producers
  • Attract new businesses and investment into value-added processing and manufacturing with export potential

Export Education

Prior to 2020, Export Education was New Zealand’s 4th largest export with a value of over $5.1 billion and created approximately 50,000 jobs. International students bring substantial economic benefit to their host communities, paying fees to their host school, paying for homestay or rented accommodation as well as spending locally. International students also contribute to New Zealand’s domestic tourism market. Aside from their short-term economic contribution, international students bring in new ideas and assist with the diversification of our communities. Many students who study in New Zealand return to their home countries, becoming ambassadors for the New Zealand brand and contributing to an international pool of talent from which New Zealand Inc. can draw.

China, India, Korea and Japan make up our top four international student markets, with Korean students being the highest spenders per student in 2018.

China | Ranked 1st | Number of students: 39,000 | Economic Value: $1,920 million

Japan | Ranked 3rd | Number of students: 1,100 | Economic Value: $340 million

Korea | Ranked 4th | Number of students: 7,300 | Economic Value: $300 million

Thailand | Ranked 5th | Number of students: 3,720 | Economic Value: $120 million

Vietnam | Ranked 7th | Number of students: 2,410 | Economic Value: $90 million


To promote the Waikato as New Zealand’s premium destination for international education


  • Identify and work with capable and supportive overseas student recruitment agencies who have a thorough knowledge of the Region
  • Increase International Student numbers
  • Increase ethnic diversity in local schools
  • Increase employment opportunities in the export education market
  • Address the Region’s skill shortages
  • Attend appropriate offshore international student recruitment fairs as a region
  • Encourage education providers to develop short term study tours for students
  • For schools to promote Asian language and culture within their schools
  • To attract investment into services and hospitality businesses such as supermarkets and dormitory accommodation suitable for Asian students
  • To support graduating students to pathway into skilled employment (they bring new skills and contacts with them)

Case study

In 2019 a cluster of Hawke’s Bay schools agreed to work collaboratively with Eastern Bridge. An international student recruitment, enrolment and management system was developed to assist the schools in attracting and enrolling international students. In mid-2019 the system was trialled with a group of 40 international students from China. The system managed to process of the student - allocating them a school, handling their application and enrolment documentation and preparing required documentation for visas. The system was used in late 2019 and early 2020 to successfully recruit 400 students. This system has since been integrated with the Hongi Information Portal and is available to Waikato schools.

Regional Promotion Centre

There are a number of forward thinking cities who have established promotional offices in their Asian sister cities. London, New York, Nottingham and the Eastern Bay of Plenty are four examples. These offices provide their business communities with a safe beach head to enter the Chinese market. A Waikato Regional Promotional Centre would provide a significant access point for the promotion of Waikato’s economy and culture.

The Guangdong Province in China has signaled a desire to work with Waikato Regional Council to create such a centre.


To establish a regional centre which will be used to promote the relationship as well as encourage greater economic, cultural and educational exchanges


  • To launch a Waikato Regional Centre with Guangdong
  • Create a centre to promote Waikato and a destination for investment, export education and tourism
  • To use the centre as a landing pad for visiting delegations from Waikato
  • Establish a beachhead for Waikato businesses who wish to gain access to the Chinese market and/or source Chinese products
  • A space for Councils and businesses to hold investment attraction events
  • To support Waikato students who choose to study or live in the province
  • A shared environment to display the cultural activities of Waikato and Guangdong
  • Identify scholarships and work experience opportunities

Hongi Information Portal

Communication is critical in raising awareness of the Region. It is important that participating organisations work collaboratively to develop a ‘Waikato narrative’ when promoting the Region. Few organisations in the Waikato have embraced a multi-lingual approach, even promotional organisations tasked with marketing to international audiences only have partial translations – insufficient to fulfil the needs of the user.

A common misconception is that migrant communities in New Zealand speak English. While highly inaccurate, for those who do speak English, accessing information in their native language is more comfortable and decreases the risk of misunderstanding. Language is a major barrier for Asian migrants to integrate into New Zealand communities. Those who are not native speakersoften feel isolated or excluded from the community.

The Covid19 lock-down in March – May 2020 highlighted how vulnerable this community is as many were unaware of the rules or their rights.

The reality is few people in Asia know very much about New Zealand. As an international marketing tool, a language portal can raise New Zealand’s profile. Participating regions and communities can showcase their unique attributes. In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade the main attributes associated with New Zealand are: natural environment, free-country, rugby, milk, honey and kiwi fruit, there is more to New Zealand which we should be promoting.

Non-local government stakeholders in the relationship should also be able to participate in building the Waikato narrative.

Such an information portal can enable a range of opportunities to showcase towns and regions, provide positive news stories, sell local products (both domestically and internationally), attract international students and tourists; and provide information needed for business people to make decisions about relocating or investing.

The portal can also support community cohesiveness by providing a platform for incoming migrants and locals to engage and communicate. The platform is also for councils to communicate important messages or promote community events.

A Waikato Information portal is already under development with uptake from several local authorities. For the portal to be a success it will need continued support from the region.


To create a single trusted source for migrants to access information about the Waikato


  • To grow Waikato’s economy through increased trade, international education, tourism and inward investment
  • To support Waikato to become New Zealand’s most welcoming region for Asian migrants and visitors
  • Promote a positive impression of Waikato through positive news and engaging content
  • Support local businesses to increase their domestic sales and exports through the e-store
  • To assist international students already in the region by providing high quality information about the communities where they live
  • To attract new international students into local schools, technical institutes and the University of Waikato
  • Provide local businesses with a low cost means to increase their online presence in multiple languages
  • Encourage more visitors to the region, both domestic and international
  • To assist non-English speaking residents to access information about community events and public services
  • Attract new business and investment by showcasing Waikato’s business opportunities and economic advantages


Delegations should serve to deepen international relationships and expand links between the people of Waikato and Guangdong. They are most successful when councils lead inclusive delegations as these facilitate opportunities for the Waikato’s businesses, schools and other community organisations.

To enhance the relationship towards successful outcomes and maximise success, ideally the frequency of delegations to Guangdong should be once per year. An annual reciprocal visit can also be expected.

Delegations could be arranged during special events, such as a city anniversary, trade show or festival. The aims of the visits should be agreed between Waikato and Guangdong beforehand. Promotional events for the home region’s schools, tourism or export businesses could be held, with sport, music or kapa-haka group performances also showcased. If a local business is planning to sign a deal with a company in the region, having Council representatives attend would add credibility to the event. It would also mean their local government would become involved which would give ‘face’ to the Asian partner business. The delegation's status would be raised when led by the Waikato Region's Chair.

It is also important that delegations are celebrated, as success breeds success. If businesses learn of opportunities through participating in overseas delegations more will want to attend, further enhancing their value.


To enhance the value of business delegations which create access to international market opportunities


  • Leverage the office of Waikato Regional Council's Chair to provide confidence for local businesses on delegations
  • Use the delegations to enhance the image of the Waikato as an attractive place to invest and business
  • Include community leaders to grow their understanding and interest in Waikato’s international partnerships
  • Include students from Waikato schools to foster friendship and understanding between the regions at all ages levels
  • Where possible, participate in media events to promote the region
  • Encourage iwi involvement and assist them to identify opportunities which align with their aspirations
  • A venue to build trust and friendship between the leaders of the Waikato region
  • Liaise with the international partners to encourage the inclusion of businesses interested in investing in New Zealand or procuring Waikato products
  • Conduct business matching events as well as company visits
  • Film the event and encourage the delegation to showcase the region alongside the news of the delegation in their home country


Exchanges are a great way to build people-to-people connections between countries through sister and friendship cities. There are many forms that exchanges can take. The most common exchanges are usually run for students. Sister school relationships are popular and allow for students to connect online and to become modern day ‘pen pals’, as well providing opportunities for students to travel to each other’s schools.

Exchanges also open student’s minds to new cultures allowing them to be receptive to new ideas and aspirations. Incoming students on short-term exchanges will experience New Zealand life and educational environment. Some students choose to return as fee paying international students.

There are also exchanges for professionals. For example teachers, researchers, engineers and those in sectors where cross-pollination of ideas or a closer working relationship can be beneficial to both countries.


To promote opportunities for youth to experience and embrace foreign cultures


  • Provide information about scholarships for students who would like to study abroad
  • Promote sister-school relationships to facilitate student exchanges
  • Establish a Council funded scholarship for local students to participate in exchanges
  • Facilitate opportunities for cultural, music and sports exchanges with international counterparts
  • To have a culturally aware and tolerant community
  • To provide local youth with opportunities for study and future employment
  • For Waikato to enjoy vibrant and culturally diverse communities

Case study

In 2019 under the Eastern Bay of Plenty Sister Province relationship with Jiangxi a scholarship and exchange fund was launched. The exchange programme included two components: high school exchange – where students travel to Jiangxi for two weeks, one of which involves intensive Chinese language and culture training and a second week experiencing a Chinese high school environment. The second, an internship programme for community leaders where they travel to Jiangxi for one month undertaking two weeks of study at a university, then placed in a work environment for two weeks. The work environment should relate to their role in New Zealand, for example a local government employee will be hosted in a local government in Jiangxi.

Cultural Preservation

A large part of what makes Aotearoa New Zealand special is our unique cultural perspective. By sharing our local culture with a global audience, we raise awareness of New Zealand internationally and we also build our sense of identity and community pride.

China, which understands the importance of cultural influence for its people and economy, has been engaged in raising cultural awareness overseas for the past two decades. South Korea and Japan also invest heavily in cultural promotion. Japanese pop-culture gained a massive following globally in the 1990’s and South Korea’s K-Culture currently dominates Asia, making strong waves into Europe and the Americas.

The Waikato might not compete with the scale of cultural investment from the three Asian countries above, however there are opportunities for it to grow its influence. Many of these opportunities will be based on Maori culture since this is New Zealand’s ‘point of difference’.


To promote with pride the importance of iwi on the international stage


  • Run reciprocal local arts or photo exhibitions with our friendship / sister-cities
  • Facilitate local culture performance / Kapa Haka groups to perform internationally, while encouraging and promoting inward cultural performances
  • Encourage commercial operators to develop inward and outward tour products to leverage off the sister / friendship city relationships
  • Organise training events for local businesses focussing on ‘Asia Readiness’
  • To encourage employers to be open to hiring Asians who are resident in our community
  • To be aware of other cultures within our communities
  • To have a tolerate and welcoming community for migrants and international visitors
  • To have an Asia Ready business community

Case Study

An example of how New Zealand local councils promote culture internationally is Whakatane District under the Eastern Bay of Plenty provincial relationship with Jiangxi. Two joint TV productions were approved. A short documentary about the Bay of Plenty was filmed by Jiangxi TV in January 2020 and broadcast in June; a much larger production is underway to develop a television series centering around a group of Bay of Plenty people living in Jiangxi province.


According to Tourism New Zealand data, prior to Covid-19 international tourism was a $10 billion industry for New Zealand, with the strongest growth in numbers and expenditure driven by Asian countries, in particular Japan (up 23 percent) and Korea (up 90 percent) in 2017. While the Covid-19 pandemic has halted almost all international tourism for 2021, there is predicted to be a slow recovery with the industry rebounding in 2022 – 2023. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment predicts Asia will become the leading source of international travellers led by China. There is also strong growth predicted from South Korea and Japan.

It is important that New Zealand and Waikato stays front of mind for the Asian market when the borders do reopen. Whist reducing marketing spend in Asia, maintaining a presence is extremely important. The Information Portal can provide low cost options for Waikato’s tourism industry.

China | Tourism Visitors: 436,256 | 2nd largest market | Spend: $1.46 billion

Japan | Tourism Visitors: 102,480 | 5th largest market | Spend: $271 million

Korea | Tourism Visitors: 92,384 | 6th largest market | Spend: $230 million


To increase high value visitor spend from Asian markets


  • Invest in development language and culturally appropriate marketing material
  • Provide training to businesses to become ‘Asia Ready’
  • Support businesses to improve their image with the Asian public
  • Invite influencers to visit and blog about their experiences within the Region
  • Attract Asia based media organisations to introduce the Region to their readers
  • Engage with Asian based travel agencies to develop tourism products which include the Region
  • To attract investment into Asian orientated tourism and hospitality infrastructure

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Section 5

Benefits of using Eastern Bridge

The Waikato International Relations programme would be managed Eastern Bridge

Eastern Bridge will be responsible for the delivery of the strategy and the actions identified by Waikato Regional Council. Eastern Bridge brings together a wide range of skills and knowledge including areas of translation and communication, ICT and software development, education, investment, tourism, trade and marketing.

Time input from the councils will be minimal. Each council would only need to provide a contact person. Mayors and officials will be requested to provide feedback on the strategy, and on occasion attend official events or participate in a delegation.

Company History

Founded in 2014, Eastern Bridge Limited is an International Relations Management and Marketing Company specialising in connecting New Zealand Councils and other Council aligned organisations, businesses and education providers with East Asia.

In 2018, Eastern Bridge conducted its first annual New Zealand migrant survey. Each survey took a sample of 2000 respondents evenly across the 16 regions and 3 sub regions. The survey asked Chinese, Japanese and Korean speaking migrants, visitors and international students a range of questions about their impressions of their host communities. This allowed Eastern Bridge to gain an understanding on how well communities performed in supporting their minority populations. Data collected from these surveys has been used to develop Eastern Bridge’s services ensuring the company maintains it leadership position.

Eastern Bridge is currently developing a range of online tools and systems to support clients engage and do business with Asian partners. In April 2019 Eastern Bridge launched the Hawke’s Bay section of “Hongi,” a foreign language portal. “Hongi” is a large web and app based resource providing news and essential information to non-English speaking visitors, international students, business people and migrants. Once complete the portal will provide information about each region of New Zealand. The portal has inbuilt tools to support international student enrolment and management, travel planning and an e-store.

Our Team

The Waikato - Guangdong Provincial Relationship is supported by a team of professionals with a range of skills, knowledge and relationships. The key people responsible for progressing the relationship are:

Simon Appleton | Simon is the owner of Eastern Bridge and the key conduit between the Waikato and Guangdong. Simon holds a Masters in Chinese Law from Renmin University, and has 10 years experience working and studying in China and South Korea. Simon speaks Mandarin Chinese and Korean. Simon has experience working in local governments in New Zealand and Korea and is a passionate proponent of international relations and economic development.

David Fielden | David has many years of experience working in the economic and business development space with Western and Asian companies. David has three qualifications included a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Waikato and is a Business Mentor with Business Mentors New Zealand. David will manage the delivery of the strategy in the Waikato.

Peter Guy | Based in our Guangdong office, Peter is the General Manager of Eastern Bridge Asia. Peter's background is in marketing and sales, having worked with major companies including Jaguar. Since moving to China in 2010, Peter has focused on the education sector. He has assisted in the establishment of two international schools and consulted for numerous western education institutions, including Cobham Hall and Eton College.

Samantha Li | With a background in finance, Samantha's is an important member of our Guangdong based team. Samantha has worked with many large Chinese firms as they prepare to invest offshore.

Lulu | Lulu is an Influencer based in China. She has a direct following of over 7 million and an indirect 70 million people. Much of Lulu's audience are affluent millennials who are eager to buy New Zealand products, immigrate, travel, or send their children overseas for study,

Ada Wang | Ada is Eastern Bridge's legal counsel in Guangdong. Her company is a boutique law firm representing many western multi-nationals in China and Chinese firms exploring international markets.

Cecilia He | Cecilia has been involved in import and export for over 15 years. As an English Major she is highly proficient in English and has a strong understanding of New Zealand culture and our way of doing business.

Investing in Waikato

The Investment

Eastern Bridge is seeking $330,000+gst per year for three years to establish and manage this project.

In return for the investment, stakeholders will gain an experienced team delivering the outcomes identified above. 

A complete strategy and action plan is available upon request. 

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Learn about

Guangdong Profile

Guangdong + Hong Kong + Macau

The Greater Bay Area

The Guangdong Greater Bay Area comprises the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and nine municipalities. With the support from all levels of government, the area is a key project of national significance. The total area is approximately 56,000 square kilometres, with a population of 71 million people and an estimated economy $2.45 trillion New Zealand dollars



Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, is recognised as the southern gate to mainland China. It is an important political, economic, industrial, and cultural centre in the South China region.

As the origin of the ancient Chinese Maritime Silk Road, it was the oldest foreign trading port in mainland China and the only one that has never been closed.

Now, as one of the prominent cities in the Greater Bay Area plan and a key location on the Belt and Road Initiative, Guangzhou is growing into a global transport hub, trade centre, and a science and technology innovation centre.

Population | 14.9M

GDP | 498.82 NZD Billion

Imports | 97.54 NZD Billion


Often dubbed China’s “Silicon Valley,” Shenzhen is China’s fastest-growing city. It is ranked by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as the mainland’s top city for “overall economic competitiveness” and is China’s premier Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for foreign investment.

Shenzhen has one of world’s largest container ports and China’s fourth largest airport for cargo. Shenzhen’s exports accounted for 38 percent of all of Guangdong’s exports and 10 percent of China’s total exports.

Shenzhen trails only Shanghai and Beijing in China for overall GDP, ranking third at RMB 2,422 billion (NZ$528.5 billion) per year, its growth having eclipsed Hong Kong in 2018. Shenzhen also home to one of the world’s top ten stock exchanges.

Population | 13.4 M

GDP | $528.50 NZD Billion

Imports | $317 NZD Billion



One of the mainland’s fastest-growing cities in terms of overall economic growth is Dongguan.

The city has created a comprehensive manufacturing system covering more than 60,000 types of products across 30 industries. One in every five smartphones in the world is produced in Dongguan. Its major industries include IT, electronics, clothing, toys, and furniture manufacturing.

As an intermediary between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, one of its primary tasks will be expanding as a transportation hub for the region. Extensive plans are already in place to upgrade the city’s highways, metro system, and high-speed rail connectivity.

Commercially, Dongguan is tasked by the 13th Five Year Plan to develop its financial insurance, e-commerce, and technology services. It has plans to jointly establish a comprehensive national science centre with Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Population | 8.4M

GDP | $180.67 NZBC Billion

Imports | $126.49 NZD Billio


Foshan is another major connection point in the GBA master plan. Its logistics and transportation networks are already heavily integrated with Guangzhou. A subway line currently connects the two cities.

Industrially, Foshan mostly focuses on electronic appliance manufacturing. The city has additionally become the headquarters for several well-known car manufacturers.

Foshan plans to leverage its high level of development and connectivity to become

a “home town for young people” in the region.

Population | 8M

GDP | $216.90 NZD Billion

Imports | $24.69 NZD Billion



Known as the “Eastern Gate of Guangdong,” Huizhou is well-known for its scenic environment and abundant natural resources.

Huizhou’s two major industries are petrochemicals and electronic information. These currently boast production values of up to RMB 1 trillion (US$140 billion). Huizhou’s Daya Bay Petrochemical Zone ranks first in the country in terms of scale of petrochemical-refining integration. Huizhou’s Zhongkai High-Tech Industrial Development Zone is an important national base for the electronic information industry.

Due to its location and current connectivity, Huizhou will likely continue to expand its connection with China’s east coast as well as neighbouring countries like Korea. Already the city is working on constructing a large central airport capable of 10 million passengers per year.

Population | 4.9M

GDP | $90 NZD Billion

Imports | $26 NZD Billion


With eight expressways connecting it to other cities, Jiangmen has been integrated into the “1-hour economic circle” of the Greater Pearl River Delta. It has two class- one cargo ports – Xinhui and Taishan Guanghai.

Jingmen has developed an advanced industry for motorcycles and auto parts manufacturing, textiles and garments, paper-making, shipbuilding, food, packaging materials, bathroom accessories and sanitary hardware, printing, and electromechanics.

It is also a key source for agricultural products and by-products for the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong, and Macau and the first agricultural cooperation pilot zone with Taiwan in the Guangdong province.

Jiangmen has been rapidly developing its new energy, new lighting, new materials, high-end equipment manufacturing, and green household appliances industries.

Population | 5M

GDP | $64 NZD Billion

Imports | $8.5 NZD Billion



Called the “Home of Gold” due to its numerous gold mines, Zhaoqing has very well-developed transportation networks. It has one of the most important inland ports in China, the Zhaoqing New Port.

Zhaoqing has an expansive mining and tourism industry. As well as gold, sectors for mining include limestone, gypsum, granite, porcelain, ink-stone, mineral water, and geothermal water.

Zhaoqing will continue focus on linking the region to China’s south west. Investment

into the city is focused on its tourism sector, education and urban development.

Population | 5.5M

GDP | $55 NZD Billion

Imports | $5 NZD Billion


As a key transportation node on the Pearl River Delta, Zhongshan serves as the base for many large-scale industrial projects started by state owned enterprises, including the State Shipbuilding Corporation, China Railway Group, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Zhongshan was specifically singled out in the Greater Bay Area masterplan to become the regional transportation hub for the west side of the bay. Zhongshan will be connected to the other 11 cities in the region through a railway network.

Population | 3.3M

GDP | $80 NZD Billion

Imports | $12.6 NZD Billion



Six major industries in Zhuhai are electronic information, home appliances, energy, bio-pharmaceuticals and medical devices, petrochemicals, and precision machinery. Its special industries are printing supplies and yacht manufacturing.

Zhuhai is considered a very well-developed city with a “first-class living environment”. It works with close neighbour, Macau to expand its industry and workforce. Significant effort is currently being put towards Zhuhai’s ecological conservation and coastal tourism industry, which will expand to accommodate Macau’s increased role as a regional leisure centre.

Population | 2M

GDP | $64 NZD Billion

Imports | $33 NZD Billion


In 2019, Macau’s GDP was 434.7 billion (NZ$118.7 billion). Since its establishment as a special administrative region, Macau enjoys strong economic growth with its casinos attracting wealthy VIP gamblers to the city. Due to its open economic policy, Macau’s tax rate is one of the lowest in the region. The city enjoys unlimited foreign exchange and claims its own customs territory.

Macau’s responsibilities as part of the GBA include promoting business cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries and its image as a multicultural Chinese city to the world. It has created a Macau Young Entrepreneur Incubation Center to aid its young workforce in taking advantage of new favourable hiring policies for young locals in the GBA. Macau will also continue working on expanding its tourism and gambling industries in its role as the leisure centre of the GBA.

Population | 0.8M

GDP | $120 NZD Billion

Imports | $17 NZD Billion