To New Zealand, Asia looms like a trade immensity: six of the country's 10 largest markets are in the region. The old notion that New Zealand was an isolated farm in the southern Pacific Ocean whose role was to provide inexpensive food for Britain, died more than a generation ago. New Zealand Consul-General James Kember points out that the nation's destiny is now linked with Asia, not just through trade but through organisations such as New Zealand's Asia 2000 Foundation. The foundation promotes two-way understanding, taking economists, businessmen, journalists, academics and others from Asia to New Zealand and urging New Zealanders to see the world. A major new thrust of those developing relations is across the Pacific towards Latin America, but Asian connections remain first priority. From October 1 last year, visiting New Zealand was made easier for Hong Kong travellers when visa-free entry began. Two- way tourism is brisk, although dented by the economic uncertainties of the past 21 months. In Auckland and Hong Kong, there are business, academic and other organisations formed to foster the long and cordial relations between the two places. In New Zealand, more than five per cent of the population is now of Asian descent, a figure set to almost double by early next century as migration continues. Mr Kember is keen to encourage further business migration but emphasises that candidates must have something to offer the host country in terms of job creation or trade. 'Migration is just part of a broader picture if New Zealand is to grow and develop as part of the global village,' he said. His country went through its own bout of anti-Asian hysteria when politicians felt too many new faces were coming too fast and taking too many economic opportunities. That seems to have passed. The presence of the All Blacks at the Hong Kong rugby sevens every year may be one of the most visible links with New Zealand, but Mr Kember holds that family ties over many generations are a much more lasting legacy. From a foreign affairs point of view, he reports to his home government regularly on the stability of the Hong Kong economy which is New Zealand's sixth largest market. 'The most important part of my job is to keep a close eye on what is happening,' he said. 'Hong Kong is past the handover, now we are into the question of political stability and vitality. New Zealand is a friend.' In 1978, Mr Kember received his first posting as a second secretary at the High Commission in Hong Kong. He had also to study full-time at the Putonghua language school at the Chinese University. That was a basis for his transfer to Beijing in 1980. He was in the capital at a critical time for China and for its relations with the world. Hua Guofeng fell from power and Deng Xiaoping opened the doors of trade and liberalisation. Through later career moves that took him to the Foreign Service headquarters in Wellington, and such postings as Noumea and Rarotonga in the South Pacific and to the United Nations in New York, the Kembers kept in close touch with the friends they had made in Hong Kong. Mr Kember says there are about 3,000 New Zealanders in Hong Kong. However, many more, especially Hong Kong people who have settled in New Zealand, have been granted citizenship and passports before returning to Hong Kong on their local ID cards. 'What's important is their affinity both to Hong Kong and New Zealand,' he said.