The nationalist New Zealand First Party fought the 1996 general election on an anti-immigration and very thinly veiled 'anti-Asian' platform , winning the balance of power and altering immigration policy towards skills-based immigration. From the late 1990s to the 2000s, skilled migrants from Mainland China became the new significant demographic group of Chinese immigrants.
Mainland Chinese in New Zealand also include a substantial population of international students completing tertiary qualifications. These students, viewed by some as temporary residents, are often socially isolated from both mainstream and Chinese New Zealander society. There has been media reports of these groups facing victimisation from within their own communities  as well as from the population as a whole, and as being involved in Asian crime syndicates. Similarly, 1.5 generation Hong Kong migrant youths who engaged in low-level criminal activity in the 1990s, were also mistakenly considered to be professional 'Triads' by much of the non-Chinese public at that time. 
However, despite much speculation, the political and administrative status of Chinese international students as non-residents has hampered the undertaking of verifiable research about their health, societal wellbeing or their actual level of involvement in crime.
As of the most recent census, the majority of the overseas-born Chinese were under 25 years of age, and 12% had lived in New Zealand for less than one year. The median age of the Chinese ethnic group in New Zealand is younger than the national average.
According to the 2001 Census, New Zealand-born Chinese had a higher median income (NZ$20,200) than other New Zealanders (NZ$18,500), but overseas-born Chinese New Zealanders had a median income less than half of the national median (NZ$7,900).
According to the 2006 Social Report (New Zealand Ministry of Social Development), based on the 2005 Household Labour Force Survey, the 'Asian and other' category displayed the second-highest level of unemployment after New Zealand's indigenous people (the Māori) and the highest level of underemployment. Possibly reflecting the asset-rich status of migrants as well as their barriers to employment, the 'Asian and other' category was simultaneously one of the most income-poor ethnic categories in the country while also being the ethnic category with the highest access to the internet. (Note: At this time, the 'Other' ethnic groups (Middle Eastern, African and Latin American) comprised less than 1% of the population, and the 'Asian' groups approximately 9%.)
- Pansy Wong, New Zealand's first ethnic Chinese MP and first Asian MP, 1970s Generation Hong Kong migrant New Zealander of Shanghai heritage
- Peter Chin, Mayor of Dunedin, 'Old Generation' Cantonese New Zealander
- Meng Foon, Mayor of Gisborne , 'Old Generation' Cantonese New Zealander
- Bic Runga, singer/songwriter, of Māori (indigenous New Zealander) and Chinese Malaysian parentage.
- Chang, presenter with The Edge radio station. 
- Li Ming Hu, known for her role as Li Mei Chen in New Zealand's popular TV show, Shortland Street, second-generation New Zealander of Singaporean and Taiwanese parentage.
- Raybon Kan, comedian, second-generation New Zealander of Mainland Chinese parentage.
- Li Chunli, gold medal-winning table tennis champion, 1980s generation migrant New Zealander and Mainland Chinese. http://www.olympic.org.nz/Athletes/AthleteProfile.aspx?print=&id=0&mode=bio&ContactID=492
- Mai Chen, prominent constitutional lawyer, Chair of the short-lived Pan Asian Congress of 2002, 1970s generation and 1.5 generation Taiwanese migrant New Zealander
- Derek Cheng, reporter for the New Zealand Herald, second generation New Zealander of Hong Kong Chinese parentage.
- Manying Ip, Associate-Professor of the Auckland University School of Asian Studies, community spokesperson during the 'Asian Invasion' 1990s, and author and editor of numerous seminal texts on Chinese people in New Zealand. 1970s 1st Generation Hong Kong migrant New Zealander. 
- Errol Kiong, reporter for Radio New Zealand and the New Zealand Herald, first generation migrant New Zealander and Malaysian Chinese.
- Tze Ming Mok, cultural commentator, blogger and literary writer; second generation New Zealander of Chinese Singaporean and Malaysian parentage. Leader of a march against white supremacists in Wellington 2004. Editor of the May 2006 issue of Landfall, a New Zealand literary journal .
- Lincoln Tan, journalist and columnist; first generation migrant New Zealander and Peranakan Singaporean. Leader of a march against white supremacists in Christchurch 2004. 
- Alison Wong, poet
- Gilbert Wong, New Zealand's most senior Chinese journalist, for many years New Zealand's only prominent Chinese journalist, Old Generation Cantonese.
- Steven Young, key figure and leader in the Old Generation Chinese community associations, specifically the Wellington Chinese Association. Known for bucking the 'model minority' impulses of the Old Generation community in the 1990s by speaking out against the New Zealand First Party, for which he was expelled from the Wellington Chinese Association, only to return as its President in later years. Web-archiver of numerous resources on the Old Generation communities. 
- Jack Yan, graphic designer and publisher of fashion magazine Lucire, 1.5 generation Hong Kong migrant New Zealander.