Melissa Lee spent 15 years working on Asia Downunder. When it began in 1994, originally under the title Asia Dynamic, it was the country's only television programme about New Zealanders of Asian origin. The weekly show covered a range of stories from arts and culture to business.
Lee's on-screen presence saw her become the face Asia Downunder; she was a presenter and reporter for eight years, then produced from 2004 until 2008. Lee co-owned production company Asia Vision with business partner Robin Kingsley-Smith, which produced the show until 2011.
Born in Korea, Lee spent time living in Malaysia and Australia before her family moved to New Zealand in 1988. Lee got First Class Honours in Communication Studies, and spent five years as a journalist with The Sunday News, before joining TVNZ as a reporter in 1994. She has been vocal regarding the under-representation of Asian New Zealanders in New Zealand journalism.
Lee was elected to parliament as a list MP in the 2008 election.The following year she was nominated to be National Party candidate in a by-election held in the Mt Albert seat formerly held by Helen Clark. She was beaten by Labour candidate David Shearer.
In her maiden speech to parliament in 2008, Lee spoke of the importance of supporting local programming. In 2018 a bill she drafted went before parliament. The bill would require broadcasting funding agencies NZ on Air and Te Māngai Pāho to release more data on viewing and ratings figures for publicaly funded television and radio.
Lee has spent time as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Communities. As of 2020. she was Opposition Spokesperson for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, and Ethnic Communities.
Lee has been Vice President of both the Korean Society and the Korean Women's Association, and spent time as World President of the Overseas Korean Foundation's Future Leaders Group. Sh also project managed the inaugural Korean Film Festival in Auckland in 2004.
Profile updated on 23 January 2020
Melissa Lee website. Accessed 23 January 2020
'Melissa Lee' New Zealand Parliament website. Accessed 23 January 2020
Annie Murray, 'Background on Asia Down Under' NZ On Screen website. Accessed 23 January 2020
Colin Peacock, 'National's Melissa Lee puts political pressure on publicly-funded TV with new bill' Radio New Zealand website. Loaded 2 August 2018. Accessed 23 January 2020