Friday, November 20, 2015

- The 'rationale' for the Poll Tax at the time

Hi everybody, My name is Kristen, I run the NZ-China arts/culture blog, which focuses on topics from cultural identity, alternate histories, to independent music and art. I am planning to write a piece about the abolition of the Poll Tax and the impacts today, hopefully providing a fresh, modern take on an old, sad tale. For this piece, the key areas I am interested in are as follows. - The 'rationale' for the Poll Tax at the time? A white NZ stemming from the original colonial dreams of a "Britain in the south," and how those same values are still perpetuated today vis a vis the "Chinese are depriving hard working Kiwis of their dream homes" debacle (see: for a piece I wrote earlier this year). - Why was it abolished? Was there some political/economic incentive at the time to allow more migrants after the war? - Maori views on the Poll Tax, considering the enormous hypocrisy of a colonising empire that subjugated the indigenous people of the land, then complaining of a so called 'invasion' by the Chinese. - Personal family stories. The abolition of legislation did not automatically lead to acceptance of Chinese, much like the end of apartheid in South Africa did not end racism. Primary sources of people who experienced NZ before and after the Poll Tax. - The Helen Clark apology in 2002, the reaction, the implications of it today. How it fits into a greater string of apologies for NZ's cruel colonial practices against Chinese people, Maori, Samoa, the Pacific... Why have Canada and Australia not apologised for similar taxes? - The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust - the goals, the future. - Education. I know there are members of the community who are working to see Poll Tax history incorporated into the national curriculum. I would like to hear from them about this. The way NZ teaches history needs to change - it impacts the way mainstream NZ views itself, it's values, who belongs and who does not. Unfortunately the Poll Tax is only one grey area of history to be excluded from the curriculum. History needs to be taught, no matter how unflattering it is! The history will inform the future! WANTED: Digital resources! - I am looking for are the commissioned reports into the Poll Tax by Nigel Murphy in the mid-90s. I am in Chengdu and cannot get down to the archives to look at the hard copy. Anyone got a digital copy? - If there are related excerpts of Turning Stone Into Jade? Windows on a Chinese Past? - Any academic essays, research papers or articles related to these matters. Ideally I would like to publish the article for 15 December, to mark the date of the abolition, however if research and interviews are not completed by then, I could publish next year to mark the date of the apology in 2002. If you have any comments to contribute, or even just to discuss these ideas further, I'd love to hear from you here, or at I would like to speak with those knowledgable in these areas, people involved with the apology and process, Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust, NZCA, NZ historians, as well as other PT descendants that were not necessarily involved in the apology. Thanks all Kristen

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Twelve Questions: Norman Ng

Twelve Questions: Norman Ng 5:00 AM Thursday Oct 9, 2014 ... Twelve Questions with Sarah Stuart Norman Ng, 82, was a child in the first wave of refugees allowed into New Zealand as Japan invaded China. Seventy-five years later, he is a successful businessman who still goes to the markets each morning. Norman Ng says although he grew up as a Kiwi, his father was strict in ensuring that he stayed true to his Chinese roots. Picture / Dean Purcell 1. You own the skinniest building in K Rd: how did your name end up there? I opened my first fruit and vege shop in 1960 in this building. I worked hard to save every penny and eventually bought it in 1967. This was my first business venture on my own and very sentimental to me. I wanted to share the pride of my success and have my name on it. 2. What do you remember of arriving in New Zealand? It took us six months to get here. I can remember running away from the village through the rice paddies on my bicycle as aeroplanes were flying over us and there were bullets hitting the ground. We had to walk to Hong Kong which took a very long time and we stayed there for a month while my father organised and paid for our passage. He had come to New Zealand in 1919 and saved all his money so we could come too. The ship was a cargo ship that stopped in Papua New Guinea and Darwin and we slept under the decks in dormitories. I remember when we got to Auckland, Queens Wharf, and my father was there. 3.What did your father do? He was a hawker, selling fruit and vegetables to the boarding houses, going door to door. When he started he had a bamboo stick with baskets on the end. We were extremely poor and I distinctly remember shifting around a few times within the first year. Our first place was a small room on Nelson St shared between my mother, father and two older sisters. A few months later we moved to a small house on Cook St and eventually we settled in an upstairs flat above the fruit and vege shop we rented on 244 Hobson St. We didn't have hot water, a bath and our toilet was separate from the property, about 20m down our backyard with no lighting. 4. How hard was life for your parents? As you could imagine, life as a foreigner in any new country is hard enough at the best of times. My mother died in 1941 just two years after arriving in New Zealand. Our father spoke very little English. I remember going to the hospital and how sad we were [when she died]. I missed her so much. When you think of it now you could cry. 5. Did you feel Chinese or Kiwi growing up? There were very few Chinese to connect with back in those days. I started school in Primer One and grew up as a Kiwi but my father was strict in ensuring that I stayed true to my roots and forced me to read and write Chinese every day. He thought we might have to go back to China as we were only temporary residents. But luckily after the war we were granted permanent residency. We were so happy then. 6. Did you experience any racist behaviour? I was picked on a lot during school. The other kids would often call me "Ching Chong" or "Chink". After two decades, more of the Chinese community became educated and forged successful careers in their chosen professions and we became more accepted as Kiwis. Oh, you couldn't get any Chinese food here when I was young. I think there was one restaurant but that was to feed the American soldiers. We made our own soy sauce out of Bovril mixed with water and salt. 7. What did your parents teach you? My father was a hard, strict man with a great emphasis on discipline. He ingrained a hard work ethic into our lives because we had come from a poor background and he made great sacrifices to get our family away from that environment. He taught us to work hard and save everything. We were only allowed to eat ripe fruit that was about to go off to minimise wastage at the shop. I guess we were taught to constantly save for a rainy day and never forget where we came from. I don't gamble. Don't drink. Don't smoke. There's a lot of luxury in the world but you avoid it. I'm not interested in flash cars or flash clothing. I do travel now though. In the last few years my wife and I have been all over the place. 8. What kind of father are you? I have modelled myself on my father. I have the same family values as he did for us as kids, to work hard, stay humble and secure a future for our children. 9. Has business always been a part of your life? Yes, and still is. I haven't stopped going to the produce markets just yet, although I wish they didn't start so early. 4am on cold winter months is not pleasant. I've had the same codename at the auctions - Super - since 1960. It's what they all call me. I live and breathe business though these days I leave the hard stuff to my son, Jason, and I mostly sit here and say hi to everyone. My wife's [still] working though. She works like a horse. 10. Do you think New Zealanders really understand the Chinese community? I've lived in New Zealand for 75 years and watched our generation build respect and understanding. We were in a good place but recent generations have dampened the efforts of the earlier generations by no fault of anyone. Mainly they are from northern China and they all speak Mandarin. It's a big change. I think we'll have to experience a new cycle of acceptance. 11. How has K Rd changed in your time? It was so busy and bustling. I remember 17 fruit shops on K Rd... They were mostly all Chinese. It was the "it" place for shopping with late night trading hours every Thursday night. It was one of the few places with late trading back then. 12.What do you want your legacy to be? I guess I'm a hard-working, humble man who gave everything I could to build a strong foundation for my family and for our future generations. - NZ Herald

Thursday, March 13, 2014

NZ astronomer to help pick Chinese planetarium

NZ astronomer to help pick Chinese planetarium WILMA MCCORKINDALE Last updated 18:05 13/03/2014 A Dunedin astronomer will contribute to the development of a planetarium for a science institution in China. Dr Ian Griffin, who recently took up the post of director of the Otago Museum, has been invited to sit on the panel to select the winning tender for the planetarium, which is being developed by the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (SSTM). The tender process would lead to a decision on the design plan, with further discussion on exhibition layout and interactive displays for the new planetarium, Griffin said. Griffin, a former chief executive of the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust, headed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Office of Public Outreach and was director of its Origins Education Forum based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. While at Nasa, Griffin worked on the Hubble telescope programme. Griffin said the Shanghai project was an ambitious one. "At its most basic, a planetarium is a domed room where visitors can discover the night sky," he said. "In the past few decades, planetarium design has experienced a period of renaissance and innovation. "Boasting state of the art technology, modern planetaria use extraordinarily high-resolution video to broaden the minds of visitors to the possibilities of astronomy and other areas of science." It would be constructed in Lingang New City, about 90 minutes from downtown Shanghai. Thirteen companies had tendered to build the structure, seven of which were based in China, Griffin said. "I am honoured to have been chosen to assist our colleagues at the SSTM with such an important decision, strengthening our already close ties with this excellent organisation," he said. "I have long been a believer in the inherent power of planetaria to inspire a passion for the universe around us and for lifelong learning in visitors of all ages." Griffin said the Shanghai experience could help in the possible development of a planetarium at the Otago Museum. "It should provide invaluable information with possible application at the Otago Museum," he said. Griffin will visit Shanghai from March 29 to April 7. - © Fairfax NZ News

Key: 'Nothing untoward' in citizenship waiver

Key: 'Nothing untoward' in citizenship waiver STACEY KIRK Last updated 14:51 13/03/2014 Collins knocks 'hurtful' rumours Genesis Energy offer priced low One more strike for Collins No more embarrassments, vows Collins Greens back biking to school 'Political' state servant under fire Ministry reviews new school sites New safety rules hit school funds Judith Collins comes clean about dinner Power bill transparency promised Former Labour associate immigration minister Damien O'Connor approved residency for wealthy Chinese businessman Donghua Liu against officials' advice. Liu is at the centre of fresh questions about National's links to rich donors after he was granted citizenship, against official advice, with the help of government ministers lobbying his case. A year later, the Auckland-based property developer donated $22,000 to the National Party through one of his companies. O'Connor said he had been alerted to the fact that he had given Liu residency. "I have no recollection of it – quite likely though." He said there were about 4500 cases a year and many were overriden. "Most of the advice is that they shouldn't go through, otherwise they would have been approved, so it's pretty much standard advice from immigration to say this shouldn't go ahead." That was why people sought ministerial discretion, he said. He made decisions for the right reasons – humanitarianism or good business outcomes. The same reasons may have been applied to Liu's citizenship. The question was around the timing of a payment to the National Party. O'Connor was not aware of any payment from Liu to the Labour Party and was not sure when he approved the residency applicaiton, but 2005 sounded "about right". After Liu gained citizenship, Prime Minister John Key and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson attended the official opening of the first stage of Liu's $70 million construction project. Official party donation returns show a significant donation by Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings Ltd on October 24, 2012. Company Office records show Liu to be a director of the company, along with lawyer Jeremy Goodwin, who supported Liu's bid for citizenship. It is not the first case of citizenship to be granted in return for investment in New Zealand, but it reportedly sparked Department of Internal Affairs concerns that it showed favouritism. The New Zealand Herald reported that Liu's citizenship was not supported because he had not spent enough time in New Zealand and did not have the appropriate English-language skills. One of Liu's business partners approached Williamson and John Banks, who was Auckland's mayor at the time. They wrote to then internal affairs minister Nathan Guy asking him to grant citizenship against the official advice. Guy said today that he had never met Liu and was unaware of any political donations made by him. "As minister, I decided over 800 cases and it was quite common to receive correspondence from family and supporters of applicants," he said. "In every citizenship case, I always carefully considered all of the evidence provided and advice from the Department of Internal Affairs. "In this case, I considered at the time that on balance the potential benefits to New Zealand warranted the granting of citizenship. "I've never met this individual and was unaware of any donation to any political party until today. "The individual in this case was granted permanent residency in 2005." Key said donations were recorded openly, and the media "could see shadows" if they wanted to, but there was nothing there. "We live in a democracy and people are free to give donations to political parties that they want to support," he said. "There's nothing in this particular case. This person actually received residency under a Labour government and citizenship under a National government. "I'm not responsible for donations for the National Party. I don't engage myself in that. "But the party, rightfully so, appropriately recorded that and made sure that was public. There was nothing the party was trying to hide." Key said the donation was made a long time after Liu became a citizen. "I just don't accept the proposition there's anything untoward there." Key said a minister advocating a person for citizenship was "not at all unusual". Liu was a substantial investor in New Zealand and "lots of people get ministerial waivers". "The Government, very recently, gave a whole bunch of ministerial waivers to interpreters who came from Afghanistan," he said. Key said there was no need for a law change to the rules allowing ministers to exercise discretion in citizenship cases. "There are hundreds of examples between this government and the previous government and the ones before it where there's been an override. In fact, it's a very logical thing," he said. "We have to set rules in a pretty strict place, but actually, if people come to New Zealand and want to become either a resident or citizen, they sometimes don't always perfectly fit the rules. "We have language tests at a certain level and the amount of time people spend here is also a test, but actually, there are lots of people who are granted exceptions in that area." A report from the auditor-general last year said that while it was not necessarily improper for a minister to lobby on behalf of an aspiring citizen, it did pose risks to the integrity of the system. The report was looking into a similar case where Labour MP Shane Jones, when he was associate immigration minister, granted citizenship to William Liu, a Chinese national who was under the scrutiny of Interpol, despite an active police investigation being under way and the Department of Internal Affairs telling him not to. The auditor-general found there was "nothing unlawful or improper in ministers considering representations and advocacy by or on behalf of applicants in the course of considering an application for citizenship". "However, advocacy of this kind, in particular where the advocate is a fellow MP or known to the minister, clearly presents risks to the integrity of the decision-making system and to the reputations of those involved, including the minister," he said. - © Fairfax NZ News

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Confucius Institute students work

Lantern Festival Albert Park CNY 2014

NZCA Auckland CNY 2014

Tung Jung Association Wellington

SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING (SGM) A Special General Meeting is being called on Sunday 4 May 2014 at 33 Torrens Terrace, Mt. Cook, begin- ning at 2 pm. Business to be discussed is whether the Tung Jung Association should sell the present premises and buy a smaller building or retain the present one. If you are concerned about the future of the Associa- tion, please attend this SGM to voice your concerns. If you cannot attend but would like to voice your concerns, please use a proxy or write to the Secre- tary, Tung Jung Association, P.O. Box 9058, Welling- ton, before 1st May 2014

Zengcheng City 增城市

Zengcheng City 增城市 As from 12 February 2014, the Chinese Government upgraded Zengcheng City, previously a county level city, to be- come a district under the jurisdiction of Guangzhou. Does this mean that this is another step toward the proposed su- per city of Guangzhou? All mail should be addressed as Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, China. 增城区 , 廣州市 , 中國

Proposed trip to North Queensland

Proposed trip to North Queensland At the time of publication of this newsletter, we are still waiting for the itinerary and arrangements from the travel agent for the proposed trip to be confirmed. Briefly, it is proposed to travel to Cairns, where we will meet the Cairns and Districts Chinese Association who will host us and show us around and have lunch or dinner with them. This will be a good opportunity to meet other over- seas Chinese groups and see what they do. Over a 7 day period, it is proposed to visit Atherton, Chinatown, Cookstown, sugar cane fields and pineapple planta- tions as well as seeing local sites of interest as there was a strong Chinese influence in the area which once had gold- fields The proposed trip will be in the vicinity of $2500 to $3000 and will take place after Easter in late April. If you are interested in this trip, please register your interest to Gordon Wu by email: or tele- phone 027 4875314 and we will keep you posted

Diverse Bananas, Global Dragons" International Conference

Diverse Bananas, Global Dragons" International Conference at Auckland University Business School on 30 May-1 June 2014 By popular demand after a five year hiatus, our iconic and unique conference returns to challenge perceptions of what it means to be Chinese and celebrate the journeys, stories and identities of leading local and overseas born Chinese personalities. This conference is the fifth in the Going Bananas cycle. We offer everyone a fresh way to explore and understand the impact Chinese communities make in N ew Zealand and on the global stage. A flyer is attached for your information. Please register asap for the conference to take advantage of the early bird discount by completing page 12 of this link or registering online. If you have any queries or need additional information, please contact David Wong on or the undersigned. Thanks & Best Regards Kai Luey Co-Chairman Conference Organising Committee Phone 522 1840 Mobile 021 333 125

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Test pass leaves driver uninsured

By Mathew Dearnaley 5:30 AM Tuesday Feb 25, 2014 Confusion over licensing laws prompts NZTA to consider clarifying conditions for foreign motorists. Yuanxi (Cindy) Zhang didn't realise she was not allowed to drive unsupervised until she went to make an insurance claim. Photo / Dean Purcell Driver licence application forms are being reviewed after a Chinese woman - unaware she could no longer drive unsupervised after passing a theory test - found herself uninsured in a crash. The Transport Agency says it is looking at whether changes can be made to the forms and the Road Code to ensure overseas drivers are aware of supervisor conditions on new licences issued once they pass theory tests. That follows Herald inquiries into the case of Auckland office worker Yuanxi (Cindy) Zhang, 24, who says she had no idea a pass meant she could no longer use her overseas driving licence and had to be accompanied by a supervisor until she passed a practical test. She found out only after hitting the rear of another car, and discovering her third-party insurance policy would not cover $3200 of damage to that vehicle. Ms Zhang says the crash happened in a line of stationary traffic, after her foot slipped off the brake of her automatic transmission car. She had been driving away from a licensing centre, upset at having failed a first attempt to pass her practical test. Despite the test failure, she thought she still had a week left on her 12-month overseas licence. But it was only when she passed the test on her second attempt, a fortnight later, that her right to drive unsupervised was restored. A friend, Margaret Thompson, who intervened with her insurance company, said Ms Zhang was not told she could no longer use her overseas licence after passing the theory test. She was still unaware of the condition when the testing officer for her practical session allowed her to drive off by herself, after failing her and getting out of her car. Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said overseas drivers who passed their theory tests were given full New Zealand licences, but with a "supervisor condition attached". "It's not a restricted licence - technically it's a full licence with conditions - that's where I think she got into trouble," he said. Although the agency produced printed and online material to ensure licence holders were aware of the requirements, it was the responsibility of individuals to understand and comply with those. But as a result of Ms Zhang's case, it would investigate changing driving test application forms and the Road Code to include specific information about the status of overseas documents once New Zealand licences were obtained. Testing officers were not expected to wait with applicants after tests were completed to ensure they did not drive off without a supervisor, Mr Knackstedt said. Mrs Thompson said the law should be changed so international documents remained valid until replaced by unconditional New Zealand licences. "They've gone from allowing her on an international licence to drive as a full-fledged licence holder for a year, and suddenly they don't consider her [Ms Zhang] capable of driving unsupervised." She feared there may be thousands of immigrants in Ms Zhang's situation. But Mrs Thompson said Ms Zhang's insurance company had since proved "very fair and understanding" by reaching an arrangement with her friend which she did not feel at liberty to disclose. - NZ Herald

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lantern: An illuminating play

Lantern: An illuminating play John Daly-Peoples Lantern, Light Your Way Home, by Renee Liang Pretty Asian Theatre Production Musgrove Theatre, Auckland University Until February 15 Near the end of Lantern, Renee Liang's new play, Rose gives her two children traditional small red envelopes as recompense and apology for the hurt she has caused them. The envelopes contain cheques for large sums of money. As I left the theatre I was also given one of the same red envelopes. Mine contained a short poem by Sung Dynasty poet Su Shi telling me that “Happiness and sadness comes for us in parts”. The children got the money; I got to be told that life is about love and loss. This is probably a grand metaphor for the play that is essentially a play about love – personal love, love of culture, love of family and love of country. Some people get more of the love and others less. Some people work on getting the love others don’t bother. The play is book-ended by Henry, Rose's 70-year-old husband admitting to her he has yet to understand the Western concept of romantic love yet he is enthralled by traditional Chinese literature. This in a sense contrasts with Rose’s admission early on that she, as a New Zealand-born Chinese, has no knowledge of the language. Lantern is full of the ambiguities one finds in immigrant cultures, whether to hold on to the trappings of a culture or the spirit of that culture. There is much about the nature of being Chinese in New Zealand as well as the changing nature of the relationship with the dominant culture. The son Ken is teased by his friend Gaza about being a boiled egg – white on the outside and yellow inside. Jen the sister resorts to simpering Chinese speech when confronted with the police to get off a ticket. The four main roles of Henry, Rose , Ken and Jen plus another half dozen smaller roles are all played by James Roque and Chye-Ling Huang. They give outstanding performances as they morph from one role to another with superb timing and astute acting. Roque is particularly clever in changing from the 20-year-old Ken to the elderly Henry. With just slight facial expressions and body language he transforms himself. Huang does not capture the physicality of her characters as vividly but she provides them with a rich emotional intensity. The play is being presented only for the few days of the Lantern Festival but deserves a much longer season. See it when it returns.