Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dragon's creator wants focus on NZ team

5:00AM Wednesday April 30, 2008
By Lincoln Tan

Architect Ron Sang, putting the final touches to his dragon sculpture yesterday, hoped Kiwis could forget about the controversies over the Beijing Olympics and concentrate on supporting the New Zealand team.

The sculpture, an abstract dragon with a greenstone ball, will be unveiled tonight and presented as a good luck gift to the New Zealand Olympians after the launch ceremony of their uniform.

"We don't want to get into the politics of the Olympics, but just get behind our team," said Mr Sang, a member of the New Zealand Chinese Association.

The $50,000 sculpture was designed by New Zealand Chinese artist Guy Ngan, who will be at the function tonight at Villa Maria Estate, where the team's chef de mission, Dave Currie, will be presented with the art piece by association vice-president Steven Young.

Money for the sculpture was raised mainly from the local-born Chinese community.

The dragon will be with the Kiwi Olympians until the end of the Games, when it will be presented to the hosts as New Zealand's gift to them.

"The dragon is a perfect symbol for China, but we didn't want to give them a sculpture of a real dragon because they have plenty of those," Mr Sang said.

"That is why we decided to have an modern abstract dragon, one that's uniquely New Zealand - and having the greenstone is our way of including the Maori people in our gift."

Sheet-metal engineer Wayne Blythen, who worked on the sculpture, said it took six weeks and more than 200 man hours to put it together. It is on a 1000kg black-granite base, imported from China, engraved with the words "in recognition of the enduring friendship between China and New Zealand" in English and Chinese.

The sculpture will be exhibited at the Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin airports until it goes to Beijing in July.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fight that helped end hostilities at home

Fight that helped end hostilities at home
5:00AM Thursday April 24, 2008
By Lincoln Tan

World War II veteran Daniel Chan Lee says he will spend Anzac Day remembering those like his brother Willie who fought and died for New Zealand. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Attending the Anzac Day service used to be an annual routine for World War II veteran Daniel Chan Lee.

But the 93-year-old former transport soldier at 7 Royal Military Transport Unit says he is now too old for parades and will instead spend tomorrow remembering those who died fighting for New Zealand, including his brother.

Willie, his elder brother, who served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, died when his plane crashed in Cheshire, England, in 1942.

Mr Lee, one of six boys, also had a younger brother, Harry, who served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Mr Lee said New Zealand in those days had laws that discriminated against the Chinese, who were singled out as "undesirable aliens".

It had regulations such as the poll-tax, tonnage ratio, literacy test and thumb printing to limit the number of Chinese coming to New Zealand.

However, Mr Lee said many of the local-born Chinese still considered it to be an honour to be able to serve the country as soldiers, and he said the Army was a "like a different world".

"There was no racism there because we were all united with a common desire of wanting to serve our country, our home."

Mr Lee said his brother Willie is proof of how "colour blind New Zealand gets" when it comes to the Anzacs and other soldiers who died at war. Willie's name is listed on the Roll of Honour in Auckland War Memorial Museum's Hall of Memories.

"It didn't matter that he was Chinese; Willie was treated just as every other fallen soldier in the war."

Mr Lee said it had been his dream to fight overseas, but the Army said he looked too much like a Japanese.

Dr Manying Ip, an associate professor of Asian studies at the University of Auckland, wrote in her book Dinkum Aliens: Chinese New Zealanders in World War II: "In spite of their marginalised status, the hostile social climate, and their very small number (2,943 in the 1936 census), patriotic Chinese New Zealanders, mostly local-born, served in the Air Force, Army and Home Guard.

"World War II marked the crucial turning point for the Chinese community in New Zealand," Professor Ip wrote.

"The status of Chinese rose markedly, and Chinese market-gardeners [who grew produce for the troops] were classified as essential industry workers, their patriotic fundraising efforts within New Zealand and the valiant war resistance back in China were praised and acknowledged."

Mr Lee said he would not attend a service this year.

"By serving in the Army, the Chinese proved that we are just as loyal to New Zealand as anyone else, and I guess in that alone, the victory is ours."

Chinese had barred from naturalisation since 1908, but after World War II, New Zealand laws were changed to allow them to apply for citizenship.

On the web: The Auckland War Memorial Museum has a Book of Remembrance on its website for people to post messages on to remember those who served and died in war.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wanted - lots more Kiwi spuds to feed China

Stephen Wong says the problem will be satisfying a big market. Thrilled by the potential the free trade agreement with China brings, potato chip-maker Steven Wong is spending $2.8 million on new machinery to double his factory's production. But the chief executive of Fresher Foods is now faced with a new problem - New Zealand does not have enough potatoes to meet China's demands. "The free trade agreement opens up an almost unlimited potential," he said. "But many New Zealand companies will not be able to meet the demand of a market with 1.4 billion people." Mr Wong, 60, who was in Beijing as part of the delegation accompanying Prime Minister Helen Clark, said the new machinery at his East Tamaki chip factory to be installed this month would double weekly production to 800 tonnes. But his company would still struggle to meet Chinese orders, which are expected to skyrocket when tariffs are removed. "The lowest price I can offer for the chips at the moment is still about 5c above what the Americans and Europeans charge, but all that will change when the tariffs are eliminated," Mr Wong said. "Who knows what the demand will be like then." He said the factory already faced a shortfall of about 4000 tonnes this year. "China wants 25 tonnes of potato chips from us every week, but we can only supply them with that quantity in a month." Horticulture New Zealand's potato product group manager, Ron Gall, said the cold spring and extremely dry summer had resulted in an annual potato yield that was 15 per cent lower than the 500,000 tonnes New Zealand usually produces. Potatoes fetched about $220 a tonne and New Zealand could easily produce more if demand rose. But whether more farmers would grow the crop would depend on the price China was prepared to pay. "New Zealand has the potential to increase production of potatoes but competition for land use here is fierce," he said. "So, if the price is right, more will grow potatoes, but don't expect them to switch crops if they are going to be paid rock-bottom prices." NZ Herald 17/4/08 Lincoln Tan

Sunday, April 06, 2008