Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dream getaway lodge open for business

Luxurious Pakiri Point Lodge, which overlooks stunning Pakiri Beach in Rodney, was the subject of a long-running planning battle.

A luxury lodge has finally opened in Pakiri after a storm of protest over its prominent position on the cliff top overlooking the iconic beach.

The house, which is understood to have cost more than $5 million to build, drew objections from the public and the Auckland Regional Council which had spent $20 million buying the surrounding land for a new park.

The ARC claimed the house would spoil iconic views of the park.

However, Rodney District Council planning commissioners disagreed, saying the house was in an approved rural-residential subdivision, was appropriately designed and that landscaping and bush planting would avoid significant adverse affects.

After five years in the making and the battle through the resource management process, the house is now finished. It has six bedrooms, covers 600 sq m and sits among 4ha of young bush.

Its chiselled limestone pillars were chosen to harmonise with the white sands of the 24km-long wilderness beach below.

The lodge is owned and operated by catering supremo Rae Ah Chee and Fruitworld director Billy Chong and his wife Evelyn.

Mr Ah Chee said yesterday that he was enthusiastic about providing "a quality experience" for up to 10 guests after 40 years of catering at huge venues including Eden Park.

He said Pakiri Point Lodge was tastefully decorated and furnished in a "fusion of quality".

It won a gold award for the Auckland region "House of the Year" - for homes over $1 million.

A finalist for the national award, it also collected regional awards in the sustainability and best kitchen categories of the Registered Master Builders' competition.

Mr Ah Chee said dozens of Rodney-based tradesmen had worked on the two-year project and he hoped that, as business grew, up to six residents would be employed running the lodge. Its location, with its commanding view over the beach and the ocean, was a point of difference to many other luxury lodges in Rodney.

"It's a 70-minute drive from Auckland and 20 minutes by helicopter over stunning water scenery," he said.

The lodge's website says ensuite rooms are priced from $550 to $650 per couple per night, including breakfast.

Mr Ah Chee said the lodge would compete for guests from overseas but he had also had inquiries from Aucklanders planning a wedding anniversary or birthday. Other luxury lodges in Rodney District have nightly rates from $300 to $695.
By Wayne Thompson | Email Wayne
4:00 AM Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pioneering spirit lives

PROUD DESCENDANTS: Grandsons of early Chinese immigrant Thomas Wong Doo, from left: Selwyn Wong Doo, Thomas Wong Doo III, and Dennis Doo.
Thomas Wong Doo
MADE A DIFFERENCE: Thomas Wong Doo helped a number of Chinese into New Zealand in the early 1900s.

The descendants of a 19th century immigrant have flocked to the North Shore 125 years after his arrival.

Up to 100 descendants of Thomas Wong Doo, some from as far as New York, celebrated their Kiwi and Chinese heritage with a reunion lunch at New Dragon World Restaurant in Birkenhead.

Thomas Wong Doo joined his brothers in the "New Gold Mountain" of New Zealand in 1884 when he was about 15.

"He came over in virtually his shirt and pants and took over the market garden," grandson Thomas Wong Doo III says.

Mr Wong Doo eventually returned to China and married, later bringing his wife Unui to New Zealand where she was one of the first female Chinese immigrants.

He loaned others £100 for the poll tax Chinese immigrants had to pay – the equivalent of a year’s wages, his grandson says.

Mr Wong Doo even sponsored a large group of people to migrate in the lead up to the closing date for Asian immigration in the early 1900s.

"He helped the Chinese when they came in, fed them, housed them, helped them look for jobs. The Chinese live in clans. Thomas looked after the Wong clan."

Even now family members still offer their help to new immigrants through the Kwong Cheu Club which Mr Wong Doo founded in 1923.

"To further the dynasty we’ve got to do good in this world, charity, not just looking after ourselves. It’s good for the whole family."

After making their fortunes and the family were established, the couple returned to China but were forced to come back after the Japanese invasion, Mr Wong Doo III says.

Their Chinese properties and land was lost in the Japanese invasion, civil war, and take over by communism in 1949.

The market gardens where Mr Wong Doo worked in Grey Lynn were named Chinaman’s Hill after him.

His son Norman Wong Doo went on to be Auckland Grammar School’s first Chinese student during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Norman’s son, North Shore resident Dennis Doo, says.

"He used to tell me he had his shirt ripped off his back because of racial discrimination."

Mr Wong Doo III says such behaviour was not uncommon.

"When you’re an immigrant in any country you’ve got to prove yourself, you’ve got to put up with all these things. This is what the Doo family have done – work hard, get integrated into society, get involved with charities."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Asian input critical to city's future, says Huo

4:00AM Wednesday Nov 04, 2009
By Lincoln Tan

Despite being voted down in Parliament, Labour's Chinese MP Raymond Huo says he will be continuing his fight to have an Asian advisory board on Auckland's new Super City Council through a private member's bill.

"The Asian population is projected to hit 400,000 in Auckland within seven years, and the council will not be representative of the people if it did not have an input from this community," Mr Huo said.

Mr Huo's push to get an Asian advisory board included in the Super City was voted down in Parliament by 64 votes to 58.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out the possibility of having Maori seats on the new council, but Mr Huo said he wasn't seeking an Asian seat, although the Asian population will be growing at a much faster rate than Maori because of immigration.

"We are not seeking an Asian seat, simply a statutory link to the governing body that will advise on issues that affect the Asian community."

He said Auckland is the "seventh largest city with people of Chinese origin outside China" - in percentage terms - and that will continue to accelerate because of current immigration policy.

Under the parent policy New Zealand Immigration defines a family's "centre of gravity" as "the number of their adult children lawfully and permanently in New Zealand being equal to or greater than those in any other single country", making it eligible for nearly every immigrant from China to sponsor his or her parent because of the country's one-child policy.

The Asian population in Auckland is third only to European and Maori, and is projected to grow by 51 per cent up to 2016, compared with 46 per cent for the rest of New Zealand, he said.

"Auckland absorbs a disproportionate share of this growth, with about two-thirds of all new Asian migrants settling in the region," Mr Huo said.

"Ethnic minorities have also always been under-represented on Auckland's councils, with only 4 per cent being Asian, 4 per cent Pacific, 9 per cent Maori while 84 per cent are European. We need a more balanced representation if Auckland is truly to become a Super City."

Auckland University Professor of Asian Studies Manying Ip says the move to get Asian representation was "sensible" and something "policymakers cannot ignore" because Asians made up 13 per cent of the Auckland population.

She said many born under China's one-child policy were taking advantage of New Zealand's parent policy to sponsor their parents and even grandparents here, bringing new challenges in health, housing and socio-economic issues which will be better understood by members of the Asian community.

"Everything is legal, this is the New Zealand Government's policy and people are making full use of it.

"It is an inevitable trend, and it is up to everybody to get used to it. We cannot turn the clock back," Professor Ip said.