Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sperm donors line up for 'dragon baby'

Potential sperm donors from across the country have stepped forward to help an Auckland woman who wants a "dragon baby".

Bevan Chuang, a single 30-year-old, wants to get pregnant this year so her baby is born in the Chinese year of the Dragon which is considered the most auspicious sign in the 12-year astrological cycle.

The New Year was welcomed in on January 23 and will run until February 9 next year.

Chuang went public with her search earlier this month and has since been contacted by about 20 men.

With just a couple of months to fall pregnant Chuang has made shortlist and will spend the next few weeks meeting the possible fathers.

"About five or six of them are genuine, like they really want it because they understand where I'm coming from and they want to help me pursue what I want to do.

"I've had people who are older that tell me they already have children but they just want to help me.

"And then I have one single man who has been having trouble finding a partner so he just wants a child."

Potential fathers for her child have ranged in age from 27 to men in their 40s.

Chuang says she would like a donor who could remain a part of the child's life but says offers have come from around the country.

"There's a few from the South Island, a couple from Christchurch, someone from Kaitaia - they're not all from Auckland."

She says rather than conducting a formal interview she just wants to meet potential donors and find out what they're like.

"I will have to meet them and talk to them and find out more about them.

"The correspondence I have got so far has just been electronic, I haven't met these people."

Chuang says she is open to fathers of all ethnicities and does not mind if they are not dragon babies themselves, but will ask potential donors if they have a family history of genetic illnesses.

Chuang, whose sperm donor quest has landed her on television and radio, says feedback from the public has been mixed.

"It's been interesting to see the comments online, to see what people assumed was the motive behind it.

"There are people, especially my friends, who are really supportive but there are people saying I wasn't being responsible or that I was selfish to have a child as a single woman.
She says one person accused her of trying to get residency, but says having a child here wouldn't entitle her to that anyway.

Chuang says it is English-speakers who are surprised at her request.
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"I think in China it's more acceptable because it's not uncommon that people want a child in this year."

According to Chinese astrology, dragon babies are destined to be wealthy and successful.

China is expected to see a five per cent increase in the birth rate this year as a result of couples trying to have dragon babies.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fireworks rules no sales dampener

Tough fireworks restrictions did not stop bumper sales yesterday as people stocked up for Guy Fawkes celebrations.

New government regulations have raised the age that people can buy fireworks from 14 to 18, and have cut the sales days from 10 to four.

Hamilton's Frankton Model Shop owner Geoff Leong said opening day sales were strong, with about 12 people waiting outside early yesterday to buy fireworks.

Based on initial sales, he said, he might sell as many fireworks as last year. While the shop had cut its stock slightly, it was still offering about 80 varieties.

"We've had lots of families come through and buy packs," Mr Leong said. "Asking for ID hasn't been a problem either, people have been really good about it."

Under the regulations, popular "sparklers" have to be sold in packs with other fireworks.

Mr Leong said sparklers had become a problem recently with some people making sparkler bombs. "It's a real shame because sparklers are popular with families. I'm sure these families are disappointed by the restrictions."

Mill St Pak 'N Save owner Glenn Miller was confident the Hamilton supermarket would sell as many fireworks as last year.

"Every year it seems people are told that this could be the final year of firework sales and so they go out and buy them."

Environmental Risk Management Agency chief executive Rob Forlong said the regulations were designed to "reduce the irresponsible use of fireworks". "We want to see an end to the damage caused by fireworks when they aren't used as they should be."

He said the shortened sale period should limit firework use, with sales ending on Monday.

Community fireworks displays include today's Waikato Fireworks Fiesta at the Ohaupo Rugby Club grounds, Forkert Rd. Entertainment begins at 5pm, with the main display at 9pm. Adults cost $7, children $3.

A Fireworks Extravaganza at the Morrinsville Recreation Ground today starts at 5pm. Adults $10, children $5.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Last updated 00:00 03/11/2007

Chinese group to invest in Kiwi startups

A group of well-heeled Chinese business people with connections to New Zealand is getting together to invest in promising Kiwi companies.

New Zealand's first Chinese angel investment network hopes to start operating in February.

It's the brainchild of the Ice Angels, the private investment group set up by Auckland University's Icehouse business incubator in 2003 and which is now the largest in Australasia.

Ice Angels advisory board member Brent Ogilvie said they looked around at their membership and realised they were predominantly New Zealand Caucasian.

''There is obvious wealth among overseas Chinese with some connection to New Zealand.

''We think there's an opportunity and we have done some soundings with key individuals in the Chinese community in New Zealand to form a subgroup.''

The Ice Angels have secured the support of Auckland City's economic development agency ATEED, which will fund a Mandarin-speaking intern to provide administrative and language support to the fledgling group.

It has enlisted the help of Auckland University to find a suitable post-graduate student.

The ATEED connection will also offer access to prestigious meeting room facilities such as at the Town Hall - something that Chinese business people consider important, Ogilvie said.

The Ice Angels themselves would provide full support. Each member of the Chinese group would be paired with an advisory board member, and the network would be offered a pre-qualified deal flow.

Only businesses that had already received money from organisations such as Ogilvie's investment firm Pacific Channel or funds accredited to the governement's Venture Investment Fund would be put before the group.

Given that it was likely not all members would be in the country at the same time the group was aiming for a total membership of around 12, Ogilvie said.

Angel investing was done in China but the networks were not as large.

But the Chinese believed in growing businesses through relationships. ''So in many ways they have been doing angel investing for a long time.''

Group member Kenneth Leong said Kiwi businesses were crying out for funds.

''There is a huge pool of untapped capital right under our noses.''
Chinese business people had an appetite for New Zealand assets but many held their funds here in bank deposits or property.

They were prepared to take on risk. Go to the high rollers' room at the casino at 5pm on any given day and 95 per cent of the patrons will be Chinese, he joked.
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''What's lacking is a platform for Chinese investors to connect with New Zealand businesses.''

Other forums had been too structured, but it was hoped an informal network of angel investors would enable deals to occur organically, Leong said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2011

One family, two cultures

They eat new potatoes as much as noodles and in many other ways the Leong family fit the ever-changing profile of a modern New Zealand Asian family.

Figures issued by Statistics New Zealand yesterday projected that the 400,000-strong Asian population would increase by 3.4 per cent a year to 790,000 by 2026.

The proportion of Kiwis identifying with Asian ethnicity by that time would rise from 10 per cent to 16 per cent.

Among them will be the Leongs; they classify themselves as Chinese New Zealanders and incorporate aspects of both cultures into everyday life.

It is a practice that has become entrenched over three generations of the Seatoun family, with Jack Leong, 84, raising his son David as a typical Kiwi respectful of his Chinese heritage.

In turn, David is raising his two daughters and son, also called Jack, 17 months, in the same way.

David's wife, Angela, said the assimilation of both cultures into family life was something that had "just happened".

"We didn't make a conscious decision but we were raised as Kiwis and we wanted our kids raised the same way but to still understand the traditions and customs of Chinese culture."

These come to the fore particularly around how the Chinese handle the delicate issue of death.

"At funerals, mourners are traditionally given handkerchiefs to wipe away the tears, lollies to lessen the bitterness and money for good luck."

Her two older children, Stacey, 8, and Cate 5, have been made aware of their heritage and are encouraged to hold on to that side of it.

One aspect which may already be lost is the language; Angela spoke it as a preschooler but soon lost fluency and she laments that it probably will not be picked up easily by her children.

"With my parents both living in the South Island, I find the language is getting further away too."

She is, however, determined that other parts of the culture will be retained.

"We try and follow some traditions because we think it's important."

- © Fairfax NZ News

FAMILY: They eat new potatoes as much as noodles and in many other ways the Leong family - including Jack and his namesake grandson - fit the ever-changing profile of a modern NZ Asian family. Last updated 01:42 03/04/2008

Chinese? Yes please

My colleague Alistair Kwun sometimes posts photos on Facebook which looks as if he's on holiday in China, Singapore or Malaysia but when I take a closer look, I realise he's here in Auckland.

In recent years, increased migration has led to Auckland becoming a far more cosmopolitan city. It's possible to step into some neighbourhoods or eating establishments and feel as if you're in another, possibly more exotic, world.

January provides a great opportunity for a "cultural exchange" while staying in Auckland as the country's Chinese community marks the biggest celebration on its calendar: Chinese New Year.

Auckland, as the city with NZ's biggest Asian population (estimated at around 260,000), hosts some of the biggest celebrations.

Where to celebrate

Today the Auckland Chinese Community Centre Inc welcomes the Year of the Dragon with its annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day at the ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.

Prime Minister John Key and Mayor Len Brown officially open the festivities, which begin with a Lion Dance performed to bring good luck, fortune and health in the coming year as well as drive away evil spirits.

As well as more than 200 specialist market stalls, there's an extensive programme of Chinese cultural songs, dances and musical items (performed by groups as diverse as community organisations and Chinese pop bands), martial arts and tai chi demonstrations. This year, entertainment also includes a visit from a troupe of shadow puppet performers and traditional folk musicians from Gansu in northwestern China.

Later today in Manukau, World TV Limited presents the ASB LunarFest 2012 from 3-11pm at TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre. Organisers say it's an Asian tradition, especially in China, to have a festival before New Year's Eve. It's called a "flower market" where visitors can buy flowers and plants but also crafts, arts and other items.

The LunarFest has those elements but also the feel of a summer "music extravaganza" with cultural and magic shows, pop music and appearances by Chinese Idols and NZ Chinese beauty queens.

Fireworks are a feature of Chinese New Year, so they'll be a highlight of LunarFest. A 12-minute display begins at 10pm and features special sequences of red and gold along with choreographed new pyrotechnic effects.

The Fo Guang Shan North Island Temple and Tea House in Flat Bush was built based on the palatial designs of the Tang Dynasty. It occupies a four-hectare site and features expansive temple buildings as well as meticulously landscaped and maintained gardens.

Crowds will gather on Sunday evening for the New Year's Eve Dharma Function and First Incense offering. Incense is offered to Buddha to wish for good fortune in the New Year. On Monday, New Year's Day, there are further services - the New Year Respecting a Thousand Buddhas Service from 10am-midday, as well as the New Year Vegetarian Food Fair to which everyone is welcome.

The festivities don't finish on New Year's Day. A week later, the Northcote Town Centre celebrates Chinese and Korean New Year with a free family day featuring Asian food stalls, children's entertainment and special activities like fortune-telling. The party kicks off on Friday, 27 January from 5.30-9pm and continues on Saturday with activities from 10am-3pm.

Chinese Auckland all year round

There are a number of ethnic precincts around this city which provide a chance to experience Chinese culture: Northcote, Somerville and Botany Park Estate, Upper Queen St and the Chinatown Markets in Pakuranga to name a few.

Opened in 1997, the Somerville Business Centre in Howick is one of the oldest such purpose-built precincts. It includes a Tai Ping Supermarket, service businesses like accountants and travel agencies, Asian fashion boutiques, jewellery stores and a range of eating establishments.

Such areas make it easier for migrants to do business plus provide the chance for new arrivals to trial businesses in a familiar environment but the benefit for the wider population is a more varied range of goods and services - just check out the range of Asian and Pacific fruit and vegetables at Tai Ping.

On a wet, windy supposedly summer night, when a holiday somewhere tropical would have been welcome, Alistair and I visited Dominion Rd, on the border of Balmoral/Mt Eden. A much older shopping strip, it has been transformed in recent years thanks to the arrival of a number of Asian businesses.

On this stretch of Dominion Rd, there is a rich range of cheap 'n' cheerful Asian restaurants/cafes where the emphasis is strictly on the food. Forget about linen tablecloths, mood lighting or silver service and simply eat and enjoy.

We ate at Barilla Dumpling. The restaurant was filled with a mix of students, families and couples enjoying an incredible range of delectable, authentic and very reasonably priced dishes. The menu is huge and includes soups, rice and noodle dishes, sizzling platters, vegetarian options, casseroles, pancakes and, of course, dumplings - the house speciality. Think of a dumpling filling and Barilla is likely to provide it.

Next stop was further along Dominion Rd, towards Mt Roskill, at J's Tea. Tea houses and cafes are a feature of Chinese life and they're popping up all over Auckland. With its striking red and white decor, J's is a contemporary take on the cultural phenomenon and attracts a young Chinese crowd who wants to hang out, play cards, listen to and watch music videos, catch up on reading Asian fashion mags and, of course, sip fantastic teas and enjoy snacks from an extensive menu.

For a completely different teahouse experience, head to Flat Bush and the Fo Guang Shan North Island Temple and Tea House. The temple is a working Buddhist monastery, huge in scale, and one of the most potent and spectacular symbols of the growth of Chinese culture in New Zealand.

With its dark wood furnishings and traditional Chinese decor, the teahouse is unique. It serves vegetarian food, coffee and tea and makes a perfect spot for experiencing a taste of another culture.

While food is one of the most accessible ways to experience Chinese culture, there are other ways to learn more. With branches in Mt Eden and Mangere, the Auckland Chinese Community Centre, for example, offers language lessons to children and adults in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

The Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions spread throughout the world to promote Chinese language and culture. Though similar to organisations such as France's Alliance Francaise and Germany's Goethe-Institut, Confucius Institutes are aligned to the Chinese Government and operate through universities and schools.

Auckland University is the base for a Confucius Institute, where Chinese language and culture classes are taught. Two courses offer a brush with Chinese culture - literally - as they're focused on teaching calligraphy and traditional Chinese brush painting. You can find out more at

Cultural melting pot
Other organisations throughout NZ now acknowledge the importance of Chinese New Year; NZ Post even issues special stamps.

On Sunday January 29, the Chinese Associations of Auckland have organised the Cultures of China, Festival of Spring concerts performed by the Soldier Acrobatic Troupe of PLA in Guangzhou at 2 and 7pm at the Bruce Mason Centre.

Other ways of marking the Year of the Dragon could include attending the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Chinese New Year concert which features pianist John Chen, soprano Jenny Wollerman and Hong Kong Philharmonic Associate Conductor Perry So.

The concert opens with Wollerman performing The Floating Bride, The Crimson Village, a song cycle by Ross Harris and inspired by the art of Marc Chagall and the poetry of Vincent O'Sullivan. Red-hot young pianist Chen teams up with the NZSO to perform The Yellow River Piano Concerto which was composed as a cantata in 1939 and recomposed as a piano concerto during the country's Cultural Revolution.

Further down country, the Marlborough Wine Festival, on February 11, is embracing the Year of the Dragon spirit, too, with veteran band Dragon as its headline act.

Lantern Festival

The Chinese obviously like a good celebration because they keep their New Year activities going for two weeks and end with another party. In Auckland, New Year celebrations end with the Asia New Zealand Foundation's very popular Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park. Now in its 13th year, hundreds of brightly coloured lanterns light up the park from Friday to Sunday, February 3-5.

New lanterns are created each year for the New Zealand festival and made in Zigong, in the Chinese province of Sichuan. The 2012 display features a special pair commissioned by China's Ministry of Culture to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

Multimedia artist, DJ and music producer Darryl Thompson (also known as DLT) has designed a taniwha lantern while Shanghai-born Aucklander and graphic designer Dennis Juan Ma has made a companion dragon lantern.

Aside from wondering at the lanterns, entertainment includes Beijing-based Long Shen Dao (way of the dragon spirit), considered China's best reggae band.

Thanks to Alistair Kwun for help with research for this article.
By Dionne Christian Dionne Christian: Chinese? Yes please
By Dionne Christian
5:30 AM Saturday Jan 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's the Year of the Dragon

According to the Chinese calendar, the New Year ticks over on January 23 and celebrations marking the start of the 4709th year last 15 days. Welcome to the Year of the Dragon Auckland.

The local Chinese community are kicking things off a little early this year, making sure there are lots of things to see and do to celebrate:

Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day - Saturday, January 21

With more than 20,000 Aucklanders expected at this one day event, organisers have made sure they will be entertained.

John Key's official opening of the day at 10am will be followed up by an acrobatic, shadow puppet and musical troupe from Gansu, China.

Other highlights include more than 200 specialist stalls selling traditional Chinese delicacies, food and drink, arts and crafts as well as an extensive programme of Chinese dances and musical performances, martial arts and games.

Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day 2012 at ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane on January 21. Entry is free.

Chinese Lantern Festival - starts Friday, February 3

For what has become an Auckland tradition, hundreds of Chinese lanterns are about to transform Albert Park. For three nights, the inner city park will be lit up by imported paper lanterns and pack with food stalls to make picnicking even easier.

Plus there will be non-stop entertainment including a dragon and lion dance group from Shanghai, a Chinese-reggae band from Beijing, an opera and modern dance group from Taizhou and a Hong Kong a cappella group.

Chinese Lantern Festival at Albert Park on February 3-5. Entry is free.

NZSO Chinese New Year Concert - Friday, February 3

Celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome in the Year of the Dragon with young New Zealand pianist John Chen, soprano Jenny Wollerman, and the return of Hong Kong Philharmonic Associate Conductor Perry So as they bring one of China's most beloved compositions, The Yellow River Piano Concerto, to life along with other stunning pieces.

NZSO Chinese New Year Concert at the Auckland Town Hall on February 3. Tickets from The Edge.

Auckland Libraries celebrations

Libraries around Auckland are holding a programme of free activities, displays, stories and presentation to coincide with the lunar New Year. Kids can enjoy a story time for little dragons as well as making their very own scaly creature, while the older ones can try their hand at calligraphy or computer classes in mandarin plus a whole lot more.

Auckland Libraries celebrate Chinese New Year around Auckland from January 18 to February 11. Visit for more information.

Chinese New Year at SkyCity

Auckland's Sky Tower will again be lit in the traditional colours of red and gold for the Chinese New Year period, while inside SkyCity there will be a special menu at the Jade Dragon restaurant. The festivities will start with a bang on January 22 as firecrackers are let off at the base of the Sky Tower.

The next night on Chinese New Year's Day, the celebrations really start with acrobats, a lion dance and more.

Chinese New Year at SkyCity from January 21. Entry is free.

- © Fairfax NZ News Your guide to celebrating Chinese New Year
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Natalie Chan: Bringing back glam

New Zealand designer Natalie Chan is bucking the recent trend of economic doom and gloom in the fashion industry with the opening of her store in Auckland.

The new space is below Chan's workroom in Parnell and is a reflection of the designer's love of vintage and opulence.

She says the shop is 'an overflow of pieces from her home'.

Chan previously worked for designer Trelise Cooper and has made a name for herself designing one-off bespoke outfits, fascinators and bejewelled headpieces.

Her current collection is filled with bright jewel-coloured silks and whimsical vintage fabrics sourced from her travels overseas.

She says her aim is to bring back femininity and the hey-day of the headpiece and beautiful dressing.

"I want to see the confidence expressed in women who dress to show off their individuality and femininity."

Key pieces include a silk, backless, reversible halter dress which can be worn in a multitude of ways. BY TRACEY BOND
Last updated 11:10 26/02/2009

All eyes on sun sense at Mt Eden Normal

The eyes of year 1 students from Mt Eden Normal will be well protected during the hot summer months.

Ellerslie Eyecare optometrist Jeremy Wong donated a pair of glasses to 140 five-year-olds at the school, which his son Zachary attends.

Mr Wong says a lack of understanding about how the sun can damage the eyes made him decide to give the sunglasses away for free.

"The parents of most children wear sunglasses themselves, but the kids don’t," Mr Wong says.

"But the kids eyes are more sensitive to UV, so that’s why I wanted to give the kids a free pair."

While damage to children’s eyes isn’t immediate, he says protection is vital in their early years to prevent damage later in life.

"An eye damaged by UV can bring on cataracts. It’s a cumulative thing over time."

In previous years, Mr Wong provided sunglasses to schools through a nationwide programme.

But he decided go it alone because the programme supplied the kids with glasses in February rather than at the start of summer.

"If they’re a fun pair of glasses they will wear them," he says.

Five-year-old Zachary says he likes his pair of glasses because they have blue frames, while room 26 classmate India was pleased with her bright pink pair.

"I’m going to wear them at playtime," she says.

Deputy principal Chris Patel is thrilled Mr Wong decided to donate the glasses to the school’s year 1 students.

"It’s a very generous thing. The thing that he gets out of it is a personal buzz.

"It’s a really lovely thing giving more than you take."

Mr Wong hopes to donate the glasses to Mt Eden Normal’s youngest students at the start of every summer.

- © Fairfax NZ News Last updated 14:18 16/12/2008

JASON OXENHAM/Central Leader
SUN SMART: Optometrist Jeremy Wong, with son Zachary on his lap, has donated free sunglasses to year 1 pupils at Mt Eden Normal in time for summer.

Doctor makes life-saving sacrifices

Top burns specialist Richard Wong She will miss part of his daughter's 13th birthday on December 3.

But that's a sacrifice he is willing to make for his patients. Dr Wong She is asking you to consider paying a much smaller price to help the National Burn Centre at Middlemore Hospital get the equipment it desperately needs.

He will be among those attending a Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust fundraising dinner on his daughter's big day. The evening is being held as part of the trust's Operation Heal – a project aimed at raising $200,000 for a state-of-the-art operating microscope.

Dr Wong She says the microscope will make sure about 100 people a year receive the operations they need.

It will help burn victims, breast cancer patients and those needing serious limb injuries repaired.

"What we're using now is almost a decade old. The new microscope allows us to take a block of tissue, transpose it and plumb it into the arteries and veins of a new part of the body.

"We have seven surgeons who specialise in this type of procedure but only one and half older microscopes. It's like having a team of courier drivers but only one old van."

One patient eager for the arrival of the new microscope is 15-year-old Jimi Harper.

The wall of his stomach was blown out by a stray 11,000 volt powerline and he's been waiting since 2003 for an operation to repair it properly.

"The operation is not possible without this microscope," Dr Wong She says.

"So we will be able to finally fulfil that promise to Jimi and his family that we made seven years ago."

Dr Wong She also had to skip a nine-year-old daughter's birthday this year because he was training junior doctors. He says missing family milestones is necessary when lives are at stake.

"It's hard having to explain to my daughters why I missed their recitals, birthdays, and prizegivings. But I'm willing to make these sacrifices because I know I can make a big difference."

He says all the staff at National Burn Centre are now gearing up for their busiest time of the year.

"We see a definite peak about November, December and January. Holiday plus sun plus alcohol equals badness. So while the rest of the country is enjoying themselves – we're dealing with the carnage.

"That's why we're asking the public to please help us to deliver the 21st century healthcare that it needs."

The Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust will hold a corporate charity dinner at Auckland's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre on December 3. Guest speaker Prime Minister John Key will be interviewed on stage by broadcaster Paul Holmes during a night of glitz and glamour to raise funds for the National Burn Centre.

The evening starts at 7.30pm and will include live and silent auctions as well as music from the band Black Salt. A cheque will be handed over to the National Burn Centre at the end. Tickets cost $1850 + GST for a table of 10 or $185 + GST per person. Call Shandall on (09) 531-5910 or email

Last updated 10:23 17/11/2010

Dr Wong
Justin Latif
OLD EQUIPMENT: Dr Richard Wong She with the older operating microscope used at Middlemore Hospital.

Non-payment of award 'bad look'

An exploited Malaysian Chinese cook awarded nearly $100,000 after employment hearings last year has yet to receive a cent from the Chinese restaurant in which she worked.

Her Christchurch immigration agent, John Horan, said the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) had inadequate "teeth" to enforce awards, which he believed should be treated more like fines.

Boon Chwee Tan, 57, came to New Zealand from Malaysia in 1999 and in 2000 began working at the Asha restaurant in Riccarton operated by businessman Chung Wong.

She told the ERA hearings that she had often worked more than 60 hours a week until 2008 but was never paid overtime, holiday pay or penal rates for working public holidays.

Authority member Helen Doyle last year ruled Tan was unjustifiably dismissed and awarded $95,000 in back pay and costs against both Wong personally and his company Asha Co.

Wong's lawyer recently advised Tan the restaurant could not pay as it had no funds.

Tan told The Press her inability to get payment was a bad look for the New Zealand justice system.

"It feels like we won the battle but lost the war," her partner, Trevor Taylor, said.

Horan said he, Taylor and Tan had worked hard for two years to get a just settlement.

"This case shows how difficult it is for employees to get compensation out of small businesses which don't have a big profile," Horan said.

His client now faced a long battle in the courts to get the money she was awarded, he said.

"Surely it would be better if the ERA immediately enforced payment through time payment or whatever, with an ability to impose fines or imprisonment if no money is forthcoming. Some employers can thumb their noses at the ERA."

Wong did not respond to messages.

Initially, staff at his restaurant said he was busy and later said he no longer operated the restaurant although he helped out occasionally.

Chwee Tan's story

I am now 57 and work in a factory in Christchurch. It is relaxing compared to working at the Asha Restaurant.

I live with my New Zealand partner whose wife died of leukaemia several years ago.

I came to New Zealand from Malaysia in 1999 as a trained chef and obtained a work permit. I had been working as a chef for about nine years.

In August 2000, I began work as a chef at the Asha Restaurant in Riccarton owned by Chung Wong, who had previously been a chef himself.

There was a lot to do and I worked 10-hour days six days a week.

I was paid $350 in the hand each week in cash. I had Tuesdays off.

I was never paid any extra for working public holidays or for the extra hours I worked. I did not get any holidays and did not get holiday pay.

Chung told me since I worked in a Chinese restaurant, it was the laws of China.

I had to keep working because I was in New Zealand on a work permit and would have to leave if I could not find other work.

I hoped to show a good work record and get permanent residency.

When I did apply for permanent residency my tax records showed I only paid a little amount of tax.

I got permanent residency last year.

In 2003 my wages were increased to $450 weekly. Chung said that included holiday pay and public holiday pay.

In 2004 the restaurant started opening for longer – to 2am – and I had to cover for a worker who left. I had to work very hard, sometimes 12 hours a day.

I thought I had no choice because of the work permit situation.

I got a lot of the blame for things going wrong in the restaurant. Chung would yell at me and I felt small and bad because of his yelling.

I always worried I would lose my job and many times over the years I went home crying. This was my life for so many years I became very sick and lost much weight and always felt very unhappy.

In 2006 my employment contract was for me to be head chef, but I was not paid any more wages and worked on average 69 hours over a six-day week.

During 2007/2008 my pay was $550 cash every week but Chung would give me the money and take $50 back and say it was to help me pay tax.In late 2008 I began a relationship with Mr Taylor who I had known for many years.

He said I was being treated like a slave and insisted I not work on public holidays unless I was paid the proper New Zealand rates.

Around Christmas of 2008 I told Chung I wanted the proper pay rate to work the public holidays. We had a big argument and Chung was very upset.

He yelled at me and said in New Zealand you kill someone and you just go to jail, not like China where they execute you. [Wong denies saying this.]

I worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day and on December 30, 2008.

I was paid an extra $100 for Christmas and Boxing days and told not to come back because there was no work for me.

I was very tired and stressed. I had to rest for a long time before I felt better again.

I know of other Chinese workers on work permits who have had similar experiences.

I was never told about my employment rights in New Zealand.

I was told by other Chinese "just work. No questions or no job".

Last updated 05:00 12/02/2011

$90,000 win for worker

A Christchurch restaurant worker who says she was threatened for asking for a holiday at Christmas has been awarded more than $90,000 in compensation.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that Boon Chwee Tan was dismissed unjustifiably by her employers, Chung Wong and Asha Co Ltd, in December 2008 after eight years at the Asha Restaurant in Riccarton Rd.

The authority's decision was released yesterday.

Tan told the authority she did not have any paid holidays, was not paid appropriately for working public holidays, worked considerable overtime for which she was not paid, was subjected to verbal threats and was discriminated against.

She said she was contracted to work up to 40 hours a week, but worked up to 57 hours over six days.

Tan said Wong threatened her when she requested leave for Christmas Day 2008.

She quit because she was "very tired and worn out" and gave two weeks notice on December 22, 2008.

She said Wong agreed to her leaving on December 30, but then told her to go on December 28.

Wong said Tan gave only one week's notice and that he did not argue with her or make threats.

He said he was told she did not want to work because her partner would "make trouble".

Wong said Tan was paid extra for working public days.

During the initial part of her employment, she worked four days, from noon until 2pm and from 4pm to 8pm.

She would also work on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon until 2pm and from 4pm until 8.30pm.

Wong said this changed in September 2005 when Tan's wages were increased and she worked from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8.30pm during the week, and from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

ERA member Helen Doyle said she was satisfied that Tan worked longer hours than the 38 hours, and later 40 hours.

"I find from her evidence that she was starting to feel quite torn between her partner's view that she should not work in such conditions and her workplace where she had worked for eight years," she said.

Doyle said the threat alleged was "serious" but found it was made by another employee.

"It may have been made by another employee, but I am not satisfied that it was made by Mr Wong in relation to Ms Tan working on Christmas Day," she said.

" I find that the reason for Ms Tan resigning was the pressure she was feeling about claiming money and enforcing rights in circumstances where she was continuing to work at the restaurant."

Doyle awarded Tan a total of $90,304 and reserved costs.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Trip a mix of fun and science

It was an extraordinary science trip for Palmerston North Girls' High School student Jenny Wong, 17, who was awarded a scholarship to the 2009 Professor Harry Messel International Science School.

Miss Wong, who plans to study medicine, spent two weeks in Sydney at the end of July learning at the School of Physics.

Only five scholarships were awarded to New Zealand students and 145 students attended the two-week-long trip.

Students were from all around the world including America and Japan.

Miss Wong said the trip was a great experience for her.

"I'm really into science. I know it is something I want to do. And I had never been to Australia."

Biology is her favourite science and although she went on a more physics-based trip everything she learnt can still be applied.

"Everyone is born being curious and science allows us to know more about life on earth and gives us a new and better approach to things."

Lectures were given by professors from Australia, someone from NASA and a French university lecturer.

One of the things Miss Wong liked the most about the experience was the people she got to meet and learn from.

"You definitely know that the people that are going are intelligent and work hard to get there. From some of the countries students had to take an exam."

Social activities were also included during the two weeks and Miss Wong was able to see the harbour bridge and the Opera House as well as attend the Beauty and the Geek disco.

Miss Wong received her $3000 scholarship through the Royal Society of New Zealand and was also given funds from her school.

Last updated 12:00 11/08/2009

Palmerston North student Jenny Wong spent two weeks studying in Sydney as one of five NZ students to be awarded a scholarship to the 2009 Professor Harry Messel International Science School.
WARWICK SMITH/Manawatu Standard
BUDDING SCIENTIST: Palmerston North student Jenny Wong spent two weeks studying in Sydney as one of five NZ students to be awarded a scholarship to the 2009 Professor Harry Messel International Science School.

Twizel film close to completion

Director Declan Wong has completed his long-awaited film about Twizel – he is just waiting for the premiere to be arranged.

Mr Wong has been working on the film for nearly two years, and admits it has taken longer than everyone expected.

"It's sort of stretched out from what was the original idea of the film, which was basically just to promote Twizel," he said.

"The more I delved into the town's history, the more I got interested in it."

The film is a project of the Twizel District Promotions Association. More than $100,000 has been raised towards the film, largely through community grants and fundraising.

Mr Wong said it was only this week that he had finished off the final editing and sound mixing for the film.

"We'll be talking over the next couple of weeks about a premiere, it's been such an effort that I'm looking forward to it being released," he said.

Mr Wong said most of the film would focus on the hydro development, and the locals' subsequent fight to protect the town after the Government initially threatened to decommission it. Over the last few weeks, he has been able to source a lot of archival material from Opus Consultants.

"I've talked to a wide range of people who were involved in the development, particularly (chief engineer for the Upper Waitaki project) Max Smith, who is still razor-sharp," he said.

"That sort of project could not have been done now. They shifted something close to four million cubic metres of soil in one four-month period," he said.

"That sort of speed and scale of work could only happen when everyone answered to one department– the Ministry of Works.

"These days, you would have to get geologists to assess the area, and workers certainly wouldn't be allowed to work 15-hour days week-in, week-out."

As well as documenting the hydro development, Mr Wong said the film would also focus on the history of farming in the region, as well as pre-European settlement days.

"I'm amazed at how much the land use has changed in the town, even in the last decade or so," he said.

"If I had the opportunity, I would really like to make a film all about dairying in Twizel. There are some really strong views about it from both sides, particularly from those older farming families who have worked the land for generations, while ecologists are concerned about the long-term effects on the environment."

There were aspects that Mr Wong found difficult, particularly choosing what aspects not to leave in, but ultimately, he said he was satisfied with the finished film.

"When I showed parts to my kids, they told me they had no idea how interesting the town's story was. So that's been a good test of how it's gone," he said.

Last updated 05:00 01/07/2011

Kiwi pork, Asian-style

A whole pig roasted the traditional Chinese way fed young men's and women's bodies, while speakers fired up their minds in Palmerston North.

The five-day New Zealand Chinese Association leadership and development conference was held at the Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute last week.

The pig, selected by Pioneer New World owner Darrin Wong, was prepared on Friday night.

After the bones were removed, the pig was wired to keep it together. Five spice, garlic and soy sauce were rubbed into the meat and left to marinate overnight.

The rain brought the roasting forward on Saturday and at times the men had to shield the flames with plastic.

With the temperature reaching 500 degrees Celsius in the double brick kiln built in Aokautere by JJ Chew in 1962, the pig was cooked in one hour and 15 minutes.

Shoulder meat was removed during preparation to ensure an even thickness. It was dangled into the flames on hooks – a process called char sui (fork roasted).

Twenty-four young Chinese delegates attended the conference, hosted by the Manawatu branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association.

The first conference was in 2007 but this is the first time it has been in Palmerston North.

The aim was to "create leaders that will shape our future".

Delegates had to be aged between 18 and 30 years and members of the association.

Applicants for the conference had to explain where they see themselves now and in five years time.

The live-in conference started each day at 7.30am with tai chi and ended after dinner with the men learning a dragon dance and the women a lantern dance.

Speakers included Gisborne mayor Meng Foon on tri-culturalism in New Zealand, Christchurch emergency physician Paul Gee on leadership in a crisis and for a cause and Stephen Young and Tony Thackery on the Chinese influence on New Zealand history.

Sheila Yeh said she found the history of Asian Kiwis interesting – her parents were born in China. The 20-year-old is in her third year of a bachelor of business studies at Massey, majoring in economics and finance.

It was also Aidan Wong's first conference. The 26-year-old Palmerston North accountant enjoyed the team work exercises and Rodney Wong's talk, because he could relate to the city businessman's life experiences.

Rodney Wong's talk was called "Business and future value planning, or if only I knew then what I know now".

Delegates split into groups to prepare a skit for a potential television advertisement to promote the association and to brainstorm ideas to increase the number of young members.

One group developed Wokc, Wellington Overseas and Kiwi Chinese.

They said the early 20s was a vulnerable age when people can become disconnected from the Chinese culture.

Aucklanders Joanna Wong and Kelly Wing had not been to Palmerston North before.

Miss Wong, 24, said the city was very green and she was surprised to see a block of shops, then turn a corner and see farmland.

She was used to eating pork that came in packets from the supermarket.

Miss Wing, 23, remarked how many trees Palmerston North had and said the city was bigger than she thought.

- © Fairfax NZ News
Last updated 11:34 18/01/2012

Goldsmith racks up top award with novel necklace

Proving that inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources, Wellington goldsmith Nigel Wong has won one of the jewellery industry's top awards with a design inspired by a towel rack.

Mr Wong took the fine jewellery section at the New Zealand Jewellery Show last week. His winning necklace, "X-tension", was modelled on a device he saw while his father-in-law was showing off his new camper van.

"He told me he had issues about placing his towel after his shower in such a confined space, and then he showed me this extendible shower towel rail and I was quite impressed by the mechanism."

A few weeks later when Mr Wong was working on a competition entry, he realised his initial design thoughts mirrored what he had seen.

The piece, on sale for $18,000, is a concertina style design in yellow and white gold, with 13 diamonds and a centrepiece of triangular green tourmaline.

True to its name, the piece is extendable, allowing the wearer to adjust the length.

"It has a lot of versatility," Mr Wong said. "If you have a low neckline dress, you can extend it down and if you want to wear it casually you can wear it closer to the neck."

It is the first time Mr Wong has won the fine jewellery section although he was a finalist in 2008. His employers, the Village Goldsmith, have a good track record in the competition. Colleague Karl Williams was a fellow finalist this year and another colleague, Nick Hensman, took the title last year.

"There's a little in-house rivalry here – although it's all friendly – to improve our levels of skills and design parameters," Mr Wong said.

He has been with Village Goldsmith for 12 years and goldsmithing for 30 years.

Meanwhile, Village Goldsmith is working to establish a global brand of designer diamond rings.

The collection, designed by owner Ian Douglas, was launched eight months ago after several years in development.

Mr Douglas described the rings as "almost architectural".

"They explore new techniques of holding diamonds and settings. They're done in such a way that they're nothing like traditional engagement rings."

The company was aiming to establish a chain of overseas distributors for the range. Talks were already under way with a small jewellery chain in Helsinki, he said.

Sales were doing well through its Auckland distributor.

The range will also show alongside a select group of exhibitors in the design gallery of the world's biggest jewellery fair in Hong Kong later this year.

Last updated 05:00 06/07/2010

Drug could have new use

Sufferers of a debilitating respiratory condition could get a boost in managing their illness.

Counties Manukau District Health Board is receiving $1.19 million over the next three years to trial a medication that could improve treatment for bronchiectasis, a long-term condition that affects a person's ability to breathe.

The Health Research Council awarded the funding as part of a wider $74m investment into health research.

Clinical head of respiratory Dr Conroy Wong is leading the trial of an inhaler now widely used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD.

With bronchiectasis irreversible damage can occur to the bronchi in the lungs for various reasons, he says.

"Patients don't have the normal defence mechanisms to clear mucus from their lungs, making them prone to recurrent infections and further damage.

"Any treatment we can assist with will be an improvement to any patient with bronchiecstasis."

In most developed countries the rate of bronchiectasis has declined over the years. But New Zealand's rates remain higher than in other developed countries and are even higher among Pacific and Maori children.

Dr Wong says a lack of evidence-based treatments for bronchiectasis means his study will set the agenda for treating the condition.

"Very few countries could do this study because it's not easy to get large enough numbers to get a trial that makes a difference,`" he says Dr Wong.

"If it is as effective as we believe it should be, we should see a marked reduction in flare-ups of the disease, which would reduce the number of hospital and GP visits and also less antibiotics for patients.

"So any treatment that we can do to reduce that will be of huge benefit to all patients with bronchiecstasis."

The study will trial tiotropium, an inhaler drug commonly used to open up the airways of emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers.

If the three-year trial is successful the evidence will make a viable case for Pharmac to fund the drug, Dr Wong says.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Last updated 08:45 09/08/2011

Conroy Wong
TREATMENT TESTING: Health board head of respiratory medicine Dr Conroy Wong's three-year study could change the way bronchiectasis patients are treated.

Audience with Wong enthrals

Alison Wong, Granary Festival Cafe. Saturday October 16. Reviewed by Jessica Le Bas.
Last updated 13:02 19/10/2010

Award-winning novelist/poet Alison Wong opened this year's Readers and Writers section of the Nelson Arts Festival in conversation with events organiser Jacquetta Bell.

The Granary was done out like a cosy lounge, a backdrop of lamps and bookshelves and armchairs, and Independent Bookshop of the Year, Page & Blackmore.

Wong is foremost a poet. Even her debut novel, As the Earth Turns Silver, reads like fine poetry. It won the 2010 NZ Post Book Award for Fiction, and is shortlisted in the Australian Prime Minister's Literary Award.

Wong's a petite, softly spoken woman of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hawke's Bay, and initially majored in mathematics. She talked about her life and her writing, entertaining and captivating her audience.

At a family reunion in the 1990s, Wong first heard that her great-grandfather was murdered in 1914 in his Wellington fruit and vege shop on Adelaide Rd. It was a gruesome crime, and never solved. It became the catalyst for her novel.

As the Earth Turns Silver took Wong 12 years to write, with a Stout Research Fellowship.

"When you write a novel you need to know how the people live, how they eat and cook and wash."

She used the exact geography, searching out the shop's deeds and plans. The rest she created.

"It's not my family's story."

Wong's audience was spellbound by the quiet, modest way she retold experiences of early Chinese immigrants.

"You get prejudice in so many different ways in all societies.

"There's always suspicion when people are different."

Novel writing is "excruciatingly difficult" for her.

"The concentration and stamina needed doesn't fit well with a normal life."

She's working on another novel, and laughed self-deprecatingly about the long process ahead of her.

Alison Wong was a warm and congenial and intelligent guest.
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- © Fairfax NZ News

Kerry Wong of Masterton

Kerry Wong takes out big Hokonui prize

Relative unknown fashion designer Kerry Wong of Masterton has taken out this year's Hokonui Fashion Design Awards' Award of Excellence.

Wong's collections section entry of three men's outfits took out the supreme prize before a capacity audience of 750 in Gore last night.

It was once again a gala occasion as heartland New Zealand put on the ritz to be wowed by 200 garments, from the sophistication of the nightlife section to the outlandish, as steampunk made its debut on the catwalk.

While Wong's win was a popular one, the designer may still be oblivious to his $12,000 prize package.

Awards director Heather Paterson said Wong was in Australia and attempts to contact him over the last two days had proved unsuccessful.

However, she had spoken to a brother so was hopeful the message had got through, she said.

Wong's garments, in shades of grey and black, were predominantly made of wool. They featured incredible detail and showed outstanding workmanship, Mrs Paterson said.

A collections section entry was responsible for honours in one of the other major awards of the night, the Young Designer Award, which went to Allison Brooks of Dunedin. The Best Southland Designer went to Gore woman Andre Tamblyn.

The debut of the secondary schools section was a resounding success with the creativity of the young designers a standout. The inaugural award of excellence when to Hasting's teenager Hayley Baston.

Detailed results:

Award of excellence: Kerry Wong, of Masterton.
Young Designer: Allison Brooks, of Dunedin.
Southland Designer: Andre Johnson, of Gore.
Knitted award: Helen Marshall, of Invercargill.
Best use of fabric: Eleni Kristea, of Upper Hutt.
Garment with the most commercial potential: Kristin Leitch, Maxine Woolridge and Samara Woolridge, of Auckland.
Streetwear: Angela Ward, of Hastings; runner up, Sarah Holmes, of Southbridge.
Denim: Andre Johnson, of Gore; runner up, Kristin Leitch, Maxine Woolridge and Samara Woolridge, of Auckland.
Wool: Kristin Leitch, Maxine Woolridge and Samara Woolridge, of Auckland; runner up Amanda Donaldson, of Christchurch.
Steampunk: Amanda Hasselman and Kate Scott, of Glenorchy; runner up Jeannie Dyer, of Leeston.
Collections: Kerry Wong, of Masterton; runner up, Eleni Kristea, of Upper Hutt.
Avante Garde: Kerrie Williams, of Motueka; runner up Hannah Shand, of Waikanae.
Menswear: Sarah Odering, Christchurch; runner up, James Bush, of Wellington.
Nightlife: Roberta Davids, of Christchurch; runner up, James Bush, of Wellington.
Secondary Schools Award of Excellence: Hayley Baston, of Hastings.
Steetwear: Gabrielle Sayer, of Rotorua.
Nightlife: Hayley Baston, of Hastings.
Steampunk: Tessa Knierum.
Avante Garde: Lauren Anderson, of Lower Hutt.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Last updated 00:53 31/07/2011

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

50,000 dumplings for Chinese New Year

Restaurant owner Chunlan Zhao has spent weeks preparing tasty treats for Chinese New Year.

Food stalls are a cutthroat business during festivities but she hopes her 50,000 dumplings will soothe people's cravings on Saturday.

It's Zhao's second year as a stallholder at the Auckland Chinese Community Centre's New Year market day at ASB Showgrounds and she is bringing back her dumplings by the dozens.

The north-east Chinese cuisine is a hit with ex-pats living in Auckland and a feature food of many Chinese celebrations.

The versatile dumplings are regarded as comfort fare in the cooler northern hemisphere winters.

They are traditionally eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

''The festival is not just about making money it's the fact that Kiwis are buying my dumplings and learning about Chinese culture that makes me really proud,'' Zhao says.

She has a team of seven staff making thousands of them each day in the lead-up to the festival.

The queen of dumplings was one of the first immigrants from China who came through the business migrant scheme.

Zhao spotted a gap in the market and has been running the Chinese King Dumpling Restaurant on New North Rd since 1999.

Her specialty dish is just one of hundreds of delicacies on show at the festival to help welcome the Year of the Dragon.

More than 200 stalls including food, arts and crafts, and community services will be offering a glimpse at all aspects of Chinese culture. Acrobatics, shadow puppet and songs, dance and music are also set to keep visitors entertained throughout the day.

The Chinese Community Centre has been running the new year celebrations for two decades and expects crowds of up to 20,000 people on Saturday.

''The dragon is an auspicious and very important symbol for Chinese, and the Year of Dragon is going to be a year that allows us to overcome challenges,'' chairman Arthur Loo says.

The Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day is a free community event at ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, on January 21 from 9.30am to 4pm.

- © Fairfax NZ News HANNAH SPYKSMA Last updated 05:00 18/01/2012


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sixth NZ Chinese leadership conference

Saturday, 7 January 2012, 4:04 pm
Press Release: NZCA

Sixth NZ Chinese leadership conference to be held in Palmerston North

New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) will hold its annual 5 day residential Leadership and Development Conference (LDC) from 11-15 January at the Massey University Rugby & Sport Institute in Palmerston North, challenging young people’s perceptions of what it means to be Chinese today.

Over five days, the 27 talented young Chinese between the ages of 18 and 30 will connect and discover their identity, potential, and place as Chinese in New Zealand and the world. The conference will deepen their outlook on life as they explore their relationship with culture, heritage, community and their leadership role.

“Those chosen will gain confidence, skills, and ideas that will enable them to grow and shape a future society that is strong, proud, and inclusive of their stories and communities,” says New Zealand Chinese Association President, Virginia Chong.

Designed as a storytelling event, NZCA LDC-2012 invites high-profile personalities of Chinese descent from across New Zealand to share their leadership journeys with the delegates. The programme also features a range of outdoor adventure activities, cultural immersion, group discussions, and a team leadership project.

The theme for 2012 is “Create Leaders that will shape our future”. This year’s presenters, drawn from the business, non-profit, and academic communities, include: Meng Foon (Mayor of Gisborne & NZ Rugby League board); Greg Tims (HR Guru); Dr Paul Gee (Christchurch Hospital Emergency department surgeon); Arthur Chin (Mindset Cultural Consultancy); Steven Young (ex-President NZCA & social commentator); Tony Thackery (member of Poll Tax Trust, solicitor at Opie & Dron); Rodney Wong (Stargate Investments); Sarah Yee (Opra).

Now in its sixth year, the conference is open to New Zealand born and overseas born Chinese. NZCA LDC receives support from Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust and the New Zealand Chinese Association.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Immigrant's view: Hong Kong

Bevan Chuang, 26, PA, Auckland. From Hong Kong, 11 years here.

"Like a lot of Hong Kong Chinese, we were desperately trying to get out of the country before the handover [from British to Chinese rule]. I went to Selwyn College in Auckland. I'm more proud of being Chinese now than when I was in Hong Kong. In New Zealand, suddenly you become a minority, and you're trying to find your identity.

"In Asian countries you're expected to achieve really well. Getting good grades is extremely important whereas here I had the freedom to be myself. "Because we don't have relatives here, we don't have to do the usual Sunday family things - go to yum cha, go shopping. I can take my dogs for a walk. That's something we couldn't have in Hong Kong - it's all apartments, all concrete.

"New Zealanders probably have an assumption that Asian women are relatively submissive, but Hong Kong women are famous for being too bolshie. Women have a bigger say in Hong Kong, they're able to work in high-level jobs whereas here not many women are managers or CEOs.

"A growing number of New Zealand men want to go out with Asian women. There's an exotic feeling to it and it's more acceptable for a white male to go out with a Chinese girl than vice-versa. A lot of Chinese women are quite westernised, and probably think white men think more similarly to them than Chinese men.

"My ex is a Pakeha from a small town in Hawke's Bay. He is very Kiwi. Although he got along quite well with my mother, and even my grandmother, there was still a cultural clash in the way we think.

"I'm a workaholic, he's more laid back. He wanted to go fishing on holidays, I wanted to do something more exciting, maybe go to work. I'm expected to live with my family until I get married, and to look after my elders. Here, kids are expected to have an independent life. I've had lots of arguments with my ex when I couldn't go out with him because I had to look after my grandmother.

"Asian culture is similar to Maori culture in understanding you are part of a collective world. More Asian people need to engage with Maori. When they see the similarities it's probably easier to settle here.

"People see Hong Kong as part of China, and we really want to distinguish ourselves from Mainland China. "Sometimes I don't respond when people ask where I come from? It pisses me off because it immediately puts you into a stereotype.

"And people think if you're Chinese you came from a poor village. I come from a fairly well-off background, I grew up with luxuries around me. "European countries love our products - look at how they steal Maori words and use them in commercials. We should make the most of what is uniquely New Zealand. "I like this place because it is so different. New Zealand is a place where I can stand out and grow. We can still try new things - technology, the creative arts, the way we deal with people."
By Nicola Shepheard By Nicola Shepheard
5:00 AM Sunday May 18, 2008

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Simple food top of the menu

A normal day for me begins before 5am so we can start preparing for what is usually a 12-hour working day.

My first task is to start up the ovens and begin making snacks like sandwiches and muffins. It's around 6am that we open the doors.

Our rush hour is lunchtime, traditionally 11.30am to 2pm, but the mornings can be very busy especially when everybody needs that all-important coffee before work.

My wife Ivy is the expert when it comes to the art of a good coffee so I'm usually in the kitchen out back preparing the meals.

The food we make is very straight-forward with eggs and bacon a popular choice with customers.

When I opened this business I tried to make the food fancy but quickly realised that people don't always want their breakfast or lunch to look extremely complicated. At the end of the day an egg is an egg no matter how you try to smarten it up.

I am originally from southern China where I worked as a chef in Chinese cuisine. I moved to New Zealand about 10 years ago to do a chef's course at AUT and worked at various restaurants.

It was about five years ago that we bought this lunch bar.

The one thing I enjoy about running a small business is getting to know people from all different walks of life; It just makes the job more enjoyable. We have our regulars – neighbours from nearby businesses and also the kids at the two schools who are always coming in for breakfast or lunch.

You really have to find a balance with business and friendship if you want to be happy in your job.

We have and it is great because you do feel part of a small community.

Around 2.30pm we begin the clean-up process and the shop is shut after 3.30pm.

We then go shopping and begin the preparation for the next day.

When we do get home I enjoy a quiet glass of red wine and spending valuable time with my son.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Last updated 12:00 12/01/2012

BUSY LIVES: Ivy and Vince Li operate the Get Fed lunch bar in Henderson.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Desperately seeking dragon baby

5:30 AM Saturday Jan 14, 2012

Bevan Chuang is seeking a sperm donor to help her make a 'dragon baby' this year. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Bevan Chuang, 30, is desperate to have a "dragon baby" - and she's determined not to let the fact that she doesn't yet have a partner hinder her plans.

The Hong Kong-born Auckland Council ethnic panel board member, who has the blessings of her mother, is seeking a donor to give her a child through artificial insemination.

Many Chinese consider the Year of the Dragon to be the most auspicious year to have a child. Those born under the sign of the dragon - the fifth, and the mightiest of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs - are said to be outstanding, driven, independent and destined for success.

Miss Chuang, who is born under the rooster sign, believes a dragon child will also be "perfect match" as the two zodiac signs are said to be most compatible.

"Waiting for a full cycle, or another 12 years, is not an option because I'd be 42 by then," she said.

Others, like Malaysian-born Dawn Chong, who is three months pregnant, said she was happy to be in New Zealand to be delivering her child.

"My pregnant friends in Malaysia say it's just crazy over there," said Ms Chong, originally from Petaling Jaya.

"They are finding it hard to get pre-natal checks because even the doctors and nurses are themselves preparing to go on maternity leave to have their own dragon babies."

Chinese media reported that dragon babies are expected to set a new birth record in China, where many hospitals have been booked until August and fees for post-natal caretakers have taken a drastic rise.

Feng shui practitioner Janet Chan said no other zodiac sign could be compared to the status of the dragon, which symbolised power, strength and good luck.

She said the Emperor of China also used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power.

"Emperors are believed to be no ordinary humans who rule the kingdom with the blessings of the dragon," Mrs Chan said. "Many parents believe that babies born in the Dragon Year will also enjoy this same stamp of royalty and blessings."

She said some would also name their children dragon, or Long in Mandarin, believing it would add "power and balance" to their lives.

People who have dragon in their names include kung fu star Bruce Lee (Li Xiao Long) and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mrs Chan said there would definitely be a spike in the number of Chinese mothers in New Zealand giving birth, but did not believe the numbers were large enough to affect hospitals or the health system.

As determined by the lunar calendar, the first day of the Year of the Dragon falls on January 23 and will run until February 9, 2013.

Auckland Chinese Community Centre, which has been hosting the annual Chinese New Year festival for over 20 years and saw 20,000 attend its event at the ASB Showgrounds last year, said it expected an even larger crowd next Saturday.

A highlight at the event kicking off the New Year celebrations is an acrobatic, shadow puppet and musical troupe from Gansu, China.

Dragon and lion dances, and the use of gongs, drums and cymbals, will also be a feature as it is believed the loud noise will dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

Many Chinese believe housework could wash away good luck, and some would even avoid washing their hair on Chinese New Year.

The celebrations
(Year of the Dragon starts Monday, January 23)

Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day: ASB Showgrounds, Saturday, January 21, 9.30am to 4pm.

LunarFest 2012: TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, Saturday, January 21, 3pm to 11pm.

Chinese and Korean New Year Festival: Northcote Central, January 27 and 28.

Auckland Lantern Festival: Albert Park, February 3 to 5, from 5pm nightly.

Dragon characteristics
Innovative, enterprising, self-assured, brave, passionate but conceited and quick-tempered.

Dragon people
Bruce Lee, Russell Crowe, Joan of Arc, John Lennon, Al Pacino, Nicolas Cage, Sandra Bullock and Shirley Temple.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tai chi master a 'living treasure'

When Loo-Chi Hu left China in 1948, he did not think it would be for ever.

However, 60 years later, 83-year-old Hu considers himself more Kiwi than Chinese.

Hu's life, which has seen him rescue stricken sailors and become a world authority on tai chi, is the subject of a documentary at this year's International Film Festival.

The Christchurch man is a reluctant film star.

"I actually I don't like it. Why should I publish myself?" said Hu at his Phillipstown home.

Hu left China in 1948 and travelled to Taiwan to work in the fishing industry. While Hu was away, Mao Zedong came to power in China and his father advised him to stay away.

It was not until 1995 that Hu was able to return.

In 1970, Hu helped rescue Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl during his crossing from Morocco to Barbados in a ship built from reeds.

"In Barbados they cannot find it. Lost," said Hu.

"So United Nations asked me to go and help them. There was nobody else. Looking for the boat lost on the ocean is very difficult. I know they came from Morocco so I know where they are from and where they end, and so I searched between them."

Hu located Heyerdahl after four days and three nightsand guided him into Bridgetown.

After settling in New Zealand in the early 1970s, Hu designed commercial equipment for the then Marine Department. As a ship master, he worked on navigation and fishing gear for the New Zealand fishing industry.

Hu's expertise in fishing was only one string to his bow.

He has been teaching tai chi in Christchurch since 1971. In 1988, his pupils established the New Zealand National Tai Chi Chuan Association.

"Tai chi is not just a physical exercise, it is a mental exercise," said Hu.

"Before I learned tai chi, I learned the hard martial art and with the hard martial art your behaviour is hot and you sometimes fight with people. My father advised me to practise tai chi, and since I have never got in a fight."

In 2003, he released a DVD teaching people how to practise the art. He still has a 6am tai chi session every day and teaches students in a shed next to his house.

The documentary, called Huloo, Hu's nickname, features interviews with Hu and people he has influenced.

Wellington-based director and co-producer Robin Greenberg is a former tai chi student of Hu's.

"I hope people will find it as interesting and amazing, as I have," said Greenberg. "His life and career have been extraordinary. I feel he is a living treasure."
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The film will screen at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Wellington and Christchurch in mid-July.

- © Fairfax NZ News Last updated 00:20 28/05/2008

Renee Liang: My sister, the film maker

By Renee Liang
7:00 AM Thursday Mar 24, 2011

Renee Liang reflects on having her and her family's stories fictionalised in her sister Roseanne's debut feature, My Wedding and Other Secrets.
Top, Dr Renee Liang reflects on the very personal story and experiences of growing up that led to her sister creating My Wedding and Other Secrets. Photo / Supplied
Top, Dr Renee Liang reflects on the very personal story and experiences of growing up that led to her sister creating My Wedding and Other Secrets. Photo / Supplied

From the age of 7, I knew the power of stories. My mother (to get a break, I realise now) packed us off for a nap every afternoon. We feigned sleep. Then, when the sound of her feet had faded safely from the corridor, I began. Rhea, one year younger, and Roseanne, the baby, snuggled up as I recounted alien adventures, rescues and random battles with light sabres - all starring us, of course. Roseanne, at age 2, was remarkably sentient, though I don't remember her saying much. She was a great listener, so long as I mentioned her in the story every now and then. The one disadvantage was that she liked to suck items of clothing as we slept, and more than once Rhea and I woke up to find our socks dripping wet.

We grew up of course, and through my teenage years I more or less ignored her as a short, somewhat intrusive being in my life. (She started talking a lot.) I think I was at university when I noticed her again. She'd started drawing. Fantastical aliens with pot bellies and blobby heads appeared on bits of paper. She also pinched out dragons from polymer clay, baking them in the oven when my mother was out. They were quite good. We asked her what she wanted to be. "A doctor," she replied.


"Cos everyone in the family is. I won't be able to understand you when you talk."

As a second choice, she admitted that she'd thought about being an animator. "Making stories. That might be cool," she said.

Time moved on. Roseanne worked her ass off in 7th form. She was dux. She learned she'd got into medical school. We harangued her through the summer months. Our friends, who didn't know her rang up and harangued her too. "You don't want to do medicine. Trust us, we're doing it."

No doubt she saw our persuasive wisdom, for she deferred her place and started a Bachelor of Arts and Science, graduating eventually with a Master of Creative and Performing Arts. The rest, as they say, is history.

Last week my sister, Roseanne Liang, released her first feature film, My Wedding and Other Secrets. It's a highly personal film - and quite a personal story for me too.

The original story goes something like this. Girl meets boy. Girl falls for boy and vice versa. Girl keeps relationship a secret from parents because she's worried how he might be received. Girl eventually breaks up with boy. Boy dies in a freakish accident of fate.

It doesn't sound like the synopsis you've read? No. That's because that's my story. And it's portrayed in the film as well, although not exactly the way it happened. More on that later. Anyway. Roseanne's real-life story had a far happier ending. If you don't know it already, watch the film. Because although it's a fiction, it's also very much a true story.

As adults, Roseanne and I have a tight relationship. We're close as sisters, but we're also close as fellow artists. She's a filmmaker, I'm a writer. We're both still figuring out things about stories. And we both draw on one of the most powerful type of stories - those about family - as material.

Although it's about love, My Wedding and Other Secrets is not the light romantic comedy that its marketing would have you believe. It's quirky, yes, and you'll laugh. But when I went to watch the screening, I snotted all over my face just like that infamous scene in the documentary the movie was based on, Banana in a Nutshell. Bring tissues, because this one might get you.

This is what I think the film is: a love letter to my parents. Because making a film is how my sister communicates. Making a film is how she tells them she loves them.

I'm crying as I write this, because learning to communicate with my parents has been one of the hardest things I've had to learn growing up - and I still feel as if I'm at a junior level. Not communicating with my parents meant that someone I loved died without being given the chance to be accepted by my family. And communicating is the task that hungrily, drivingly, bullishly at times, my sister set out to achieve.

I know there are some in the Chinese community who feel that telling such a personal story in public is wrong. When we were growing up my mum often taught us to put our heads down and keep quiet, even if something was unfair. There was a sense that, as newcomers and readily identifiable "outsiders", we should try to stay invisible. "Keep quiet and they'll let you get on with it" seemed to be the sentiment. It was not done to "hang your dirty laundry in public", no matter what the source of the dirt. And though sentiments have indeed changed as more of us find our strident Kiwi voices (after all, we were born here), my sister has endured walkouts, anonymous emails and insults so violent she had to talk to police. When these failed to provoke a reaction, the people she loved were taunted, or hurt in other ways. We have learned the downside of telling our stories. I hasten to add that there are many others who support us and go a long way to do so.

The thing is that any story, once told, becomes the truth and that is why people are so careful about the stories they tell. One could argue (forgive the writer's bias) that we are all made up of a collection of stories. In my sister's case, the need to tell her story, to have it understood, makes her both vulnerable and strong.

Communicating is important to her. You can see it in the film as her main character Emily tries and tries again to say how much she loves her mother. She stuffs up but she tries again (there's a strong gene for stubbornness in my family). Eventually, she learns to do, not say. It turns out that's how my parents have always told us they loved us. We were just too stubborn to listen.

I admit we all had our worries about the film. Aside from the community reaction, I worried about scraping open a wound that had only recently healed (by falling in love again). I want to say here that Roseanne has always been more than respectful whenever she's touched my story. Initially I was fiercely protective. I baulked when she and her co-writer Angeline wondered if they should merge mine and Rhea's stories into a single character. ("But I can't be married to Brad!" I protested.) But as a writer, I also knew the teaching that whatever you write must serve the story.

But is that really true? Who must the storyteller ultimately answer to? Herself? The subjects of the story? The community the story comes from? The audience she aims to connect with? These things are not clearcut, and there's no right answer. My sister decided that remaining true to herself was what this film demanded, and part of my tears on watching the film came because I saw that struggle. The documentary worked because it was so raw and honest. The film, although fictional, maintains that quality.

While the film was being shot, I spent time with my "pretend family" - board games, trips to the Lantern festival, "family" dinners. We all felt the absurdity of it. We felt close, and also quite strange. No one tells you this, but when a film deals with such recent history, the dividing line between fact and fiction doesn't stay still. Halfway through the filming my sister realised Michelle Ang (who plays Emily) was taking on her mannerisms, and she was taking on Michelle's. Little slips with names betrayed the cast and crew's confusion.

In making reality fiction, often the details are betrayed. I made exactly the opposite choice that my doppelganger, "Susan", makes in the film. I found the portrayal of my ex-partner two-dimensional - he was so much more complex than that. But then, my writer's brain forgives, even as my emotional brain worries that people might think it was the real story. My writer's brain argues that it's my sister's story and we are necessarily the side characters. Everyone tells history from a different point of view.

In the small moments I spent with my fake sisters - Michelle Ang, Celeste Wong and Kat Wong - I felt we could have grown up together. When we compared stories, some were quite similar. I think the power of any family story is its universality, and I'm hoping people will go the film, not because it's a Chinese story or even a Kiwi Chinese story, but because it's the story of a daughter wanting to express her love.

My sister has taken a family story - our family story - and unfurled our hearts to the world. In doing so, she has placed us at risk. But I'm proud of her. Proud that my sister is a filmmaker, and that she makes films worth watching.

*My Wedding and Other Secrets is at cinemas now. Dr Renee Liang is a paediatrician , published poet, playwright and short-story writer.
By Renee Liang

Matt Whelan and Michelle Ang make an odd but happy couple. Photo / Supplied Movie Review: My Wedding and Other Secrets

"While Ang is typically cast in confident, sexy roles, Liang says she had noticed a nerdy persuasion which reminded her of herself."
Jacqueline Smith; My big secret Chinese wedding

Chinese memories inspire award winner

Friday, 2 December 2011, 4:52 pm
Press Release: Auckland University

As a child Yumian (Dino) Chai moved around a lot. He lived in different cities in China, moved to Christchurch, and finally ended up in Auckland.

These early experiences were a catalyst for The University of Auckland Architecture student’s winning entry in this year’s AAA Cavalier Bremworth Unbuilt Architecture Awards entitled 100 Rooms of Solitude.

Dino won first place in the student section with his work that featured 100 tiny models representing 100 days of memories.

The 26-year-old Mt Eden-based masters student found inspiration while travelling from his flat to University each day.

A fence could trigger memories of a garden from his past and Chai used these longings for other places as his basis for each model. For 100 days he constructed his models using whatever he had to hand.

The judges described the work as “an intelligent, experimental, poetic, universal, endlessly inventive, delicate and sensitive project that fully expressed the potential of the award and demonstrated a maturity that stood out”.

Chai, who won $3,000 with his entry, hopes to have a long career in architecture. While he is keen to tackle any project, he’s interested in domestic buildings because he believes it is the form most people have contact with.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

NZ-born Chinese man keeps in touch with his cultural origins

He was born in Wellington, but Robert Ting was determined not to forget his Chinese roots.

Mr Ting, 71, of Newlands, has been involved in Wellington's Chinese community for more than 50 years.

This year he received a Queen's Service Medal for his efforts.

"A group of guys nominated me, behind my back of course, and it came out of the blue. I was quite happy to accept it but there are lots of other members of the community who don't seem to get recognised."

Mr Ting is treasurer of the Tung Jung Association, founded in 1926 by immigrants from Southern China. He is the honorary auditor for both the New Zealand and Wellington Chinese associations.

His grandfather came out to New Zealand in the goldrush days. It was a time when Chinese people were discriminated against, paying a "poll tax" to the government on the basis of their nationality.

From 1881 until 1944, Chinese entering New Zealand were legally required to pay the tax – initially 10 but eventually 100. No other nationalities had to pay the tax.

Chinese were also denied the right to naturalisation for more than 40 years.

In 2002, the prime minister at the time, Helen Clark, apologised to the Chinese community for the poll tax, which she said had caused a lot of hardship.

Mr Ting said a strong Chinese community had remained in Wellington since those early days. He was determined his children would not forget their roots, and remembered many years of happy involvement with the Wellington Chinese Sports and Cultural Centre. "We used to have a lot of fundraising evenings. I wasn't too adept at cooking, but I'd go along and help with the dishes, or put some decorations up." This is a series on lesser-known recipients of New Year honours.

Last updated 05:00 03/01/2012

Monday, January 02, 2012

The kiwi and the dragon

By Simon Collins
5:30 AM Saturday Apr 9, 2011
In some ways, Chinese influence in New Zealand has grown faster and more strongly than anywhere else in the world.
In a special Herald series over the next week we look at what that means for this country.
Today, Simon Collins gives an overview of the impact of China on New Zealand's economic and cultural landscape.

Some time in the late 1990s, Tina Peters looked out of her car at an intersection and realised that almost all the other faces she could see were Asian.

Tina, a nurse, moved with her family from Papatoetoe to the fast-growing Botany area 12 years ago. Suddenly their ethnic landscape switched from the traditional Kiwi mix of European and Polynesian to include a surprising number of Chinese.

"With our children there has been that period of confusion, of bewilderment, for a little while of absolute fear thinking, 'I don't understand this'," she said at a pot-luck dinner at a Chinese neighbour's home on Neighbours Day last month.

"I didn't know how to communicate. You are missing the communication, and then there's that fear of, 'Oh my God, is my country disappearing?"'

New Zealand's ethnic Chinese population jumped more than seven-fold in the 20 years to the 2006 census, from 19,600 to 147,600.

In Auckland it rose almost 10-fold, from 10,500 to 97,400. Parts of Botany, Epsom and New Lynn are now more than 30 per cent Chinese.

Sociologist Paul Spoonley says the scale of this ethnic transformation, like the scale of New Zealand economic reforms in the same period, was unparalleled globally.

"The mix in Canada and Australia is almost identical, but they had much larger Chinese populations to start with," he says.

And of course this local ethnic change came just as the Chinese homeland burst on to the world stage. Two decades ago, even including Hong Kong, China produced only 2 per cent of global output and ranked 11th in the world. Last year, with 9 per cent of world output, it passed Japan to become the second-biggest economy on Earth.

Three years this week after signing a landmark free trade deal, China has already surpassed the US as New Zealand's biggest trading partner outside Australasia for both exports and imports, our leading source of international students, our second-biggest source of immigrants after Britain, and our fourth-biggest source of tourists.

Over the next week the Herald will report on how these dramatic shifts are transforming our economy and our society. In some respects Chinese influence has grown more strongly here than in any other country outside Asia.

Economically, our exports to China have leapt ahead through the past three years from just under $2 billion to $5 billion a year, when even Australia's exports to China only just more than doubled and China's overall imports stuttered through the global recession.

Dairy exports have quadrupled from $450 million to $1.9 billion. China is now by far our biggest dairy customer and the main driver behind recent record dairy prices.

Fonterra China managing director Philip Turner says this is only partly because of the scandal with melamine-contaminated Chinese-made milk which killed at least six babies in 2008, turning more sophisticated consumers towards imported milk.

"To a large extent this is simply demand exceeding supply," he says. Although Chinese milk production has grown exponentially from 6000 tonnes to 35,000 in the past decade, demand has grown even faster. Fonterra now supplies 5 per cent of the Chinese market.

Wood exports have quadrupled too, from $240 million to $1 billion a year since 2007. Timber Industry Federation head Brent Coffey says most of this is raw logs to feed China's property boom.

Our imports from China have grown rather less quickly because of our recession, from $5.6 billion to $6.9 billion. But the longer-term shift from costly local production to cheap Chinese imports, played out in extreme form here since import protection was largely abolished in the 1980s, has seen dramatic falls in the prices of clothing, footwear, toys and homeware.

Arguably, despite the loss of jobs in formerly protected industries, these cheap Chinese imports have made us all better off - at least in the short term.

"For 15 years up to 2007-08, the world enjoyed very stable prices and abundant capital with resulting cheap interest rates, and both of those things were very largely China's doing," says economist Srikanta Chatterjee.

"The Chinese effectively said: we'll lend you the money to buy these goods; therefore we had low interest rates. That is the very great advantage that we enjoyed."

This may not last. As China's own wages and living standards rise, its massive surpluses may diminish and it may have less surplus capital to lend.

The rest of the world will then need to either cut spending or raise output to live within our means.

China's abundant capital helped whiteware giant Haier buy a 20 per cent stake in Fisher & Paykel Appliances two years ago. Another Chinese company, Agria, is bidding for 50.01 per cent of our leading farm service firm, PGG Wrightson.

Overall Chinese investment is still minuscule at $5.6 billion or less than 2 per cent of total foreign investment. But the Chinese company Natural Dairy's failed bid for the 16 Crafar family dairy farms shows that Chinese investors are looking for opportunities in food and other natural resources.

Still a highly controlled society, China was slow to open up overseas travel. New Zealand and Australia became the first countries outside Asia to get "approved destination status"; this was only in 1999.

Total outbound travellers from China more than quintupled worldwide in the past decade to 56 million last year. The numbers going to both Australia and New Zealand almost quadrupled to 454,000 for Australia and 123,000 for New Zealand, propelling China into fourth place for visitors to both countries, behind each other, Britain and the US.

Today's launch of three weekly China Southern Airlines flights between Guangzhou (Canton) and Auckland adds capacity for an extra 25,000 visitors.

The airline already flies to Sydney and Melbourne, added Brisbane last November and plans 50 flights a week to six Australian cities by 2013.

There has also been an explosion in the numbers of Chinese students abroad. Visas for new Chinese fee-paying students here leapt from just 46 in 1998-99 to almost 20,000 in 2001-02, lifting the numbers here to a peak of 56,000 in 2003.

Anatole Bogatski, who was the Auckland Chamber of Commerce's international manager at the time and later established his own language school, says New Zealand was the first country to abandon quotas on Chinese students.

"We had a very low bar to cross and relatively easy immigration rules on converting their student visa into permanent residence," he says.

The boom collapsed almost as quickly as it occurred, when Education Minister Trevor Mallard made students prove that they could pay their future course fees and living costs.

Two language schools, Carich and Modern Age, closed in 2004 leaving students stranded.

New Chinese student visas plunged to under 2500 in 2005-06 before climbing back to a modest 4700 last year. Total Chinese fee-paying students have stabilised at around 21,000, or 22 per cent of all international students.

This reversal is purely a New Zealand story, as Chinese students studying overseas kept rising worldwide from under 300,000 in 2003 to almost 1.3 million last year. In Australia they increased from 48,000 in 2002 to 168,000 last year.

More broadly, like India, Europe and more recently New Zealand, China has long had a sizeable diaspora of citizens who have left to seek better lives elsewhere.

Apart from a handful of 19th century gold miners, New Zealand barred its doors to those migrants by denying permits to non-British citizens with few exceptions right up to 1987, when the policy changed to seek skilled people and rich "business investors" from anywhere.

The change came just as Britain was preparing to hand Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong's elite sought refuge abroad - 380,000 went to Canada alone between 1980 and 2001, and 25,400 arrived in New Zealand as permanent or long-term migrants in the decade up to 1997.

A similar exodus from Taiwan brought almost 20,000 migrants to New Zealand in the same period. And then, just as many of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese migrants actually started going home again from all countries, China's 1999 relaxation of travel restrictions sparked a new outflow from China itself. Chinese permanent and long-term arrivals here jumped from 3500 in 1999 to 16,000 in 2002.

This new influx was dominated by students and their families, and fell away again as the student boom collapsed. By last year China, including Hong Kong, was back down to only our third-biggest net source of immigrants behind India and Britain.

But the net effect of the two waves of immigrants was to lift the total ethnic Chinese share of New Zealand's population to 3.7 per cent by the 2006 census, the second-highest in the OECD behind Canada (3.9 per cent) and ahead of Australia (3.2 per cent). The 1.9 per cent of our population born in mainland China is higher than for any other OECD country.

Like all modern migrants, the Chinese are mobile. A fifth of all the Chinese approved for residence in the six years to 2009, and 40 per cent of the Taiwanese, had been absent for at least six months as at last June, compared with 14 per cent of migrants from Britain.

A 2007-09 study by Asian studies professor Manying Ip found that two-thirds of ethnic Chinese NZ citizens or permanent residents still identified only with their home country, and most of the rest identified with both countries. Only four out of 78 identified solely with New Zealand.

She found that many families alternated between their homelands and New Zealand or Australia, often getting educated here, returning to China or Hong Kong to work or to care for ageing parents, then coming back to New Zealand for their own children's education.

"The new Chinese migrants are astute and wish to keep all options open," she says.

Joe and Marianne Noma, an older Chinese couple at the Neighbours Day gathering in Botany, originally migrated to Melbourne in 1985 and still have a home there as well as in Auckland. Their son works with them in their property development business here, but their daughter is in Melbourne and they may go back there.

But Lisa Chu, who came here with her parents when she was 6 in 1986, may stay here with her Malay/European/Maori fiance, engineer Shariman Saad. She wants her future children to learn Chinese, but regards herself as a "Kiwi".

Their Neighbours Day host, Pastor Samuel Chong, who brought his family here from Malaysia eight years ago, says he has committed his life to New Zealand but is also proudly Chinese. "When I received the citizenship certificate they said, in a letter, you don't have to put down your own culture," he says. "It's so kind."

Chong says their Botany street has five Chinese families, four from Korea, two from India, a Filipino and about 20 Europeans.

Twelve years on, Tina Peters has become used to the changes.

"When we moved from where we were and came up here we started being that little bit more integrated and talking to everyone and having a bit more courage - well, this is how it is, we'd better start talking to people," she says.

Her husband John, who works with Chinese colleagues as a scientist at Middlemore Hospital, says the change "has not been negative at all".

"We have learned about the food and different cultures," he says.

When their daughter graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree at Auckland University about eight years ago, almost all her fellow graduates were Chinese. She and her husband now live in Singapore and plan to teach their children both Chinese and Japanese to equip them for the modern world.

Gradually our culture is changing. Saad and Chu buy takeaways from a variety of countries and enjoy Saturday night markets at the Pakuranga shopping centre. "It's Chinatown," Saad says.

Chinese businesses have sprung up in growing suburbs such as Botany and Albany, and have revitalised older parts of Auckland such as Dominion Rd and Northcote.

Tina Peters says Hong Kong and Taiwanese investors drove up local house prices in the 1990s.

"Every time we went to buy a house we were vying with five or six Chinese families," she says.

"We would put in an offer and they would just go over the top. Then you find out they had bought three of them. Of course house prices just went whoosh."

But the migrant investors were less noticeable by the time Saad and Chu bought their house four years ago. Indeed as a developer, Joe Noma believes Chinese builders are holding down new housing costs.

"We sell [building sites] to builders. In the last two years virtually 80 to 90 per cent are bought by Chinese builders," he says.

"They work hard. They work on Sunday, they work late in the evening. There's no such thing as 9 to 5."

But Dave Brown, who represents Auckland on the Certified Builders Association board, believes Chinese builders predominate only in the Botany/Dannemora area where many of the developers are also Chinese.

"They are prepared to work hard and are pretty competitive," he says. "But I'll stick my neck out and say I don't think they are taking work off New Zealand guys."

Hard-working Chinese students are changing the culture in our schools too. In 2009, 8.7 per cent of Asians who passed level 3 NCEA achieved with excellence, compared to 5.3 per cent of Europeans, 1.5 per cent of Maori and 0.5 per cent of Pacific students.

The Rev Stuart Vogel of the Auckland Chinese Presbyterian Church recalls resentment in the early years when Chinese students started "sweeping all the prizes" at his children's school, Mt Roskill Grammar. "Then people came to realise that they do the work for it. If you want the prize you have to do the work," he says.

At Auckland University, Ip says her students now work much harder than when she started teaching there in 1982 - due to course fees and a tougher job market as well as Chinese rivals.

"It was much more relaxed at that time, students negotiated about deadlines," she says. "That would not be allowed now."

In much the same way, Chinese preferences for apartment living and for large houses on small sections have contributed, along with rising land prices, to the shrinkage of the Kiwi quarter-acre section.

"Most of us are from the city and we don't know gardening," explains Pastor Chong.

The immigrants have helped expand public transport. Asians accounted for 82 per cent of the increased use of buses and trains by Aucklanders commuting to work between the 1991 and 2006 censuses. The census does not count journeys for study, but a glance into almost any term-time bus into central Auckland shows the effect of Asian students.

Of course Asian migrants have added to road traffic too, accounting for 38 per cent of Auckland's increased commuting to work by car between 1991 and 2006. Nationally, Transport Ministry figures show Asian drivers were involved in 9 per cent of all crashes in 2009, exactly equal to their share of the population.

Although many migrants are still not working in the fields where they qualified, some are breaking into the professions. Just over 5 per cent of our medical doctors are Chinese.

Local-born Chinese writers such as 2010 NZ Post Book Awards winner Alison Wong and film-maker Roseanne Liang have won recognition in mainstream Kiwi culture, and Chinese faces are now taken for granted on the TV news and in popular shows such as Masterchef.

It has been harder going in politics, with Labour's list MP Raymond Huo the sole Chinese MP since Pansy Wong resigned last year. There are no Chinese on the new Auckland Council and only three out of 149 people on local boards: Peter Chan in Henderson-Massey, Lily Ho in Whau and Wayne Huang in Howick.

Arguably Pacific people were only really accepted as New Zealanders when rugby stars such as Michael Jones and Tana Umaga started playing for the All Blacks. The Chinese may never make the All Blacks but sport can still provide links into mainstream society, as Huang found in February when he got the Howick Local Board to sponsor a visiting Chinese martial arts group.

On the other hand, he could not get the board to write an invitation letter to an 800-strong group from a major Chinese steelmaker who wanted to visit here after a reward trip to Australia. They didn't come.

"We lose a lot of opportunities like that," he says. "They need respect. They need to feel welcome."

In Botany, Pastor Chong believes cross-cultural interaction will increase gradually.

"If we organise more lantern festivals and Chinese New Year celebrations, more Kiwis will come and join us and slowly the Kiwis will understand us," he says.

"But one thing they need to know is that the world is like a village. You can't stay by yourself - you need to accept anybody who comes to your doorstep."
By Simon Collins | Email Simon