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

No comments: