Friday, March 30, 2012

Nelson wraps up career with sale of chippery

After more than 40 years in the business, fish and chip shop owner and Balclutha stalwart Nelson Wong has retired.

Since selling the business in August, Mr Wong has finally taken some time for himself, after 45 years of being the heart and soul of the favourite fish and chip shop.

Mr Wong worked in Milton at his parents' greengrocer and fish and chip shop before moving to Balclutha to start his own business - Clutha Fish Supply.

The name changed to Wongy's Cod and Taties a few years ago, a marketing strategy which was embraced by its patrons who affectionately dubbed it "Wongys".

The Clyde St takeaway shop has changed over the years, but has never moved premises, with the biggest change seen in the menu, he said.

A North Islander by birth, Mr Wong first moved to Milton with his family, before buying the takeaway shop in Clyde St, Balclutha.

"Balclutha is a good location; a nice rural town in a nice rural area."

One of the best things about the shop was meeting a variety of people from Otago and Southland, New Zealand, and from overseas.

"I've made lots of friends and loyal customers from all over the place."

He and wife Jackie have five children - Angelina, Christiane, Dominique, Claudine, and Pierre - although only Pierre, the youngest, still lives at home. He is head boy at South Otago High School.

"It's been a family shop. All the kids grew up working there and we've run it together over the years," Mr Wong said.

He had made no major plans and enjoyed living in Balclutha.

"Now I'm the head gardener at home," he joked.

Balclutha real estate agent Stuart McElrea remembers working for Mr Wong after school when he was a teenager in the 1960s.

"In those days we'd have people from the freezing works come in and open a sack of oysters in the evening for a bit more money. Nelson was always a good employer - we thought of him as a bit of a James Bond character as he had a gold Mark II Daimler V8 and he even let us travel with him in it."

The fish and chip shop had never changed and had become part of the community, he said.

"Nelson's a great member of the community, he was always there, and always involved."

Mr McElrea said he would always have fond memories of working at the shop, which had also employed two cousins.

A long-time friend of Nelson, real estate salesman Bryan Hayden said Mr Wong had contributed a lot to the Clutha district.

"He's supported and contributed to the community from behind the scenes. Nelson's a very modest and caring man who has always been there for others."

- By Helena de Reus on Mon, 3 Oct 2011
fter being caught out by an unexpected spike in Asian visitors during last year's Chinese New Year celebrations, Queenstown tourism providers and retailers are better prepared this year.

The usually week-long celebration, equivalent to Western Christmas and new year festivities, means people book holidays either side of public holidays, making January 23 to 29 the most significant travel week for the Chinese and Asian market.

Today marks the start of the celebrations, which are observed not only in China, but also in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan and by ethnic Chinese all over the world.

i-SITE visitor centre manager Matt Wong is better placed than most in Queenstown to ascertain the number of Chinese New Year visitors, which he says has steadily increased over the past few years.

"Five years ago, you wouldn't even have thought about it, but now it's a big chance for us," Mr Wong said.

"I certainly expect to see it increase on last year as it's continuing to grow."

Queenstown's accessibility has improved with China Southern Airlines' Guangzhou-Auckland flights, Air Asia X flights from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch and Jetstar's Singapore-to-Auckland service.

Already, holiday visitors are beginning to arrive, with operators such as Skyline reporting packed dinner services and businesses around town putting up posters emblazoned with the Chinese characters for "Happy New Year".

"By all accounts the hotels are actually benefiting as well, reporting capacity and numbers which are higher than usual," Mr Wong said.

He said i-SITE staff had been upskilling to learn how best to deal with Chinese visitors, a rapidly growing market, not just over the Chinese New Year period but throughout the year.

"Language is a huge part of it ... but it's more understanding that you need to build the trust before you can build the sales."

Bonz Gallery, in the Queenstown Mall, is another business making sure it is ready to deal with the shifting market and the new year influx, Bonz Group New Zealand managing director Bonnie Rodwell says.

The gallery, which sells New Zealand arts and crafts, was taken by surprise last year.

"It was our first Chinese New Year and we weren't ready for it, but the turnover went through the roof," Ms Rodwell said.

"We only wish it was Chinese New Year every day as we don't do this well over the entire year, just in small parts, so we are very excited."

The once predominantly Japanese market had shrunk and the gallery had employed two Chinese staff, with other staff required to learn three new Chinese words a week, she said.

However, like Mr Wong, Ms Rodwell said it took staff a while to learn how to deal with the Chinese style of negotiating sales.

"Bonz doesn't discount, so we have done a lot of research and spent a lot of time and energy on learning how to sell to a group of Chinese instead of watching them walk out the door." Her biggest one-off sale came last year when $38,000 of goods were bought by a Chinese actress, and greater revenue for businesses like hers "flowed on" to other businesses in the resort, she said.

She expected next year's Chinese New Year period would be "doubly busy" and hoped to have found a big red dragon by then to put in the front window of the gallery.

Ziptrek owner Trent Yeo is another Queenstown businessman who sees the importance of the period and the Chinese market - so much so he is learning Mandarin.

Mr Yeo is one of the members of the Destination Queenstown group heading to Shen Zhen, Guangdong Province in March to further promote the Southern Lakes as a travel destination.

With China and India now "the big movers and shakers" in the travel market, it was important for businesses to learn about the Chinese market, not only because of the increase in visitors "but due to the big outbound market as well".

In keeping with this, Mr Yeo and another Queenstown operator are planning a "post-mission mission".

"We are going to go inland into the mountains, way out into the regions, and get a better feel of the different traditions, which is as exciting for us as the Chinese coming here."

While he needed "a Chinatown" to be able to find proper Chinese New Year decorations, he has come up with a different way to celebrate - half-price Ziptrek tickets for anyone born in the Year of the Dragon.

A Chinese restaurateur in Queenstown, who did not wish to be named, said there was always a peak in business during the Chinese New Year period.

"With Chinese New Year people just want Chinese food; it's just like your Christmas with Turkey."

Better prepared for New Year

By Joe Dodgshun on Mon, 23 Jan 2012

Chinese visitors keep resort busy

Queenstown businesses reported an increase in the number of Chinese visitors last week and early this week, as the resort experienced a "record Chinese New Year".

The week-long celebration, equivalent to Western Christmas and New Year festivities and the most significant travel week for the Chinese and Asian market, started last Monday.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt was impressed to see so many Chinese visitors in town and said a broad base of DQ member businesses had reported "significantly increased Chinese business".

"It's pretty pleasing to see places like the holiday parks and adventure activities also benefited," Mr Everitt said.

"It shows that not only are we getting the package tourists, but independent Chinese travellers, who are prepared to try something a bit more adventurous."

Visitor centre manager Matt Wong, who, like many businesses, decorated his office windows with DQ's "Happy Chinese New Year" signs, said the response was overwhelming.

"Even having those signs up was enough to attract visitors into the store and sitting on the desk with all these people asking me if I speak Chinese was quite funny."

He and another staff member have since signed up for lessons.

He said walking the streets of Queenstown last week was reminiscent of the days of the Japanese tourist boom, albeit with visitors from China and other Asian countries.

"One thing I noticed was a lot of people coming from Auckland and Australia, and in particular, young people living abroad, who bought their families over here from China on holiday."

Skyline also reported a large number of Chinese visitors during the week, and general manager Lindon Thomas said almost all of last week's dinner services were packed.

"Last week was just really busy with Chinese and Japanese guests, and I think each night was sold out for dinner," Mr Thomas said.

"With two sittings and 250 people in each sitting, these are some decent numbers."

Bonz Gallery and Bonz Group New Zealand managing director Bonnie Rodwell said the numbers experienced were similar to last year, but remained high after Chinese New Year.

Ms Rodwell thought the key to growing the new year market was to focus on keeping the visitors here for longer, and said the store was definitely better prepared for their arrival this year.

"It was much easier this year .. they thought it was very funny us trying to speak Mandarin, but we were trying ..."

When asked if there was any possibility of festivities next year, Mr Everitt said Queenstown would be better to focus on attracting visitors over the holiday with the resort's beauty and amenities.

" I think we did up the ante this year .. and we need to continue that and make people feel welcome, but at the same time people come here to see Queenstown, not the extravagant dragon dancers they can see at home." By Joe Dodgshun on Fri, 3 Feb 2012

Chinese consulate in Christchurch will help Dunedin

A newly established Chinese consulate in Christchurch will significantly strengthen Dunedin's growing trade and tourism links with China, Chinese community representatives believe.

Tan Xiutian, the newly appointed Chinese consul-general to Christchurch, made a familiarisation visit to Dunedin this week, visiting the Dunedin Chinese Garden and meeting about 30 representatives of several Chinese organisations, members of the city's Chinese community and business representatives.

Ms Tan also met Dunedin civic leaders, as well as senior administrators and academics at the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, and visited the Otago Museum during her first visit to the city.

The Chinese Government had sped up the planned establishment of the consulate-general in Christchurch to show its strong support for New Zealand and citizens of the earthquake-hit city, she said in an interview.

China already has a consulate-general in Auckland and an embassy in Wellington.

Ms Tan noted China sent a rescue team to Christchurch after the major earthquake in February last year, and an internationally acclaimed Chinese acrobatic troupe had also recently performed there.

In a later talk to Chinese community and business representatives, Ms Tan praised Dunedin as a "beautiful" city with a "superb" Chinese Garden and acknowledged the sister city relationship with Shanghai.

She thanked former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin and others who had been trying to foster closer links between New Zealand and China.

Malcolm Wong, who chairs the Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust and the Dunedin Shanghai Association, formally welcomed her to the garden.

Establishing the Consulate-general in Christchurch would help support growing trade and tourism links between Dunedin and China, he said in an interview. It would be much easier for Dunedin businesspeople to travel to Christchurch than to have to go to Wellington, he said. Chinese consulate in Christchurch will help Dunedin

By John Gibb on Thu, 16 Feb 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tawa fruit shop owners run out of juice after 31 years

An era comes to a close this weekend as Tawa Fruit Mart's Chin family farewell the business after 31 years.

Kim Chee Chin, known as Chee, and his wife Zia Kuen Chin, known as Jean, have decided at the ages of 78 and 76 to sell the business they opened in November 1981.

"Our retirement has nothing to do with the business, it's our age," Mr Chin says. "It's 13 years overdue."

The couple still regularly haul 18 kilogram boxes of produce around the shop, and put their sprightliness down to eating vegetables at every meal.

The Chin family - Jean and Chee and their eight children - are a mainstay of Tawa's Main Rd, with a slew of regulars who visit four times a week.

"We know so many people, so many customers. When we go out on the street we know everybody. Everybody's so nice," Mr Chin says.

The grocery business is a real family affair. The Chin children grew up in the shop, sleeping out back in the storage room as babies, then helping out after school and at weekends. At Christmas time the 10-strong family would man all decks to deal with the holiday rush. Son Ming still works at the shop full-time, and his brothers and sisters will return to work in the shop one last time this Saturday.

After immigrating from southern China in 1957, Mr and Mrs Chin worked at Mr Chin's parents' fruit shop in Miramar before opening their own shop in Ngaio in 1971. Short on space, they relocated to Tawa a decade later.

The couple hasn't thought too much about how they'll spend their retirement, beyond a visit to their hometown of Taishan. "We've got plenty of time to think about it," Mr Chin says.

- Kapi-Mana News

Last updated 13:38 27/03/2012

Kris Dando

MOVING ON: Tawa Fruit Mart's Chee Chin, Jean Chin and son Ming Chin are moving on after 31 years in business on Main Rd.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Auckland bosses accused of racis

A desperate Auckland jobseeker is leaving New Zealand after coming up against racial bias in his job hunt, including the suggestion he needed to change his name to an English-sounding one just to land an interview.

Anti-discrimination organisations are warning this type of racial prejudice is wasting some of New Zealand's top talent.

Yik Kun Heng applied for 175 jobs after graduating from the University of Auckland with a first-class masters in political science.

He received just three interview requests, while his classmates with English-sounding names secured jobs.

The frustrated graduate sought advice from a career adviser and colleague, and they told him to change his name to an Anglo-Saxon one.

''It's almost like you have to give up your identity, everything you are as a person your history just to secure a job and pay cheque. That's too much of an ask for anyone.''

Heng is part of a wave of New Zealand-Asians hitting the workforce this decade.

His Malaysian parents moved here during the boom migration period of the 1990s.

Heng is a panelist on an upcoming debate in Auckland questioning whether workers of Asian descent are being locked out of jobs and promotions.

Young Chinese organisation Future Dragonz set up the Slanted discussion White or Wong to tackle employee discrimination and cultural stereotyping.

Although Heng was eventually hired at a telecommunications company after a seven-month job hunt, he has decided to leave for Hong Kong.

''No one should have to fight that hard to get a pay cheque, and that's just to get a job. To get a career, what am I going to have to do?''

Heng said he looked forward to being judged on his skills, rather than his name and ethnicity.

Research shows Asian migrants are far more likely to have negative employment experiences compared to South Africans and British migrants.

Massey University sociology professor Paul Spoonley said while attitudes towards immigrants from Asia have steadily improved, there are some major issues.

''One is in the labour market. Employers have not caught up with the fact Asians immigrants and New Zealand-born are a huge part of our labour supply.''

Employers tend to discount foreign qualifications and experience of Asian migrants, or simply think the candidate will not fit the workplace culture.

''They see these immigrants as high risk and don't want to take that risk,'' he said. ''They see a surname and they make a judgement.''

Ethnic minorities also faced discrimination once in the workplace.
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The Human Rights Commission receives, on average, 472 complaints about racial discrimination, incitement and harassment each year.

Race complaints regarding employment are the most frequent and Asians are the most common target.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said if you marginalise a community you are only hurting yourself.

''If people are employed below their level of qualifications then that is a loss to the economy. If they're not employed at all, that is a loss to the economy.'' And the workforce in New Zealand will only get more diverse.

Almost one in four people living here was born overseas. About 60 per cent of Auckland residents are immigrants or second-generation children.

Yet despite the growing diversity of our country, racist views of immigrants and their Kiwi-born children persist.

Strangers have abused and shouted ''go home'' at Fabian Low.

His home is Auckland. He is from Christchurch. He was born in Singapore.

He is one of the growing number of New Zealanders referred to as the 1.5 generation, with their identity wedged between Aotearoa and Asia.

Many of the 1.5 generation came to New Zealand during the wave of migration from Asia during the 1990s.

Low arrived at a Christchurch boarding school 18 years ago, aged 14. His parents followed a year later.

Racial slurs aside, Low says it is difficult to gauge how deep racial bias and prejudice runs in this nation.

''A minority of people openly expressed their [racist] views at me in Christchurch, but what I don't know is what is going on deep in people's minds.

''In Auckland it's more subtle. That's not to say it doesn't exist.''

Gently spoken and with a self-deprecating sense of humour, Low confesses to trying to fit in with other New Zealand men the only way he knew how - by drinking.

''I would drink regularly to keep up with my friends. It really wasn't good. I don't regret it because I'm responsible for myself, but I did it for all the wrong reasons.''

Rather than forcing assimilation on our newest New Zealanders, there should be a greater emphasis on integration whereby two cultures come together, he said.

ISSUES OF DISCRIMINATION: The first of the Slanted debate series is on March 28 at 6pm. Entry $

Last updated 07:48 25/03/2012

Stuart #8 via mobile 02:50 pm Mar 25 2012

That sounds both sexist and racist to be honest.

Brett #7 12:29 pm Mar 25 2012

I'm thinking this isn't as much about racism, as it is more to do with the fact that he has a Social Science/Arts degree - gimme a break, those degrees are useless. I started my original degree doing organisational psychology - what a waste of time! You won't get a job that way! Do computer science or something that has a real skill based background

Johnny #6 11:51 am Mar 25 2012

As an arts graduate myself, I had a lot of trouble securing a position when I graduated some years back. This is probably the issue here, rather than racism.

Lou #5 11:26 am Mar 25 2012

You only have to look at the jail statistic to see who we should encourage to stay and breed in this country. 55% of the jail population come from one ethnic minority, 2% from the Asian community. The answer is obvious but sadly there are to many with a vested interest in the perpetuation of crime for it to every be allowed to be debated in the mainstream media.

Paul343 #4 10:58 am Mar 25 2012

I'm not so sure, I would suggest the 'problem' might be that he has a Political Science degree. I have one of those as well, and didn't get a job until I got a more commercially focused degree. The fact is, universities are churning out grads with useless degrees. I'm sure if Mr. Wong had a hons degree in Engineering or even Accounting, he wouldn't be having any problems with 'racists'.

Kate #3 10:57 am Mar 25 2012

I feel for many foreigners coming to New Zealand to start a brighter future (sic), because this is not always the case. I also have a foreign surname, from Dutch decent. My profession in the medical field is sort after, but after 150+ job applications, I am off to Australia to seek a brighter future. I am sick and tired of hearing that I do have an accent, speak fast, what are your qualifications? etc. Many people making these comments do not even have any qualifications to their name. Paying thousands of dollars to get residence permits, work permits and even my Kiwi citizenship has brought me nothing but misery. I have wasted more than 10 years of my working life on people that are ungrateful xenophobic individuals. The people that treated me with respect was the indigenous Maori, but what a shame I did not get the same from the more "educated" so-called Europeans. New Zealand people are shooting them in the foot, New Zealand will never progress in many sectors due to their racist outlook. I am looking forward to offer my services somewhere else where I will be treated like a human being and be able to retain my dignity.

ygb #2 10:41 am Mar 25 2012

Are the perpetrators of the racist attitude towards Asians jealous of their ability towards work and success without moaning to the government that they can't cope, and require an apology and handouts for the way they were treated in the early 20th century? I tend to think that Asian are very bright and hard working, probably much to the anguish of some sectors of our society. NZ's loss.

Underprivileged Asian #1 10:23 am Mar 25 2012

I totally agree with this opinion but a majority of the people here ARE NOT like these rotten apples. I had to leave a good paying job as my GM made a comment that "he prefers women" in the presence of the HR Manager and also being called "@#$%ing Indian @#$t" by one of his cronies. The Community Law Centre addressed my concerns. They were very helpful but this same HR Manager, at the mediation, refused to accept that the GM had made that comment. This was mid Dec2011. I'm still without a job and it's the lowest point in my life, ever!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Elizabeth Chan's speech

Elizabeth Chan's speech to the Young Leaders Network Reunion

23 February 2012

I’d like to begin by thanking the Asia New Zealand Foundation for its support of and investment in the Young Leaders Network. In particular, I’d like to thank Dick, Vanessa, Melanie, Fiona and Adele for the opportunities that they have given us.

Elizabeth Chan speaking at the Young Leaders Network reunion.Tonight, I’d like to share something personal with you all.

My story is not an uncommon one. It starts in 1996 — well, perhaps it really starts about a hundred years before that, when China lost the Opium War and ceded Hong Kong to the British. 1997 was the year that Hong Kong was to be handed back to China, and the years just before that were pretty confusing and scary for people like my parents — those with young children and a great deal of uncertainty about how life might change.

I didn’t realise it then, but I was part of an influx of Hong Kong people who came to New Zealand in 1996. (Mum wanted to go to Canada, but Dad had heard that New Zealand was a slice of paradise.)

And so began a deeply personal journey about figuring out who I was — a Chinese kid in a Māori-Pākehā world. For many of my early years, I found my Chinese heritage irrelevant, annoying even. I didn’t particularly enjoy going back to Hong Kong for Christmas; it was too noisy and crowded. I resented having to go to Chinese school on Saturdays and struggled to master the characters – especially when English had come so easily to me. As many of you will understand, it’s very difficult to find motivation to learn about your culture when you feel like you’ve got no context for it.

Now, looking back on just over two years of involvement with the Young Leaders Network, I credit you all for helping me to be proud of who I am — a Kiwi-Chinese woman; for making me realise that there are lots of young people of all cultures who are passionate about Asia, indeed, many non-Asians who are far more steeped in Asian culture than I am.

I road-tripped up from Wellington today with some young leaders I’d just met. We stopped by a drive-through for a cup of coffee, and Frances told Nic the pin number of her Eftpos card in perfect Japanese, just so the rest of us couldn’t spend her money! Hamish told me he’d spent 10 years working in Taiwan, but still continues to be asked if he’s a visitor. Ephraim has been working with the Hutt City Council to organise cultural activities for the local community to enjoy.

I had stumbled upon the Young Leaders Network by accident, recommended to join it by friends, but I found a community of incredible young people. I am inspired especially by the non-Asians who are passionate for learning about my culture — my Chinese heritage — which took me so long to claim as my own.

Melanie asked me to talk about what I’m doing to further Asia-New Zealand relations. There are many young leaders among us who could speak far more authoritatively and persuasively on this subject, and I look forward to hearing some young leaders’ success stories at this conference.

My contribution to Asia-New Zealand relations is more modest — simply to succeed in my chosen field of expertise and to be a role model for other Chinese-New Zealand women. My chosen field of interest is the law, but it is not a field where there are many well-known female Chinese role models, perhaps with the single exception of Mai Chen. I hope I can, with grace and humility, help to pave the way for other Chinese women to succeed.

In my own way, I have tried to be a trailblazer. I am the only Chinese judge’s clerk currently working in the Supreme Court, where my five colleagues are all white. I am proud to be the first female Chinese national president of UN Youth New Zealand. I was honoured to be the only Chinese of the three finalists for the Young New Zealander of the Year Award, indeed the only Chinese person among the top 10 semi-finalists. I echo what Simon Bridges talked about tonight and thank you all for accepting me, as a Chinese New Zealander, into your hearts and minds.

To end, I hope you all have a wonderful conference. I hope that we can reflect critically on the value of the Young Leaders Network and work together to lead the network to even greater effectiveness. Thank you.

Image: Elizabeth Chan speaking at the opening dinner at the Young Leaders Network Reunion.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wimon heads off to Twittersphere

Last updated 10:18 16/03/2012

Simon Wong is leaving us today.

He is packing up his Facebook account and his Twitter logon. We will follow his progress as he writes in 140 characters (the limit for a tweet) about what he sees around the world.

Simon came to Marlborough from Auckland two years ago to work at the Express and has been our court reporter, covering the "list" days each week, the sentencing sessions, the trials and the appeals. He has become quite familiar with a "certain element" of the region.

Being a court reporter is not always an easy job, mostly because people don't like seeing their misdemeanours reported in the paper. Simon, like many others before him, has regularly been pressured by people not to report on their case, or to leave out their name.

We leave name suppression up to the judge and the law, though, and print names whenever we can, so there are no claims of favouritism. Which means Simon has not always been the most popular person in court and has suffered quite a bit of personal abuse.

I remember one caller upset his case had been covered suggesting that I should send "that Asian boy back to China" (and that is the edited version). We had a lively discussion about small-town racism, during which I told him Simon is a born-and-raised Aucklander and probably knows more about New Zealand and its history than he ever will. He hung up.

Wimon Song (the Twitter version of our court reporter) has also been one of our in-house social media experts. He's up with the technology and the language and has regularly sent out comments on the networks to keep followers up with what we've got in the paper and on our website.

Whenever I complain about a computer problem or some other technical foul-up I see him look at me with an expression that says, "You poor dinosaur". It's the same look I get from my son.

We'll miss Simon, another soul to have passed briefly through our newsroom, and wish him well as he returns to Auckland before his big overseas adventures.

- The Marlborough Express

Noodle king takes on local shop

Chain food outlet Noodle Canteen is the second noodle shop in five months to open in Blenheim.

Noodle Corner in High St opened in November last year and Noodle Canteen opened in Market St last week.

Christchurch-based Noodle Canteen director James Truong also owns the Queenstown, Invercargill and Richmond stores and said he had been requested to open a Blenheim store.

"I've had people who come into the store in Richmond saying, `I live in Blenheim, when are you going to open a store there?', so I thought, let's open one up."

There are more than 65 Noodle Canteen branches in New Zealand serving up a fusion of Asian dishes and Blenheim's enthusiastic response has been a good start, he said.

"I've had one guy come in nearly every day this week, he is crossing off all the dishes as he goes, I told him when he gets to 40, I'll shout him a drink."

The staff chop fresh meat and vegetables in between busy periods and customers can watch their lightning fast skills while they wait for their food, he said.

Noodle Corner and Asian Food Warehouse owner Udomsak Juchange, known as Dom, said the noodle concept was popular in Blenheim because it was a fast, easy and cheap meal.

"We have been quite busy, I think people are wanting a different taste, something new," he said. He expects Noodle Canteen to have an effect on his business in the short term, "but in the long run it will be fine".

Thursday, March 08, 2012

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.


A writing workshop is being run by Auckland Council for North Shore women who are "new Kiwis".
Over four weeks (one afternoon a week) between March 12 and April 14, women can develop writing skills with guidance from an established professional writer. The workshops will be led by playwright and poet Renee Liang, poet Janet Charman, and novelist and graphic artist Sarah Laing. Council's Matt Blomeley says council has identified many people in the area are migrant Chinese and Korean and many want the opportunity to write.
"It's the first time we've run this, and is a great opportunity for new Kiwi women to express themselves," he says.
WHAT New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories
WHERE Albany House, 575 Albany Highway
WHEN Mondays, 1pm-4pm, March 12,19 & 26, and April 2. Final event April 14
HOW MUCH Free (bookings required)
TO BOOK Phone Matt Bromeley 484 7913 or 021 225 2344 or email

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

[Transcription provided by Auckland Libraries staff]

Honolulu, May 15,/82

Sir Geo. Grey


New Zealand

Dear Sir

I thank you for the kind message which you sent me by Mr Knudsen. I have always remembered with much pleasure the short but pleasant visit which you paid us in 1870.

I send you by this mail a little treatise on our system of Land Titles, which I have just had published, & which may interest you.

Our Legislature is now in session. Great changes are rapidly going on in this little country, & not all for the better. The native Polynesians are decreasing as fast as ever, & the Chinese will inevitably take their places. The country is full of petty Chinese store keepers, peddlers & tramps, who live on the illicit sale of opium & gin to natives. In fact the natives are determined to abolish "Class Legislation", i.e. to repeal all laws forbidding the sale of liquor to natives. An effort is being made to carry a total prohibition law, something like the celebrated "Maine Law", but it will not succeed.

The Chinese from their secrecy & exclusiveness, their talent for organization, & for acquisition, are becoming a dangerous element here. On Darwin's theory they will "survive" here in "the struggle for life" as the "fittest." Already they are a majority of the adult males in this little Kingdom.

I am afraid that the King's (i) tour around the world has not benefited him much. The danger is that he will follow the example of the late Khedive (ii) of Egypt in borrowing & in extravagance.

The natives who have the political power by our present Constitution, pay but a small proportion, one seventh I think, of the taxes, and begin to understand that fact. In fact Communistic ideas are spreading among them, & race hatred is being stirred up by demagogues.

On the other hand foreign capital is being largely invested here, & a wonderful development of the material resources of the islands is taking place. You see we have a difficult problem to solve. I remain

Yours very truly

W.D. Alexander

(i) Kalakaua

(ii) Ismail

Ah-Chee, Chan, 1851-

Record Information

Manuscript number: NZMS 1720
Author: Hop, David V. Wong
Title: Family history being, [a brief outline of Mr Chan Ah-Chee family]
Subjects: Ah-Chee, Chan, 1851-; Ah-Chee family; Chinese in New Zealand; Gardening; Gardeners; Family histories -- New Zealand -- Auckland; Taxation
Time period: 1851-2009
Physical description: 1 folder
Collection: New Zealand manuscripts
A brief outline of the history of Chan Ah-Chee's family, a pioneering Chinese family of market gardeners in Auckland, New Zealand. Includes genalogical information, a 5 generation chart for William Ah Chee and Clement Ah Chee, portraits of family members and images showing locations around Auckland of importance to the family.

Manuscript in 7 parts, plus appendices.

Part 1: Chan Ah-Chee and family.

Part 2: Mrs Ah Chee Snr & role of descendant women.

Part 3: Brief details of Ah Chee descendants.

Part 4: Alice Ah Chee.

Part 5: Bruce Ah Chee, marries Grace Gee Dong (their lives).

Part 6: Thomas Ah Chee, marries Molly Gee Dong (their lives).

Part [7]: Poll Tax.


1- Documents relating to travel, etc;

2- List of houses: Ah Chee Snr, William & Clement;

3- Plan of Carlaw Park showing the house and other buildings;

4- Family tree from the 1991 reunion booklet.

Sunday, March 04, 2012



The pros and cons of Chinese competition with European tratlospooplc in fruit and other lines wore debated at length at a public meeting at Sydenham Inst night, called by the Sydenham Burgesses Association. Mr G. E. Good, President of the Association, was in the chair. The Chairman referred to the recent opening of Chinese shops in the city and the likelihood of a Chinese shop being opened in Sydenham., Once Chinese arrived in New Zealand after satisfying the Government regulations they had a perfect right to free citizenship, but he sincerely hoped that ho would never see a Chinese shop in Sydenham. The- Chinese wore of no use to the country as they lived very cheaply, employed no labour, and spent no money. As soon as they amasseu about £100 or £200 they returned to China. How to solve the problem was tin. difficulty. But as Mr H. W. Bishop, S.M ~ said the other day: ''If tho people did not support them they would not stay in the country." It was the working people who were to blame. These working people had their unions and their federations to secure better pay, and quito right too, and yet it was these people who supported tho Chinese. Mr A. I). Hart, said it was only through the Chinaman and the hawker that tho poor man could get his fruit at a reasonable figure. If it were not for them fruit rings would flourish to such an extent in town that the poor man would not ho able to buy fruit at all. Mr J. T. Forrester alleged the existence of a fruit ring in Chnstchureh. He had been in tho business and he knew. Mr J. Nancarrow saiu ho had been in the fruit business for over forty years, and he challenged either of tho two last speakers to that there was, or ever had been, any fruit ring in Christchurch. Another speaker advocated the fruiterers wrecking the Chinese shops. That was the. only way they could get rid of th© aliens. Mr J. Shackel moved .—"That it bo a recommendation from this meeting to the Burgesses' Association to' suggest to the citizens of Christchurch that they consider tho advisability of buying their fruit and other £oods from, and confining their patronage to, white trades people." Mr R. McLachlan seconded. Mr Crowley moved, and Mr Hunter seconded, a'«j a further motion:—"That this meeting is of opinion that, seeing tho poll tax of £100 is a failure, it should bo increased to £1000." Mr C. Lafferty said his experience was that the fruiterers were the cause of the presence of tho Chinese in New Zealand by buying fruit from them, and it wd> not until the trouble came to their own doors that the fruiterers woko un. Mr Hart sajd that until the greengrocers declined to buy fruit from flfo Chinese, they could hardly expect white people to refrain from buying at Chines© shops. The resolutions -were then put to tho meeting and carried. Press, Rōrahi LXVIII, Putanga 14302, 13 Poutūterangi 1912, Page 11

Chinese whispers

Michal Haines has the insider's guide to Auckland's best Chinese destinations, from yum cha to Sichuan.
by Michael Haines | Cuisine issue #148 | Tuesday, 1 November, 2011
Chinese whispersPhoto by Kieran Scott

When I was a child, I remember often hearing people say that their favourite food was Chinese. Of course, they meant dishes such as the ubiquitous sweet and sour pork drenched in fluorescent orange, mouth-numbing vinegar sauce, purchased from the takeaway shop in Beach Haven, near where I grew up on Auckland’s North Shore.

My grandfather moved to New Zealand from China as a young man, and my mother learnt many classic Cantonese dishes from him. As a result, my experience of Chinese food has always been rather different. However, it’s interesting to look at how New Zealanders’ perceptions of the cuisine have also changed dramatically in the last 20 years. In Auckland, the abundance of locally grown Chinese vegetables, the vast array of baked and steamed goods, and the choice of restaurants, noodle bars and cafes has now become almost overwhelming.

Chinese immigrants arriving in Auckland in the 20th century often simply continued with businesses they knew: restaurants, laundries, fruit shops, market gardens and grocers. Auckland’s legendary Wah Lee grocer was established by the Lee family in the 1970s. It was originally run by George Wah Lee, one of the most generous-spirited gentlemen I’ve ever met. The wonderment of going to Wah Lee’s as a pre-schooler is one of my fondest childhood memories – if I was lucky, I’d be given haw flakes and dried banana slices to eat while my mother sipped tea with George. It all seemed so other-worldly at the time but after travelling to China as an adult, I realised the Lees had merely transplanted a genuine Chinese grocer to 1970s Auckland.

By the 1980s, a different kind of Chinese immigrant was arriving on our shores, bringing educated sons and daughters, money and business with them. A number of restaurants popped up to cater for this new population, with notable Cantonese chefs brought in to cook authentic food. Vast, ear-shatteringly noisy venues appeared, featuring carts filled with congee and towers of steaming baskets. These first yum cha restaurants marked the beginning of a new love affair for Aucklanders, that’s still ongoing today.

Sun World Chinese Restaurant was one of the first to offer yum cha in Auckland. Now in Newmarket, it does good traditional dishes, such as sui mai (pork in wonton-like wrappers with shiitake mushrooms and prawns), har gow (prawns in translucent wrappers), ham sui gok (chewy, pork-filled fried dumplings), and even a spring roll or two.

It’s worth venturing out east to Botany’s Star Cafe Seafood Restaurant to enjoy well-made classics. A highlight is the array of steamed dumplings filled almost to bursting with good-quality prawns, while the mochi-style coconut balls, filled with peanuts and sesame seeds, are truly the best I’ve tried.

If you’re looking for yum cha in the city you’re spoilt for choice, but Crystal Harbour offers a level of service that matches its superior offerings. It serves mostly classics with a few more unusual dishes appearing from time to time, such as the Hong Kong pancakes studded with dried shrimps and chives. Crystal Harbour also excels in steamed goods, all fantastically hot with expertly made dumpling skins that are never too thick or too firm, due to the speedy turnover.

Grand Park at the Alexandra racecourse seems a fitting venue for yum cha. Squint and you can almost imagine you’re in Hong Kong, placing a bet on a horse or two while you eat. Frequented by an older crowd, the tables of grandmas and grandads with babies add to the atmosphere. And it does offer some spectacular seafood dumplings – perfectly formed, really well seasoned and filled with quality ingredients.

For another out-of-the-city experience, Golden Phoenix in Birkenhead specialises in seafood, making it a good option if you don’t eat meat. All dishes taste properly homemade, packed with fresh flavours. The coriander and prawn dumplings are a must-try.

It’s only been in about the last 10 years that more Auckland restaurants have started offering the kind of food that appeared at my grandparents’ table: more traditional, more homely and less Westernised. The balance between non-Cantonese and Cantonese will perhaps never be evened up, but now we do have the luxury of deciding not just where to eat Chinese, but what regional cuisine we are looking for.

The tastes of Shanghai that are so new to us in Auckland make use of sharp, sweet and hot flavours. Preserved vegetables are a good example – tart vinegars preserve or pickle the vegetables while sesame or chilli oils lubricate them and chilli pastes give them a bang. Meanwhile, Sichuan food has the characteristic mouth tingle of Sichuan peppercorns and, as the region is a rich growing area, a wide variety of dried flowers, nuts and vegetables also feature heavily. The intense tingling heat and tart vinegar sauces of Sichuan dishes are also seen in Hunanese cuisine.

Dominion Rd is perhaps the best place to find more regional takes on dishes, although they’re not always listed on menus. It can help to express an interest in where your hosts are from and ask what they recommend, rather than simply hoping to randomly hit menu gold.

Spicy Joint is predominantly Sichuan-style, though a few dishes hint at Cantonese tastes and there are also several Hakka offerings. Clean, well-formed flavours in marinated cold dishes feature heavily: the marinated pigs’ ears are a triumph of texture and taste, while the special duck is flavoured with aromatic five-spice, cooked twice then served cold.

The arrival in Auckland of the legendary Lanzhou noodles seems to have made quite an impact – the soft handmade noodles now feature in flavourful soups on menus all around town. Spicy Joint’s version (pictured above) comes with a generous serve of beef, swimming in a lightly peppered broth with plenty of coriander.

Tasty Noodles, right outside the treasure trove of Tai Ping Trading Company, is a total winner. Its handmade noodles are wonderfully smooth, swimming in a rich paste made from fermented soy beans, while the toppings are intense and rich. A large serving is almost impossible to finish so I go for the small at just $8, with the addition of preserved cabbage and a good chilli heat.

Kung Fu Noodle is also a good bet for great noodles and dumplings, in always-busy surrounds.

I enjoy the authentic dishes at Shanghai ShiKuMen Restaurant, at the Eden Quarter end of Dominion Rd. Uyghur-style lamb cooked with cumin seeds and served with buns to wrap the meat in is a favourite. The wonderful hosts will talk you through anything you are not sure of and they have some of the best Shanghai–style buns I’ve found outside Shanghai.

Bun Hut, in the Balmoral shops, is a great place to go when you’re on a budget. For around $12 you can get more dumplings than it’s possible to eat in a single sitting and they’re good quality as well as being extremely flavoursome. Also in this area is San Bao, which has many fans and does excellent crispy rice.

Jolin Shanghai Restaurant offers some seriously “Chinese” food, intestines and all. The flavours are entirely of Shanghai with nice sharp-sweet contrasts, good use of Sichuan peppercorns and an array of cold dishes to choose from.

Homeworld, just up from the Civic Theatre in central Auckland, offers home-cooked treats such as salted fish with pork, belly pork cooked with shrimp paste, and spare ribs in a clay pot. It’s also worth a visit if you want a plate of really good fried rice.

Taller Park is another city stalwart delivering perfect fried rice, egg-noodle soup with wontons and other classics, such as beef and black bean.

Modern takes on Chinese eating have seen the emergence of some great restaurants and the Red Guard Cafe is the kind of place you’d find in any large Chinese city. It has a mix-up of Cantonese dishes and those from other cuisines (the menu includes laksa, condensed milk toast and bolognese), but I keep going back to the salted fish with pork on aubergine. If you want something that’s simply delicious with no fuss, Red Guard Cafe is a real find.

Destinations such as Momo Tea (branches throughout Auckland) offer small eats that are a great way to stave off hunger late at night. A skewer or two of chargrilled meats are just what you need at 2am, served in noisy, busy surrounds that make you feel as if you’re in another city altogether.

LFZ on Anzac Ave is a relative newcomer, offering skewers and flavourful dishes that, when paired with a beer, make for a good night out. If you are not so keen on the more unusual cuts of meat and offal, they also have a range of prime cuts.

Chinese cuisine in Auckland has certainly come a long way since my grandparents’ day and it’s exciting to see so many new places offering authentic dishes. Every restaurant offers a different culinary adventure – all a far cry from the sweet and sour pork of my friends’ childhoods.

Bun Hut 563 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-638 8898
Crystal Harbour 39 Market Pl, City, ph: 09-377 3773
Golden Phoenix Level 1, 63 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead, ph: 09-480 6806
Grand Park Alexandra Raceway, Epsom, ph: 09-638 6998
Homeworld BBQ Restaurant 34 Wellesley St, City, ph: 09-369 1238
Jolin Shanghai Restaurant 248 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-631 5575
Kung Fu Noodle 636 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-630 6090
LFZ 49-55 Anzac Ave, City, ph: 09-373 2213
Red Guard Cafe 155 Queen St, City, ph: 09-302 3322
San Bao 708 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-630 9633
Shanghai ShiKuMen Restaurant 307 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-623 2855
Spicy Joint 533 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-623 4938
Star Cafe Seafood Restaurant 345 Chapel Rd, East Tamaki, ph: 09-271 1698
Sun World 2 York St, Newmarket, ph: 09-520 3218
Tai Ping 911 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-629 0340
Taller Park 12 Wyndham St, City, ph: 09-303 0661
Tasty Noodles 919 Dominion Rd, ph: 09-620 5618
Wah Lee 220 Hobson St, City, ph: 09-373 4583

At home with Mai Chen

Mai Chen picks up a small silver-framed photograph of four young girls. "Bad memories," she says, before gently placing it back down.

She is 6 years old in the photograph, the youngest of the four Chen girls, newly arrived in New Zealand from Taiwan with their parents. They were poor, immigrant and could speak only a couple of words of English. In the South Island of the 1970s, that marked them out as different. Back then, that was a dark and uneasy place to be.

The photograph, a faded black-and- white one, was taken as the four little girls were about to leave for their first day at school. They are lined up at the front door, dressed identically in tidy trouser suits. They had only been in the country a short time. But they already knew what it meant to be different.

"My first day here, I remember Mum and Dad were trying to sort out the house and a nice man took us to the park. Someone was yelling at us, I don't know, 'ching chong Chinaman go back to China', whatever. We were in Christchurch. And then there was a car crash. Apparently, the guy was so stunned by seeing four Chinese girls holding hands, he crashed into the car in front of him."

School was an endurance test; even lunch, recalls Chen, was an exercise in humiliation. Rice cooked by their mother and packed into their lunch boxes was, unimaginatively, "flied lice" to their Kiwi counterparts - "and of course, Mum always gave us chopsticks to eat it with".

Come lunchtime, you could usually find the Chen girls in a huddle behind the school gym.

If it was a childhood marked by an overriding sense of being the outsider, then Chen, today, epitomises the term "insider". She is one of the country's highest-profile lawyers - wealthy, hugely successful, a woman whose contact book is stuffed full with the names and numbers of most of the country's movers and shakers. As one half of boutique law firm Chen Palmer, she started out as the unknown quantity to her famous business partner, former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer. These days her name alone is enough to open doors.

But that sense of being the outsider is what stuck with her over the years; at age 9, when she and her sisters and mother were still deeply unhappy in her adopted homeland, she recalls deciding "if I had to be here, I was going to make it count".

The 48-year-old's latest project lives up to that promise. In a career spanning several decades, it is far from her only legacy, though it is potentially her most lasting and most ambitious - a book summing up 25 years of experience at the bar and the past 10 as one of the country's foremost public law experts and lobbyists.

Her Public Law Toolbox is a textbook guide to the corridors of power for all the outsiders, the underdogs and the Josephine and Joe Citizens for whom the key to those corridors has always seemed elusively beyond their reach.
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There is no trick of Chen's trade that she has kept back. In the world she moves in, it is the equivalent of giving away the secret handshake, potentially as revealing as opening up the mistress's black book, with all its secrets - or, as Chen prefers to describe it, like giving away the plans to Alcatraz.

Whatever analogy you want to use, it has been an extraordinary undertaking: A 1100-page book reviewed by some of the country's foremost business, political, legal and academic brains ahead of its publication this month, and applauded as ground-breaking and hugely empowering by all. Former prime minister Jenny Shipley even goes so far as to call it a "gift to the nation".

Chen has, in effect, open-sourced public law. Over the years, she has charged reportedly eye-watering fees to impart some of the wisdom condensed in her book. No wonder people keep asking her: "Why are you doing this?"

"If you want to know the real why of this, it is because I wanted to make a contribution," says Chen.

"Look, I came to this country as a 6-year-old. We had nothing. We didn't speak English. We were not insiders. We were about as outside as you could get.

"I found there was no way to get inside. You see, for immigrants you have to be able to read it in a book because you don't have anyone who can tell you. So having found all that stuff, I think everybody needs to know it."

She despairs when new clients come to her saying they have no money left because they have spent it all in the High Court, on a matter that could have been resolved through the ombudsmen or auditor-general.

She wants people to understand how government works, how and why decisions get made, who makes them, and why senior civil servants who, in some eyes, are a bunch of "cardigan-wearing handbrakes", actually do what they do, and why they deserve respect for that.

"And I also think that outsiders need a guide to the inside; I think it is important we do not have a system which is run on lunches, drinks and old networks."

It is a brilliantly sunny Sunday one of those "you can't beat Wellington on a good day" mornings and Chen is just back from a run with her 11-year-old labrador Socrates. Young son Jack is trailing behind her as she heads upstairs for a shower, running up the panelled wooden stairway of their gracious, two-storey home.

Husband John Sinclair, 50, is lugging bags of compost to a tiny glasshouse perched at the edge of their section in one of Wellington's most exclusive streets. The glasshouse and the $2.2 million Wadestown house behind it enjoy staggering views of the harbour.

While getting ready for the photographs, Chen tidies away the reminders of her and Sinclair's small party on the terraced lawn the night before.

It was a night to celebrate a calm and balmy evening, and for the first time in a very long time, she wasn't working.

She finally put her book to bed the Monday before. It's a massive weight off her shoulders.

Writing it meant having to get up at 5.30am, just to squeeze everything in, and there were days she didn't get to start writing till after 10pm. Her law firm was exploding in size at the same time, as the work kept rolling in. In between, she took on an adjunct professorship.

"I don't think I have ever worked as hard ... I didn't know I could work that hard. I have worked every waking moment of my life. I ended up with a sore knee because when I wasn't sitting, I was running; I got really fit over the past year because I just couldn't work the hours I was working if I wasn't fit."

At the worst times, her husband would ask her: "Why are you doing this to yourself?" But she felt compelled to finish the book.

"Had I left it any later I would not have done it. You just get to a point in your life where you say 'I just don't want to do that anymore', and I must say I'm about there now."

Before the interview, Chen is uncomfortable with the suggestion that one of her sisters might be willing to share stories from her childhood. Her three sisters Annie, Mindy and Angel are all successful in their own right, Chen argues in an email. It wouldn't feel right. "Interview my husband. I have been with him 30 years."

But on the day of the interview, Sinclair, a novelist who has just had his first book accepted, is a gardener gifted with that rare thing this summer a perfect, windless day. He tears off to the garden centre while Chen stays behind.

Chen and Sinclair met on a scripture outing. She was his first girlfriend; he was her second boyfriend, though that first relationship never got as far as a first kiss.

Committed Christians (Chen is more relaxed about her faith now), the young Asian girl and tall European shared a missionary-like zeal for doing good in the world and wanted nothing of material possessions like houses or cars and credit cards. Which was just as well, because they possessed nothing.

"The only way we could see each other was my sister, my elder sister, donated her 50cc bike so John could ride in to see me from Mosgiel. John was doing his PhD in English literature, in poetry, which is not necessarily supportive of a good paying job. Because actually what he wants to do is write poetry and write novels, which, of course, doesn't earn anything. When we got married, my sister, my other sister, gave us a microwave. So we owned half a microwave each. We had no money."

On their wedding day, Chen wore a ring for which she had scraped together the money herself.

So when she won a scholarship to Harvard a number of scholarships actually, including one that paid for her husband to accompany her it was "such a big deal for us".

Harvard was an eye-opening experience.

"I expected to go and find a whole bunch of really well-adjusted, successful people, you know? So I went and I met a whole bunch of hugely successful, beautiful people.

"They were physically beautiful, they were also champions in other things, they were the golf champion of France and, you know, just happened to be top of their law class. And they were all just obsessive-compulsive because if you weren't, why would you work that hard? You'd have a normal life, wouldn't you?"

As someone who landed at Harvard with an obsessive-compulsive determination to succeed herself, it is not too big a stretch to assume that Chen fitted right in. "I did rather. A lot of them came from unusual backgrounds; there was a reason why they were motivated."

It was a new experience for Chen. At Otago law school, where she topped her class, being the perpetual outsider nearly caused her to drop out in her third year. "Because I didn't fit, you know? Everyone came from mummy and daddy's law firm. And I was always asking questions ... like, why is the law like this?"

After Harvard came a human rights scholarship and the first big step on what could have been a prestigious international career, working in Geneva for the International Labour Organisation.

"But, I'm not a bureaucrat. I wasn't cut out for that scene ... I was there at the crack of dawn, the woman who was supervising me would come in via her chauffeur-driven car at 10am, she had her au pair, they would break for lunch at 12pm, have a very long lunch, come back at 2.30pm and they would leave about four.

"I need to be somewhere I'm engaged and where people really want to be doing what they are doing."

She was drawn to the idea of returning to an academic career "because I thought there might be other people like me who thought they had nothing to contribute to the law because they didn't fit".

Ultimately, however, the decision to return was her husband's.

"Because it was his turn. He'd been padding around the world after me. He got a job back here and wanted to come home."

Chen applied to Victoria University and was very quickly a senior lecturer. But at 29 came the decision that if she didn't make the break for private practice then, she never would.

"My parents were completely devastated. They didn't talk to me for two years. I know they thought I'd gone mad. I mortgaged the house."

She hadn't expected to stay in private practice long "I just wanted to see whether it was different."

But then Palmer, whom she had met through their work together at Victoria University, came to her and said: "Let's start this thing."

"I said to him: 'Why choose me? Why don't you choose another old white guy?' "

Palmer's response was that no-one else would be mad enough to take it on.

"I said: 'I've only just figured out how to fill out a time sheet and use a Dictaphone.' He said: 'No, it's got to be now.' We set up Chen Palmer and it just took off."

Since Palmer left in 2005 to head the Law Commission, the firm, still carrying the name Chen Palmer, has doubled in size.

If Chen puts her success down to anything, it is to never being expected to make much of herself at all.

She was doubly cursed as both an immigrant and the fourth girl in a Chinese family, "which, you know, wasn't great in Taiwan".

"People don't seem to realise. I know that I'm no-one, I was born no-one, I was the fourth girl in a Chinese family, I wasn't ever supposed to be anyone.

"My dad spent a lot of time on the first two girls because he thought they were going to be great.

"But actually the last two? I don't think he learnt my name. So I wasn't ever meant to be anything, because, you know, they wanted to have a son and I understand that."

So she always knew that if she was going to get anywhere, it was going to be under her own steam.

"My mum and dad had made it very plain to me what my future held. They said: 'We are Chinese, you are a girl, we have no money. You have to do it for yourself'."

But after a lifetime of crashing through roadblocks, refusing to be stopped by obstacles and overcoming the odds, that burning drive to push herself to the limit to prove herself might have nearly run its course. She is, she suggests, happy with her lot.

A few months ago, when the couple celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary, Sinclair presented his wife with a pen and a piece of paper.

"He said: 'Here's a piece of paper; write down everything you want to do.' "

The sheet of paper, Chen says, is still blank.

"There's nothing on it. I've done everything I want to do now. We have worked really, really, really hard in the first 30 years I've known John and the great thing is that the fun is the next 30 years. I don't have anything else I want to do."

That doesn't mean an end to work but it does mean an end to the 18-hour days, the punishing seven-day-a-week schedule, and betting against the clock for time with her family.

"I feel like I've finished a pie-eating competition; I want no more pies."

Last updated 12:06 04/03/2012

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Book examines historic Maori-Chinese bonds

By Lincoln Tan
5:00 AM Tuesday Mar 25, 2008

Manying Ip says Maori-Chinese relationships are one of the least- documented pieces of New Zealand history. Photo / Martin Sykes
Manying Ip says Maori-Chinese relationships are one of the least- documented pieces of New Zealand history. Photo / Martin Sykes

The Chinese men wanted the Maori women for sex, and the women went to them for the money - but it was more than a commercial arrangement, because they did have a relationship - just not the conventional husband-and-wife type.

This little-known facet of New Zealand's history is revealed in a new book by University of Auckland academic Manying Ip.

The men, who were mostly market gardeners, had wives and children in China, she says, but they never saw their families, and had children with the Maori women who worked in their gardens.

And some Maori families encouraged their daughters to be with the Chinese because they were seen as "financially secure".

Maori-Chinese relationships were complicated, and are one of the least understood and documented pieces of New Zealand history, says Dr Ip.

Her book, Being Maori-Chinese, aims to give an insight into the complexities of this cross-cultural alliance.

"Maori-Chinese are hardly featured in mainstream New Zealand history, and strangely, it is a topic that has also been largely ignored by both Maori and Chinese historians here," said Dr Ip, an associate professor of Chinese at the Auckland University, explaining why she decided to investigate the topic for her book.

But the complexities, and sensitivities surrounding it could be reasons local historians have shied away from it.

One Maori elder at the Otaki campus of Te Wananga-o-Raukawa concluded that Professor Ip would get nowhere with her research, because Maori-Chinese would be very sensitive and would not share any in-depth information.

"Are you sure you want to pursue this study on Maori-Chinese relations? I don't think people will tell you much," he said in a letter to Professor Ip.

"Actually, between the Chinese and the Maori, often there weren't marriages as such. There were relationships, yes. After all, the Chinese men lived here without their women for years and years.

"But often the Maori girls wouldn't expect marriage ... I mean, those were very hard times. The girls did as they were told. More often than not, there's no marriage, not even long-term relationships"

But having Maori-Chinese friends, whom she met through her work as a community advocate, writer and someone devoted to fostering better race relations, gained Professor Ip the much-needed acceptance among the group to enable her to conduct the in-depth research that would form the basis of her book.

Today, the younger Maori-Chinese may be confident with their multiple roots and the cultural advantages they possess, but it was a very different story in the past, she said.

"Trying to establish a positive Maori-Chinese identity when both Maori and Chinese were considered undesirable was an ongoing struggle for each one of them," said Professor Ip, who described Maori and Chinese as marginalised communities in New Zealand.

"Sharing memories of one's past is never easy, but for the interviewees it is that much harder because their stories are not just about struggles against social discrimination, but often of family disapproval."

Over five years, she worked closely with seven Maori-Chinese families, whose stories are featured in the book.

"I guess this book is not just about who they are, but it would also help us with looking at who we are and what New Zealand society will become in the future," Professor Ip said.

Manying Ip was born in Guizhou, China, and raised in Hong Kong. She came to New Zealand in 1974 and gained an MA in Chinese literature and a PhD in history at Auckland University.

She has been a long-time researcher on Chinese New Zealanders and Asian immigrants.

Her other books include Aliens at My Table: Asians As New Zealanders See Them (2005), Unfolding History, Evolving Identity: Chinese in New Zealand (2003) and Home Away From Home: Life Stories of Chinese Women in New Zealand (1990).

Being Maori-Chinese is published by Auckland University Press and will be available in bookshops next month.
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln
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Friday, March 02, 2012

Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust applications

MEDIA RELEASE - 1 March 2012

Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust applications closing soon

The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust is now receiving applications to its first funding round of 2012.

The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust was established in 2004 in recognition of the hardship caused
by the poll tax and other discriminatory legislation, and is a gesture of goodwill to poll tax payers,
their descendants, and future generations.

The Trust aims to create a greater understanding of the Chinese community in New Zealand and
strengthen the unique identity of Chinese New Zealanders.

The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust may award grants to any person or organisation, Chinese or
otherwise, for projects and activities that support the Trust’s objectives. In the last funding round, the
Trust granted $116,004 in total to a variety of projects and activities across the country.

The New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc received $5000 to assist with costs associated
with running the 2011 Youth Leadership Camp attended by 40 teenagers.

$2858 was granted to the Chinese New Zealand Oral History Foundation Inc to continue the 21
Voices project which is recording the stories of poll tax payer descendants.

Rebecca Lau received $1000 to attend the Australian Figure Skating Championships.

The Trust holds two funding rounds each year. Applications for the current funding round close on
31 March 2012. Successful grants will be announced in June 2012.

Current funding priorities for the Trust are histories of Chinese fruit shops, laundries, restaurants
and takeaway shops; histories of Chinese wives and mothers pre-1970s; New Zealand Chinese
Association Branch histories; restoration of gravestones; and commemoration of poll tax payers.
Applications from the Chinese and wider community for projects in these areas are encouraged.

To obtain an application form, or to learn more about the Trust, visit
or phone 0800 824 824.

Iona Wassilieff
Communications Advisor
The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
Phone 04 495 7299; mobile 027 524 6352

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Grafton mourns a very special Rose

Park Fruit shop owner Rose Yin was a hardworking single mother who served the people of Grafton, including thousands of Auckland Hospital visitors, for almost 50 years.

Although her shop closed after she retired in 2007, the 87-year-old was still well known by many in the community as a kind and generous woman.

Ms Yin passed away in hospital on Saturday, a week short of her 88th birthday, leaving many saddened.

Fellow Grafton store owner Emin Cecil "Jimmy" Erdonmez bought his vegetables from Ms Yin's store. "Like many others in the Grafton community, I regularly shopped at Rose's. Because she was so friendly, many people who live and work around here knew her well. Park Road will not be the same without her."

Ms Yin's son Dennis Yin said she opened her Park Rd fruit and vegetable shop in the late 1950s despite facing many difficulties.

"She was a solo mother with a young son. It was really hard to find a bank which would loan us money."

Nevertheless, Mr Yin said his "self-starter" mother found the support they needed and opened the shop.

She was also able to purchase a home further down the road which doubled as a boarding house, with the second level being rented out.

As her business grew, Ms Yin made several changes to her home and shop. In 1972, she transformed the downstairs of her home into two separate spaces. She moved the fruit shop into one and rented the adjacent space to Grafton Pharmacy. Upstairs was turned into a small flat for herself.

Mr Yin said changes in Grafton over the years had affected his mother's business.

"When I was growing up, Grafton was a suburb of old colonial homes and boarding houses. It was a fairly transient community, far different from what it is like today. My mother was a very hard-working lady, but it became increasingly difficult to compete with the supermarkets."
By Teuila Fuatai