Tuesday, October 30, 2012


REGISTERING CHINESE. A WEEKLY SCENE. TAKING THE FINGER PRINTS. Is the scene a public one? It may not be intended for such, but in effect it is. It can be seen weekly, when the Sydney boat arrives. Lined up along the wall of a largo room in the Customs-Department, of which the door is always open, and clustered about the outer corridors can be seen a score or more of solemn Chinamen, their pigtails neatly braided over the hat-less heads, and almond eyes expressing various emotions. Callow young Celestials, who have torn themselves away from anxious parents, grizzled veterans who have left grand-children in the rice-fields, and every age between, may usually be seen among the Orientals. They are strangers in a strange land that does not specially want them, immigrants, who have paid their poll-tax, and are awaiting the receipt—with them their kith and kin of Wellington, who speak the tongue of the barbarians. The finger prints of those who have arrived for the first time are taken in a most elaborate way by a young cadette, who also takes tho strangers' names and addresses, and generally; puts them through their facings with a dignity of manner and decisiveness of action' whicn is most admirable.. "Ko Fung," the young lady calls, after consultation of a list, and Ko Fung steps forward more or less promptly, shakes his head to indicate that he docs not understand English, and puts himself in the hands of the interpreter. Name, origin, occupation, and destination aro with some trouble elicited, and the man has then to make hia mark. On the form which notifies that he has paid his poll tax there are spaces left for the finger prints of both his hands. Further prints are taken on a duplicate form, so that both parties may have evidence of the payment. Usually the newcomer regards this performance as fearfully mysterious. His fingers are smudged with ink, and he essays to place the tips very gingerly upon the white sheet: Placing a towel above his band, the young lady presses down quickly but firmly the ends of four fingers—first, the right hand, then the left. The name of the next Chinaman is called. Twelve Chinese arrived by the Sydney boat yesterday, but ten of them had been in New Zealand before, and when this is the case the finger prints are taken less elaborately on a sheet of foolscap for comparison with the Department's previous rccords. Several members of the Wellington Chinese colony were present to hearten up the strangers for the mysterious but brief ordeal. Dominion, Volume 1, Issue 197, 14 May 1908, Page 6

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