Sunday, July 28, 2013

NZ Chinese Arts Hui

NZ Chinese Arts Hui Simon Kaan, Kim Lowe and Kathryn Tsui would like to invite NZ Chinese working in the creative arts/ writing/(or from other areas who would like to work with artists) to a hui in September. The hui will be facilitated by playrite and poet, Renee Liang. This will be a great opportunity to get together to network, share your work, discuss ideas for future projects, and meet each other. Please send this out to your NZ Chinese arts contacts. PS Message Read

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Deal opens door for Chinese workers in Christchurch rebuild Read more:

By Tom McRae Reporter The immigration minister says Chinese construction workers will be part of the Christchurch rebuild. Local company Arrow International and a Chinese construction firm will bid for some of the big ticket items. But with unemployment here sitting at more than 6 percent, does that mean Kiwis are missing out? The rebuild in Christchurch is picking up, and soon Chinese workers will be at the centre of it, after the deal with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. "There is no doubt in my mind that the rebuild is going to require a significant number of migrant labour," says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. Thirty-five-thousand workers will be needed to complete the rebuild. The Immigration Minister told The Nation this morning that means a shortage of 17,000. "That will depend on the skills they bring and their ability to speak English," says Mr Woodhouse. It's not just the rebuild where immigrants are being targeted. A number of job ads are now asking specifically for foreign workers. Orchards have traditionally employed seasonal overseas contractors, and now 20 percent of dairy workers are foreign. "We frankly can't run our industry without significant numbers of immigrant workers," says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills. "The industry is just too important to be hijacked by a lack of labour. If we can't get Kiwis in these roles, then we've got to make it easy to attract and retain good immigrant labour." The problem is there aren't enough New Zealand workers with the right skills. "They need to be experienced," says John Hughes of Rural Contractors New Zealand. "They need to have a work ethic. They need to have an ability to hit the ground running." The Government says it's working hard to up-skill Kiwis into work, but they have to be motivated. "Any employer will tell you when Work and Income sends some workers to them they will have some of those barriers," says Mr Woodhouse. "That is they're not skilled or educated enough to do the jobs. They may have some issues with drug and alcohol or mobility, and I think those are barriers that we need to continue to move so Kiwis are first in line for the jobs." It seems until there's a real incentive for Kiwis to look for work, immigrants will happily step up. 3 News Sat, 20 Jul 2013 6:02p.m. Read more:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Founding father after slice of the pie

Founding father after slice of the pie By John Weekes 5:30 AM Sunday Jun 16, 2013 One of Georgie Pie's founding fathers says his contribution to the reheated fast-food favourite has been left in the back of a pie-warmer. "I set it up and nobody gives me any credit for it," said philanthropist, Rotarian, retired businessman and Howick sports club stalwart Trevor King, 87. The nostalgic nosh has proved irresistible to New Zealanders, who campaigned for the return of Georgie Pie, set up in 1977 and shut down a generation later. This month, the pie returned - and with it, a wave of attention for the pie outlet's creators, particularly former Georgie Pie general manager Brian Popham. But not King. King said he was asked to check out fast foods and develop a concept for supermarket mogul Thomas Ah Chee, who sent him on an overseas scouting trip in the 1970s. King said fish and chips were popular but the fish supply was too erratic for a big assembly-line operation. However, he noted Kiwis made some of the world's greatest pies. King figured if they could sell pies for the same price McDonald's hawked its burgers, Ah Chee would have a winner. King said he spent some time away from the project before Ah Chee summoned him to get involved again. King was the managing director at Georgie Pie for a few years. Popham told the Herald on Sunday many people were important to Georgie Pie's genesis. Although Popham was commonly regarded as the firm's real big cheese, he was happy to acknowledge King "had a very valuable role in the manufacturing side" of the old pie. Popham said King might have gone on a scouting mission to the United States but he credited Ah Chee with the concept of the pie. Popham stayed with the company until the 1990s, when McDonald's swallowed up the pie firm. A rumour has it that McDonald's bought Georgie Pie solely for the strategic restaurant location on busy Great South Rd in Auckland. "But it wouldn't have been the sole reason because ultimately we bought 17 of them," said McDonald's spokesman Simon Kenny. Kenny said Popham was McDonald's go-to guy during the relaunch because of his peerless experience with Georgie Pie but said other people, including King, were involved in the set-up. Meanwhile, King was reunited with his crusty old friend last week. "It was good," he said, after trying the pie. "It was pretty much as the same as we used to produce then." Only one thing had changed: "If we'd have sold it for $4.50 we would have made a lot of money." - Herald on Sunday

Kiwi claims he was tortured in China

Kiwi claims he was tortured in China By Lincoln Tan 6:04 PM Wednesday Jul 17, 2013 Nick Wang. File photo / APN A Chinese New Zealander who entered China illegally to see his elderly parents claims he was detained, chained and tortured for five days before being deported to Auckland. Nick Wang, 52, a former Wellington- based Chinese newspaper editor, believes he has been black-listed by Beijing and said his application for a visa to visit his homeland had been declined 18 times in the last 10 years. Desperate to see his sick 88-year-old father and 85-year-old mother one last time, he changed his name by deed poll to Whakakingi Danzangiin Gonpo - but still failed to get a visa under his new passport identity. "I decided that the only way I could my parents again is to enter China illegally, through Mongolia," said Mr Wang. "It's a big risk and I got caught, but that does not give them the right to treat me like an animal." He managed to get to his parents' home in Hohhot, but was tracked down and arrested after three days. Mr Wang alleged that for five days after being arrested, he was handcuffed, chained and interrogated at the Hohhot Detention Centre in Inner Mongolia. Article continues below Mr Wang said authorities would not let him rest or have a toilet break. "I was not given a chance to call my family or lawyer, and they wouldn't let me sleep," he said. Comment was being sought from Chinese officials on his claims. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing was notified of Mr Wang's detention last Friday, two days after his arrest. "In terms of our formal consular agreement with China, the embassy is required to be notified within three days if a New Zealand citizen is arrested, committed to prison or custody pending trail or is detained in any manner," the spokesperson said. "The embassy proceeded to arrange a consular visit to Hohhot to check on his well-being and to extend consular assistance." The spokesperson said Mr Wang spoke to staff at the embassy in Beijing about his treatment in detention after he was deported back to New Zealand on Monday. "If he makes a formal complaint, the ministry can advise Mr Whakakingi (Wang) on an appropriate course of action." Mr Wang moved to New Zealand 21 years ago, and started the Capital Chinese News in 1998. In 2002, his relationship with the Chinese Embassy in Wellington soured after he covered the visit of Wei Jingsheng, a Chinese democracy campaigner who was jailed in China for 18 years. In 2004, he again angered the embassy for running a full- page spread with pictures of tanks to mark the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Despite being an accredited press gallery journalist, Mr Wang was blocked from entering Parliament for a photo opportunity with visiting Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan in 2007. Mr Wang rejected suggestions that he was a Falun Gong member, but said he practised a form of qigong called Soaring Crane. Immigration New Zealand said Mr Wang had "made claims concerning his treatment in China" to an Immigration staff member at Auckland Airport after he arrived on a China Southern flight. "Details have been passed on to MFAT as the appropriate agency to deal with such a complaint," said Immigration spokeswoman Rachel Purdom. Mr Wang said he planned to meet Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission before deciding whether to lodge a formal complaint through the ministry. By Lincoln Tan Email Lincoln

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meme Churton

Meme Churton, a confident half-Chinese and half-Italian, had a unique upbringing before arriving in New Zealand. She lived through the devastation of WWII and later worked as a diplomat during the Chinese Revolution. After she married a Kiwi soldier, she moved to Auckland in 1950, where she managed an art gallery, ran a coffee house and lectured at the University. A whirlwind of vigour and energy at 87-years-old, Churton admitted to frequently having to remind herself of her age. Rightly so; it's hard to believe such an exquisitely groomed woman could be old enough to remember the early days of fascist Italy. Read more:

Artist Jon Chapman-Smith

New works blend Kiwiana with traditional Chinese art 01 October 2007 Artist Jon Chapman-Smith's digital on canvas and wood and acrylic cuts mix influences from his Chinese and European heritage with a distinctly New Zealand flavour. His exhibition of new works entitled Full Circle opens at Ponsonby's Letham Gallery on 12 October and runs for two weeks.The collection of 20 pieces include stylised hand-drawn digital designs on canvas and laser cut from Kauri and acrylic. Chapman-Smith has taken a modern approach using digital tools to cut out his original illustrations in the wood and acrylic. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from traditional Chinese Taoist art and art nouveau. The pieces depict life stories through symbols and imagery. One of the intricate wood cuts called Smoko is shaped like a shearing hand piece and depicts Chapman Smith's father shearing a sheep. Another in the shape of a crayfish is entitled Kai Moana and includes a scallop shell, a tui, crabs and waves. This exhibition's central image Cultural Fusion is a circle design. At its centre is the Chinese good luck symbol branching out in an intricate pattern of a stylized Koru and Maori design representing life and growth. "The whole show is about cultural mix," says Chapman-Smith, "which is indicative of my upbringing." Chapman-Smith, whose father was of Irish descent, was brought up on a sheep farm in coastal Te Akau, north of Raglan in what he describes as "a pretty awesome upbringing" before coming to Auckland at the age of 10 to board at Dilworth School. "As a boy I used to do a lot of tattoo designs and wood carving. I used the tools from around the farm like my Dad's angle grinder to make bone carvings." Once in Auckland at boarding school, weekends were spent at his Nonna's - his mother's mother, Meme Churton - house in Parnell. She was half-Chinese, half-Italian and ran the first art gallery in Auckland's Symonds Street called The Gallery. She also owned the first cafes Auckland had seen, first Ca do'ro and then later the better known Trieste in Wakefield Street back in the late '50s. Meme mixed with artists like Colin McCahon, Pat Hanley, Don Binney and Robert Ellis to name a few and had an extensive art collection. "When you see my work a lot of it has been influenced at an early age by what saw on her wall - the use of colour, hard lines and classic Chinese prints are reflected in all of my artwork now," says Chapman-Smith. "Her place was a bit like a museum," he says. "She had a lot of Chinese scrolls and carvings plus a lot of contemporary New Zealand art." Chapman-Smith has a design and fine arts background. He graduated from Unitec with a Bachelor of Design majoring in graphic design and now runs a graphic design business call Fuman based in Auckland city. When: 12-26 October 2007 Where: Letham Gallery, 35 Jervois Road, Ponsonby, Auckland 1/10/07

MEME launch at Gus Fisher Gallery

Memé Churton is an ebullient and colourful character who, in the course of her lifetime, witnessed the rise of Fascism and became embroiled in the Communist Revolution. My old friend, former colleague and publisher David Ling paid warm tribute to “an extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman with a great zest for life”, when he launched her memoir Memé: The Three Worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander at a crowded Gus Fisher Gallery on Wednesday evening. David talked about Memé’s “almost accidental visit to New Zealand in the early 1950s at the invitation of a New Zealand soldier she had met briefly at the end of the war. Of her horror at the lack of sophistication she found here compared with Trieste and Shanghai. Of how she married her soldier and became friends with the literati and intelligentsia of the day, and with prominent politicians and businessmen.” Memé was also a vibrant influence in her own right, helping to transform New Zealand culture in the areas of food, fashion, art and education and a very popular member of the Auckland University staff teaching Italian language and culture for almost 30 years. As behoves Memé’s popularity, many of her family, friends and former students were in the room, including Rene and Michael Fisher, Rosie and Michael Horton, Roger and Shirley Horrocks, Professor Nicholas Tarling and Gil Hanly. David made special mention of Memé’s good friends Roger and Shirley Horrocks “who skilfully transcribed the tapes of her life story that she had carefully recorded and to whom are all indebted.” Memé spoke movingly and with humour about her family and friends who helped her through difficult times, and how she hoped that what she leaves behind will be an “on-going dynasty.” Saturday, October 20, 2012

Meme Churton has had an extraordinary life.

The 86-year-old half-Italian half-Chinese woman grew up in Trieste, Italy, during turbulent times. There was the rise of fascism then the devastation of WWII, followed by a move to China where she witnessed the beginning of the Chinese Revolution. Eventually she ended up in Auckland. In her autobiography Memé, The three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander she describes candidly the various challenges life handed her. "So many things were hard but I have always had a strong sense of destiny and quintessential optimism. "At least two times I could have died during the war but I was not afraid. "I had the most wonderful teenage years. We lived through a terrible period of history, but enjoyed life regardless. "I was loved, cared for and fussed over. I had the life of a little princess. "I was fundamentally Italian. I know I was also Chinese but I was mainly Italian. I always felt like I was a curiosity." The death of her father when she was 8 was a serious blow. Later she was shocked to learn the Chinese woman who brought her up was not her biological mother. "I was so worried people would find out. It's very difficult for the people of today to understand the shame of that." In 1945 she became friends with New Zealand soldier Jock Churton, who was stationed in Trieste. He would become her husband. When her "Chinese mother" decided to move back to China she reluctantly followed. She found work at the Italian Embassy in Nanjing then at the Consulate-General in Shanghai, living the high life among the Italian diplomatic community. In 1949 Mao's army entered Shanghai and the situation became increasingly hostile. She arranged a transfer to Hong Kong but while she was waiting for her exit permit she received an invitation from Mr Churton to holiday in Auckland. She arrived in December 1950 and less than three months later, they were married. The adjustment to life here didn't come easily. Even now, the casual nature of New Zealanders bothers her. "It's jarring to me when I go to the opera and see some people dressed up and others who look like they are going on a picnic. "But there are some wonderful things about New Zealand. You feel like you can be yourself here." Ultimately her love for her daughter, three grandsons and great-granddaughter have kept her here. In the early years of her marriage she discovered she had an entrepreneurial streak. In 1955, despite lacking any experience in hospitality, she ran one of the first European-style coffee bars in Auckland called Ca' d'Oro. She also went on to manage a dealer gallery specialising in contemporary local painting. Ad Feedback Meanwhile she helped out at the University of Auckland Italian department, marking papers and teaching part-time. She was eventually offered a fulltime position and stayed until retirement. "I love Italy and my language and history. I love sharing my knowledge with others." She still teaches Italian to groups of students in her home. Teaching helps her mind stay sharp, she says. "I think my brain has become even more acute as I've got older. I seem to have this incredible memory." She intended to record her history for her family and never imagined it would be published. "One of the wonderful things about getting old, assuming you still have your mind, is you discover your true nature. My conclusion is I'm physically and mentally well at this age because I'm a contented old lady and I love life with all its bad and good parts," she says. - © Fairfax NZ News Meme Churton was a 'curiosity' KARINA ABADIA Last updated 05:00 24/10/2012

Meme by Meme Churton

Meme by Meme Churton Published by David Ling Autographed by author Published 2012 This is a unique autobiography by a remarkable woman who tells the story of her amazing life in vivid, personal detail. Meme is half-Italian and half-Chinese and this unusual combination has coloured her personality and the course of her life. Growing up in Italy, she lived through the rise of Fascism and the Second World War. Next she went to China and, while working as a diplomat, found herself in the midst of the Chinese Revolution. Then she travelled to the other side of the world at the invitation of a New Zealand soldier whom she had met at the end of the war. Meme was shocked by the curiously old-fashioned and provincial way of life she found in 1950s New Zealand, but for various reasons she stayed, got married, and became involved in a variety of campaigns to enlarge its culture. She managed one of the first dealer art galleries, started one of its first European-style coffee bars, championed international cuisine, promoted fashion for women and taught Italian language and culture at the University of Auckland. Meme's account offers rich insights into New Zealand social history and entertaining stories about the colourful people with whom she worked and partied. Her return visits to China have kept her in touch with the huge social changes in that country. Above all, the book tracks Meme's lifetime quest to compare and understand the three cultures that have made up her life - Italian, Chinese and the Anglo-Saxon aspects of New Zealand. Her memoir is brilliantly written, vivid and fast-moving, and has a breath-taking reach and depth. With an unforgettable personality, Meme is vivacious, charismatic and frank in her opinions - and she has a unique perspective enriched by her inside knowledge of three cultures. She is a great storyteller with a wealth of absorbing stories to tell.

Meme Churton

Michele Hewitson interview: Meme Churton By Michele Hewitson 5:30 AM Saturday Oct 20, 2012 The extraordinary memoir of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander is full of misery, miserliness and affairs. She arrived by flying boat in a land where houses smelled like mutton and cauliflower and women dressed badly. On Wednesday morning, Meme Churton came to the door of her Mission Bay townhouse impeccably made up, exquisitely groomed and accessorised from head-to-elegantly clad toes. She is 86 and still beautiful. She has always been beautiful, and exotic. She is half-Italian and half-Chinese and has lived, on and off, in New Zealand since the day she arrived here, by flying boat, at Evans Bay in Wellington, on December 21, 1950. She might be just a tiny bit of a New Zealander now. She said, about two minutes after we arrived, "S***!", in a broad New Zealand accent and sat down abruptly. But I am getting ahead of myself here. How to describe her life? She has done so in an extraordinary memoir - Meme: The Three Worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander (David Ling, $39.99) - which she says she wrote because of "peer pressure". People have been nagging her to write her story since, oh, about 1950, because they didn't understand quite a few things about her life. Such as how her Chinese father came to be living in Trieste. "Long story." And how she then ended up living in China with her Chinese mother who had bound feet and was not her biological mother. "Long story." And how she came to be living in New Zealand married to a man called Jock Churton who ... No, let's save the very long story of the marriage until I've caught my breath, if I ever do. She went on to manage one of Auckland's first dealer galleries and was friends with many artists who went on to become our most famous art names. She started one of the first coffee bars which didn't sell stale scones and soggy filled rolls and did sell proper coffee and gloriously European cakes. Despite not having a degree, she taught Italian at the University of Auckland for nearly 30 years. Despite being about four foot (122cm) high (I did ask, but she just said she'd shrunk a bit), she has always been a larger-than-life character. And what she has never been, and was most certainly not, in 1950 when she arrived - and shortly afterwards went to a socialist party, where the menu was mutton birds and kegs of beer, wearing her Dior dress, leopard skin coat and pearls - was the sort of woman many New Zealand women of the time felt comfortable being around. She was a flirt, for one thing. Was! She still is, if flirting means touching people (including women and so including me) and calling them "darling". She said, "Michele, darling, did you realise I've always had men friends in my life?" She has a lovely gravelly smoker's voice and, still, a sometimes precarious and hilarious grasp of English. She would be launching her book the night I went to see her (it has cost $25,000 to have it published but her great friend, philanthropist Gus Fisher, helped her out; she's never had a lot of money of her own, although she's always looked richer than most really rich New Zealand ladies). We went and looked at her outfit for the launch: A pale grey silk Chinese tunic and black velvet trousers. Then she produced, with a flourish, a diamond and ruby brooch in the shape of a frangipani flower. "Is that nice?" It was quite something. "Very nice," she said, emphatically, agreeing with herself; she usually does. This was a gift from (I think; it's a bit tricky to sort out the many complicated relationships in her life) her goddaughter's mother; she had just been to visit them in Jakarta, where they live in an incredible "glass and marbles palace". The brooch is very Meme. She must have looked amazing in 1950. When she arrived in New Zealand she must have been looked at as though she was an alien. She certainly looked upon New Zealanders as aliens. She said: "If I had landed on the moon I would have been less shocked." The houses smelt of mutton and cauliflower. She writes about New Zealand women of the time who, mostly, "dressed abominably, with thick stockings and big cardigans (or 'cardies') as though they were trying to show they were mates with the blokes ... And there was a class of well-to-do ladies whose idea of dressing up was to look as much like the Queen (or the Queen Mother) as they could - long gloves, funny little hat, and a fur thing on the shoulders. And the same woman might well be carrying home a basket of cabbages!" It would be fair to say that many of the women she met regarded her with a degree of suspicion. She wore all of these flamboyant things! "Oh, yes. Not only that: I was flamboyant altogether." I already knew this about her. She is not exactly a household name, but she was something of a name in my family mythology. When the book arrived, I opened it and it fell open on page 127. I told her this when we arrived. And she said: "What is on page 127?" This is: she arrives at Evans Bay to be met by, she thought, Jock Churton, whom she had met in Italy, during the war, and who had invited her to New Zealand. So, "I was greeted by not one, but two men ... a pale Anglo-Saxon with red hair and freckles on his face. The pale one came towards me and, to my surprise, greeted me in French. I replied in English, 'Oh, hello, Jock!' He said, 'Oh, no, no, I'm not Jock, I'm Les Edwards, Jock's best friend." Jock had had to go to Gisborne. I recited this sequence of events back to her and she said, "That's right." Les Edwards, I told her, was my grandfather. This is what caused the "s***!" and the abrupt sitting down. There is also a story about Les taking her home to stay with him, my grandmother, Pat, and their three young children in Ngaio and she walked through the door and asked where the servants were. I already knew this story. My grandmother told it for years. "Oh God! S***! These things are always happening to me! I was very, very close to Les. We loved each other dearly." I knew that too. I already knew that she has always had men friends. She is supposed to have had a fling with my grandfather, but, alas, this does turn out to have been myth. What a shame. "Ha, ha! I did not have an affair with Les. I'd be absolutely honest if I did. We could have, I suppose, because we really loved each other. Oh God! Oh s***! Oh wow!" She learnt this swearing in English from people like my grandfather and his socialist, or commie mates, who swore all the time: "It was part of their rebellion, it was trendy within their group," she writes. "While my knowledge of English was still limited, I had a good ear, and so I soon picked up all those words ... I assumed this was the way New Zealanders spoke. As a consequence, during my first year in the country I swore like a trooper." For some reason I still don't understand after having read the book, she stayed on and married Jock, whom she didn't seem to have ever liked very much; and he didn't seem to like her. They had a child, Sandra, despite her lack of maternal feeling. She said: 'I feel guilty in many ways." Does she really? "No! I don't!" She and her daughter have a "beautiful relationship" now, she says, although Sandra is very religious and she certainly isn't. It might have been a bit difficult having her as a mother. "Yes, because I was so successful in everything I did. And people love me!" That was rather my point. New Zealand mothers do not, generally speaking, go around saying how successful they are and how everyone loves them! "Of course not, but you see, I did not realise that! For example, we had amazing dinner parties, for 12, 20 people, enormous parties. And I've always been able to cook. Really, I can cook! Even at my age I can still produce a five course meal without any effort whatsoever!" Showing off. "Absolutely!" She probably put garlic in things too. "Lots of garlic! Why do you think I'm so healthy?" She says she is more Chinese these days, some days, than she is Italian although she likes her Italian self more - it is more fun. But she likes being pragmatic and philosophical, which she says she thinks is Chinese. She believes in destiny (but not luck) and she reads the Tao, she said. I didn't know what that was and she said it was like me opening her book at random and finding my grandfather there, on the page. She went and got the book of Tao and made me open it and it came up with something about not being gored by rhinos or torn apart by tigers, or something like that (it is about destiny, I think, but not luck). It all sounded rather good and I was quite pleased but she decided it was meant for her, and pinched it! "I know!" Aah, well, she deserves a good bit of Tao. She didn't have much from her marriage and all of that is laid bare here: The misery and miserliness and the affairs. She says she has a very very long list of his affairs with women. Hers is shorter and, weirdly, despite everyone thinking she was a sex bomb, she says she wasn't ever very interested in sex. But that isn't the really weird bit of her story, which is that one day in 1975 Jock came to her and said he had something to tell her and it was that he was homosexual. Your jaw may well drop when you read this, so imagine how she felt. She writes: "I said, 'But you must be bisexual. Come on, how could you have slept with all these women for so many years?"' "'Oh', he said, 'it's because I made myself do it'." This is completely nuts, I said, and she said, "It's all incongruous". But she doesn't seem to really think so; she just seems to regard it as mildly interesting. She has been good at shrugging things off and getting on, for years and years. There is much more of this madness and drama, but we were out of time. I did want to know what on earth her family thought of the book and she said she gave it to Sandra who gave it back a week later, without comment. She says her grandchildren thanked her for writing it. Thanked her! For telling the world about their awful family! She gave me a look, which may have been Chinese or may have been Italian or maybe just pure Meme, and said: "There were a lot of very strange genes in your family too, my darling!" She said I must come back and she will cook me dinner and tell me all about my strange family. I'd go too. She's every bit as wonderful and naughty and as exotic as the myth. By Michele Hewitson Email Michele

Wooden Man, Stone Heart.

Paul Wah: teaching and China ( 35′ 57″ ) 09:05 Fourth generation Chinese New Zealander and first Chinese to be appointed as principal of a state secondary school in New Zealand; his memoir is Wooden Man, Stone Heart.

A Wooden Man Stone Heart

This book is unique in the genre of New Zealand heritage literature. Written as an autobiography/social documentary Paul Wah explores with uncompomising honesty the experiences of a young Chinese living a cossetted life in a self -sustaining Chinese family in the rural heartland of Feilding and South Taranaki. He looks critically and sometimes painfully at himself, the Chinese family and the cultural conventions and weaknesses that clashed with European values, thereby making integration with the local people difficult. Particularly the predeliction for gambling and the domestic stress caused by arranged marriages among a small community with few females. Dissected in detail is the strained relationship with his father that influenced his values in later life and at a personal level he deals intimately with his conflicts over interracial marriage and the difficulty of finding true love with a Chinese girl. During the 1940's period the author chafed about the social and occupational racial discrimination that was the norm in society, these he examines in some detail. He found that by participating in team sports such as cricket and rugby a window of opportunity opened to share in what was a white man's world . A two year stint as a boarder at Wellington College convinced him that the pathway to a fulfilling future lay in leaving the protection of the Chinese enclave to live an integrated way of life and compete for work in the wider community. Simultaneously the experience also exposed personal inadequacies such as an inferiority complex, race conflicts and no career motivation or study skills. He left school intent on reinventing himself in order to live a better life, initiailly working as technical trainee in the DSIR and spending a year labouring in a freezing works and on the wharf, to finance his tertiary studies. At university, without sufficient funding he found study hard, but fortunately made friends amongst many of Wellington's radical, intellectual fringe. From pub and party meetings with people such as JK Baxter, James Ritchie and Conrad Bollinger he learnt much about poltics, religion, philosophy, current affairs and alternative lifestyles, gaining the social and intellectual confidence to provide a platform for future personal growth. After a seemingly aimless period in his life, beset with unresolvable relationship problems he enrolled at Wellington Teachers College and fortuitously found a satisfying career that allowed him an outlet for the socialist sympathies he had nurtured as a student. Coincidentally, during the post war 1950 -1970's period, the weakened boundaries of racial discrimination allowed Chinese entry into professions and other occupations, but leadership positions in public companies, government departments and schools were slow to be offered and seldom sought by Chinese who tended to take low profile behind the scenes posts. In Wooden Man Stone Heart Paul Wah describes his unusual pathway to the top of secondary education. To be a successful teacher meant showing professional competence in the classroom but to win a Principal's position in competition with Europeans required a range of social and communication skills rare amongst Chinese of that era. Of particular importance to his development was with the 22 Club, a public speaking and debating society where he won national honours despite encountering racist attacks from his Irish opponents. While he experienced no hostility as a classroom teacher, his seeking promotion to become a Principal brought to the surface the old scourge of race discrimination. He writes frankly about the difficulties encountered by a young teacher during times of full employment when many students did not value education and his angst over the use of corporal punishment. A change in school policy requiring teaching unstreamed classes brought him into conflict with his Principal. He writes candidly of his time as a Deputy Principal serving under a reluctant Principal and of the stresses involved when later he won appointment as the first Chinese Secondary Principal. His former school, Taita College struggled against handicaps of poor previous leadership, uncertain student intakes, inadequate state and community funding and battles to recruit quality staff. He descibes the the steps taken to restore the school to a position of good standing within the community and with the education authorities. It was the melding of his European and Confucian values together with experience from his family business background that brought him ultimate success. He concludes that racial prejudice became an incentive to overachieve and the best aspects of his Chinese upbringing, work ethic and self reliance became the philosophical platform for shaping school policy. The final section of the book covers the time he spent teaching English at the Shanghai University of International Studies in China. In 1988/89 where there was considerable civil and student dissatisfaction over restrictions to personal freedom, widespread official corruption and rampant inflation. These issues led to the 'Freedom and Democracy' demonstations in Beijing and Shanghai, culminating in the Tian An Men Square shootings. It was in Shanghai and Beijing, shortly after the TIan An Men incident, that he became involved in potentially life threatening situations with demonstrating crowds and security police. He comments on the reaction of Chinese colleagues and friends to living in a Communist State and also the mindset of his students as they braced for rebellion against an all powerful government. During August 2012, he made arrangements for his book to be published in China by the government owned Shanghai No 10 Printing Works but was informed by management that the book had been banned for publication and sale in China. The reasons given were that he had made disparaging comments about the Communist government and had included photographs of demonstating students. Paul Wah is a 4th generation Chinese New Zealander born in 1932. He is married to Shirley with 3 adult children. He attended Victoria University and holds BSc and BA degrees. Paul was the Principal of Taita College from 1978 to 1985, and a visiting teacher of English at Shanghai International Studies University in 1988/89.

Paul Wah's autobiography tackles education, racism

A former principal of Taita College has written a no-holds-barred autobiography and "social documentary" tackling education, discrimination and the scourge of gambling. Wooden Man, Stone Heart, by Paul Wah, is a highly readable account of how a shy and bullied Chinese boy who grey up in a rural town pushed himself to succeed in European New Zealand society. He says the person who proof-read his original 260,000 word version told him "print this, and you'll be sued". He cut it back by about a half because his publisher advised it was too long to sell well, but he was determined not to pull his punches. He wanted to tell his story but also "get issues I feel strongly about out in the open". He is not worried by legal aspects "because it's the truth - admittedly as I saw it". Mr Wah, now 80, has packed a lot into his life but Hutt people may be particularly interested in the 22 years he was at Taita College (1962 to 1985). When he started teaching science and maths at Taita College - at the same time his family was running The Martinique Cafe in Naenae to make ends meet - the no-nonsense Syd Rockel was principal and the school was doing reasonably well. But by the early 1970s, Mr Wah says pressure was put on the college by social changes, an influx of Maori families and - with no zoning - the growing tendency of Hutt Valley High School and to a lesser extent Naenae College to grab the brightest pupils from Taita and Stokes Valley. Mr Wah says the next two principals were unsuitable and out of their depth. Taita College was "moribund" and a "shambles" by 1976, its roll - particularly the crucial third form intake - slipping into a "D" funding category that would require half a dozen staff to be let go. He had proved himself as an able deputy, but his application for the top job had already been overlooked once when the post came up again in 1977. But would the board have the courage to appoint a Chinese principal? He writes: "By the 70s, race relations in New Zealand had greatly improved. "Europeans allowed Chinese to wash their shirts, sell them vegetables, cut out their diseased appendixes, teach their children Chemistry and prop up their incompetent principals, but appointment to an influential position and principal of a city secondary school was another matter. Ad Feedback "A principal could shape the careers of teachers, model the school ethos, influence the award of University Entrance and be of pivotal community importance. "It was a moot point whether my time had arrived." His was a practical approach. A typical example: To defuse a bitter and escalating stand-off between Maori and Pakeha factions in the school, he allowed a wrestling match between the protagonists that proved enough of a vent to settle things down. While Taita College's roll stabilised, even today Mr Wah has strong feelings about state secondary education, and the continuing "David and Goliath" fight between the "struggling" Taita and Naenae Colleges v Hutt Valley High School serving the wealthy parts of town. While today there is zoning, there are too many loopholes. He says if the Government is serious about a high standard of state education, it should put the schools on a more even playing field using extra funding, strict zoning and appointment of school leaders who are "visionary". Instead, the focus is on performance pay for teachers and, in the primary sector, National Standards, both of which Mr Wah believes "have as many pluses and minuses". He considers performance pay a "red herring" and potentially divisive. For an astute principal there are a number of ways to reward teachers who make an extra effort anyway. "Any teacher who came into my school that was any good was seized on and avenues created for their promotion". A firm believer in "streaming" classes according to pupils' abilities - "a practice that just about cost me my job [as principal]" - Mr Wah believes the key factor in education, and especially tackling the 20 per cent low-achieving pupil "tail" - is what happens in the home. Getting parents engaged and understanding it cannot just be all left up to schools, requires a shift of mindset in New Zealand society, "and the Government should be taking the lead". Mr Wah struggled with the issue of corporal punishment. Philosophically, he was dead against it and hated administering the cane. But he admits that for some "wreckers" in the classroom, it was the only thing they would respond to. While it is too late to re-introduce corporal punishment in schools - "that was an era of hard labour in prisons, no parole . . . society has moved on now" - he says it is an irony that the social reformers and sociologists who crusaded against the cane now decry the only other harsh sanction left to principals today - expulsion. With little else to tackle the disrupters, we have "layers and layers of caregivers, counsellors and [ultimately] jailers". "If that's society's stance it has to pay for it." Mr Wah's book also covers his time with the Department of Education and as a school inspector, and his distaste for the "political correctness" and "laziness" around tackling problems in Maori education. He taught in China at a Shanghai University in the late 1980s, at a time of huge civil unrest, official corruption and rampant inflation - pressures that culminated in the Tiananmen Square square shootings. If some educationalists will not appreciate his book, neither will some in the local Chinese community, he says. He speaks out about the Chinese love of gambling - a grandfather lost his business in a Mah Jong game, and his father squandered money the family could ill afford backing horses. He rebelled against a tradition that females and children acquiesce and keep their heads down. Arranged marriages frequently did not work. Rugby - one of the few activities that was "colour-blind" in his day - was a saviour from bullying at school. "When I played well the whole town knew about it; when I played poorly, it wasn't because I was Chinese." About 130 people, including some from Australia, have accepted invitations to the launch of Mr Wah's book at The Dowse on November 26. It will be available after that from Paper Plus Lower Hutt for $32. - Hutt News SIMON EDWARDS Last updated 09:56 20/11/2012

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Prejudice main fear behind calls to restrict foreign home ownership

By Anne Gibson @Anne Gibson 5:30 AM Tuesday Jul 9, 2013 Kai Luey advocates restricting foreigners buying New Zealand houses - but he has big concerns about anti-Asian prejudice. Asians are a big target, particularly when it comes to house-buying fears, the Auckland Chinese community leader said. "You want to help the new home owners and people trying to live in New Zealand so yes, I think there should be restrictions. I've lived here all my life - 72 years, apart from 12 years in Australia - and I have seen considerable prejudices in the past." New Zealanders should remember China's importance to this country, Mr Luey said. "China is New Zealand's biggest trading partner and New Zealand is part of the global economy. People get emotional about things. Yet the statistics show Australians are the biggest foreign buyers, not Chinese. And people buying up big properties and lifestyle blocks are rich Americans," he said, referring to Hollywood director James Cameron and others. "It's all hype and people don't look at the facts or the bigger picture," he said. Arthur Loo, Auckland Chinese Community Centre chairman and a property lawyer, agrees. His beef is the sheer lack of Auckland houses and huge demand which he says is a far bigger problem than foreign buyers. "I've yet to hear of a New Zealander saying 'some idiot Chinese paid too much for my house'," says Mr Loo, who has a number of overseas-based clients buying houses here. He opposes suggestions that we follow Australia and allow foreigners to buy only new houses. By Anne Gibson @Anne Gibson 5:30 AM Tuesday Jul 9, 2013

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Trifecta of friends until the end

Dorothy Gee (Nee Chan/Bing) Molly Ting (nee Low) Dolly Wong nee Chan?)

Trifecta of friends until the end

Dolly Wong, b Wellington, October 28, 1911; m Willie Wong, Shatou Village, southern China, August 9, 1931; 2s, 3d; d May 25, 2013, Lower Hutt, aged 101. Molly Ting, b Blenheim, November 3, 1911; m Joseph Ting, Wellington, 1933; 2s, 1d; Lower Hutt, June 4, 2013, aged 101. Dorothy Gee, b Patea, January 25, 1921; m George Gee Wellington, October 7, 1940; 1s, 1d; d Lower Hutt, May 25, 2013, aged 92. Dolly Wong, Molly Ting and Dorothy Gee were three lifelong friends who all lived in the Shona McFarlane Retirement Village in Avalon before dying within 10 days of each other. The three New Zealand-born Chinese women were related and had family links to the village of Sungai, outside Guangzhou in Southern China's Pearl River Delta region. Dolly Wong's father and Dorothy Gee's grandfather were brothers while Molly Ting and Dolly Wong, who both lived for 101 years, were sisters-in-law. To the end of their days the three women exhibited many of the small village life communal values inherited from their adventurous ancestors. They personified three classic common Chinese values throughout their lives by working hard for their communities, helping run family businesses and encouraging family and friends. Where they differed from the traditional Chinese grandmothers was that they all refused to live with their families in later life. They opted instead for an independent retirement village. All three led highly productive lives working alongside their hard-working husbands. Dolly Wong (nee Yuet Wun Chin Ting) and her husband, Willie Wong, ran a fruit and vege business in Naenae from 1956-76 following an earlier 20-year stint running the general store at Utiku, on State Highway 1. Dorothy Gee was the wife of George Gee, Petone mayor between 1968 and 1980, and the couple ran their busy fruit and vege shop in Jackson St, Petone. Molly Ting's father-in-law, James Chin Ting, owned and operated a market garden on the land where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now stands in Moxham Ave, Hataitai. The Tings' highly successful Hataitai market garden supplied products for the family's Yee Chong Wing and Te Aro Seeds businesses, which operated (up to 1984) from premises on the corner of Courtenay Place and Tory St. DOLLY WONG Wong was educated at Clyde Quay school in Wellington before moving with her parents to China, where she completed her education at a Chinese school in Guangzhou. While on this trip she met and married her husband, Willie Wong, in Shatou before returning to New Zealand in 1931. The couple settled in Taihape and in 1937 bought the general store in Utiku at the bottom of the then very windy Mangaweka Hill. The couple spent 13 happy years in this small rural community until 1950 when their older son, Ken, a dux of Whanganui Technical College, drowned while on a fishing trip with a friend in the Rangitikei River. The tragedy saw the family return to Wellington in 1951 for a new start. Willie Wong worked at Te Aro Seeds temporarily before setting up a Naenae fruit and vege shop business. Ad Feedback He sold the shop in 1976 and died in 1996. Dolly Wong continued to live in the family's home in High St, Lower Hutt, until buying her studio unit at the Shona McFarlane home in 2001. MOLLY TING Ting (nee Low) was born in Blenheim 101 years ago as the fourth child in a family of eight. Her parents migrated from China and set up the Chong Lee and Co fruit and vegetable business in Market St, Blenheim. She left Marlborough College, aged 15, so she could work in the family fruit and vege shop. She married Joseph Ting at St Mark's Church, , the Basin Reserve in Wellington, in 1933. She lived at the Ting family's market gardens in Moxham Ave, Hataitai, before she and Joseph moved in to their own home at Strathmore, in Wellington's eastern suburbs. In this home the Tings raised two sons and a daughter. Joseph Ting died in 1972 and Molly Ting decided to join her sister-in-law Dolly Wong as a resident of the Shona McFarlane home in 2001. DOROTHY GEE Gee was the eldest of seven children born to Charles and Ping Soon Bing in southern Taranaki. In 1934 the family, like a lot of Chinese New Zealanders then, returned to China to complete their education. They stayed there for three years but the Japanese invasion of Manchuria resulted in a decision to return to New Zealand, where they settled in Blenheim. In 1940, Dorothy Bing married George Gee and settled in Petone, where they ran their fruit and vege business in Jackson St. Dorothy Gee was very much an equal partner in the business and in the early days even got her heavy truck licence. The couple took an active part in the community and in 1968 George was elected mayor of Petone (New Zealand's first Chinese mayor). After her husband died in 1984, Dorothy remained active until 2007 when she followed in the footsteps of Dolly Wong and Molly Ting by checking herself in to the Shona McFarlane Retirement Village. She died on the same day as Dolly Wong. For a time Molly Ting, Dolly Wong and Dorothy Gee all shared a meal table at their Avalon retirement village – three hardworking women whose ancestors left the most densely populated country on Earth to create a better life for their families in a sparsely populated land at the bottom of the world. Sources: Robert Ting, Brian Gee, Priscilla Cheung, Helene Wong, Carolyn Sang and Raymond Young. - © Fairfax NZ News TIM DONOGHUE Last updated 05:00 06/07/2013