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New Zealand Chinese writing

July 2, 2012

In 2003, Dr James Ng gave An overview of New Zealand Chinese writing(Wordstruck Conference. 24/5/03 ), which is still available online… and remains topical…

“Paul Millar in his Stout Centre Lecture has reviewed the status of New Zealand Chinese in this nation’s literature. After quoting extracts, he concluded; ‘the role [the mention] of Chinese New Zealanders in New Zealand literature, while small, has not been inconsequential, nor entirely negative … While they initially feature in the New Zealand settler imagination as alien and threatening, one hopes that the more positive [later] representations are … evidence of a more inclusive, tolerant and mature society. But … for all the improvements, the representations of Chinese New Zealanders in New Zealand literature will be peripheral, until Chinese New Zealanders tell their own stories … I know that there is a lot of work being done collecting evidence and preserving New Zealand Chinese history. But I’d also argue that literature can do something that history can’t do. Literature can create characters, and good characterisations are powerful and seductive … There are stories that we all need to hear, told in a way that [imparts the essence and] takes us beyond the evidence. Not the sensational tales of gold dredging, riots, murder and mayhem. But the way that ordinary people tried to live lives and carve out a future for themselves and their families in this country. In my opinion, literature is the best way to do this … we should all look for and encourage such [writers].”


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