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Who is a Chinese New Zealander?

December 27, 2012

This is a difficult question, I think. It is relevant to study of Alison Wong’s As the Earth Turns Silver, though…. Just to give an idea of how it might be approached… here is one definition (from Nigel Murphy and Lynette Shum):

“…who is a Chinese New Zealander? One must define who one is studying before one can study them, surely. My definition of ‘Chinese New Zealander’ is based on the one used by the Prime Minister in her apology to the Chinese community last year, which was “those people who paid the poll tax and their descendants.” This definition therefore means the old Chinese New Zealand community, the community whose parents and grandparents paid the poll tax and those [-p.2] who had arrived in New Zealand the 15 years before the tax, the community that has its roots way back in the gold-rush days of the 1860s, the community that has been in New Zealand for over 140 years.” (pp.1-2)

Ref: Nigel Murphy, Lynette Shum ‘UNSMELTERED GOLD, UNCUT JADE’: SOURCES AND RESOURCES FOR THE STUDY OF HISTORY OF CHINESE NEW ZEALANDERS Victoria University of Wellington Stout Research Centre Seminars ‘Chinese New Zealand’ March-June 2003

But there are other ways of thinking about New Zealand’s chineseness… refer also  in which Brian Moloughney points out that “…elements of Chineseness are part of all of our lives, whether w e be ethnically Chinese or not. And I think this has been the case, in varying degrees to be sure, from even before the time that Chinese were invited to Otago in the 1860s. We know that settlers from Britain had already internalised aspects of Chineseness even before coming to NZ, and so much so that these things came to be de-linked from their Chinese roots. The most obvious example of this, of course, is tea and all the culture associated w ith it. The popular consumption of commodities like tea linked New Zealand into commercial networks that focussed directly on south China, but, as I said earlier, these connections remain largely unexplored. But it is not just the commercial networks that need attention, there are also the cultural worlds that relate to these commodities….” (p.11)


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