Recent research in Cantonese Chinese history in New Zealand

An extra special Melbourne Chinese Studies Group seminar in November to coincide with Dragon Tails 2011.

Date: Monday, 14 November 2011

Time: 6pm

Admission: $2

Venue: Hayden Raysmith Room, 4th Floor, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (between Swanston and Elizabeth Sts)

Topic: Recent Research in Cantonese Chinese History in New Zealand

Speaker: James Ng, Dunedin

This talk recounts categories of recent or impending publications and film on the New Zealand Cantonese, with many of the works assisted by the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Fund. They have a broad range of subjects, and exemplify how one significant work acts as a springboard for another. Presently the works have reached a volume and depth amply sufficient to support the Cantonese as a longstanding ethnic minority of value which arrived early in goldfield times and have a rightful place in New Zealand. However, one cannot say that the Cantonese story has been comprehensively told, particularly as to how they lived in China and early New Zealand. Also poorly told is their thinking as sojourners and when they changed from sojournism to settlement in New Zealand. Until these aspects are clarified, effectiveness in their purpose and as a people cannot be fully ascertained. This will require more writings on and by them, especially of a biographical nature.

James Ng of Cantonese origin is a retired family doctor from Dunedin in Otago, New Zealand. Between 1993–1998 while still working in his practice he published the 4 volume Windows on a Chinese Past, which recorded Cantonese history in New Zealand. The late Henry Chan told the story of his hitchhiking in inland Otago in 1960 and being picked up by Jim who was searching out Chinese ruins and graves on his honeymoon! Jim is credited with publicising the recognition of the Chinese role in southern New Zealand. To commemorate the importance of the early Chinese, he initiated the building of Dunedin’s acclaimed Chinese Garden which was completed in 2008. In 2005–2010 Jim was appointed the founding Chairman of the Government-funded Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Fund which aims to encourage Cantonese language, literature, history and heritage. From this perspective he will present an overview of recent research in New Zealand-Cantonese history and general literature.

Talk followed by an informal, inexpensive meal in a nearby Chinatown restaurant.

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