|Te Papa Tongarewa exhibition to tell story of Chinese Migrants|
|Written by Lachlan|
|Sunday, 22 July 2007|
Te Papa Tongarewa exhibition to tell story of Chinese migrants in New Zealand
Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand being built on the Wellington waterfront will be opened in February 1998. One of the major exhibit themes being developed at present is The Peopling of New Zealand to tell the story of human occupation of these islands. Pride of place will go to the story of Maori migration and European colonisation; however there is to be an area devoted to telling the story of Chinese migration. This will be in the form of a "temporary" exhibition which will be on display for one year. At the end of that period, it is proposed that the display will tour the country, and perhaps be set up in each of the other main centres. It will be replaced by a display telling the story of another ethnic group. The Chinese exhibit will be the first of these "temporary" displays and will open on the same day as the main Museum. This is a significant honour and recognises the importance of the Chinese as a migrant group.
The planning for the Museum project is a major undertaking, and many, many people from the Government, the Museum of New Zealand as well as the Museum's consultant team are involved. However from this large group about six professional historians and Museum staff have had a direct input into the Chinese exhibition. The people involved are Jock Phillips, Lyndon Fraser, Michael Fitzgerald, Fiona Hall, Jane Martin and Sharon Jansen.
Other people, Chinese and non-Chinese, from around NZ, including Manying Ip, James Ng and Nigel Murphy have contributed their knowledge, research data, information sources and contacts to the Chinese exhibition. In addition, a group of Chinese in Wellington have met regularly with the professional Museum staff to help plan the exhibition and to provide community and cultural input. This groups includes: Kirsten Wong, David Fung, Lynette Shum, Chris Cheng, Esther Fung and Steven Young.
Museum staff have travelled widely throughout NZ to interview individuals and family groups, to gather stories, documents, photographs, mementos, artefacts and other exhibit items. They have visited historic sites, streets and buildings and developed an overall sense of the history of the Chinese in NZ.
In the end a chronological approach has been inevitable; accordingly the exhibit will tell the story of the five phases in the story of Chinese migration to NZ. They are:
Within these broad parameters, it has been the task of the group to plan an exhibition which captures the essence of the sociological and political themes and human stories without turning the exhibition into a collection of mementos in glass boxes. The main constraints have been space (about 150 sq metres), accessibility (must be understood by groups of children of aged 12 passing through at walking pace) and robust enough to allow some touching and handling.
The sheer number and diversity of the stories, documents and mementos available has meant that, as a practical necessity, much of what is interesting and even important will have to be omitted - there is simply no room to show everything. It is the intention however to illustrate the threads of the most important historical themes and to capture the essence of the feelings of the times.
As part of the exhibition, there will be a book-quality catalogue published at the same time as the opening of the exhibition. This will contain colour photographs, commentaries, historical essays and stories of interesting Chinese people in NZ.
I have suggested to the Museum staff that this catalogue be further upgraded to a monograph to record even more fully the history of the Chinese in NZ.
The Chinese in NZ can support this project, firstly by encouraging particularly older members of the community to share their experiences, secondly by coming forward with leads which might allow significants documents or artefacts to be located to illustrate the general themes already identified, and thirdly by supporting the publication of a book.
The professional Museum staff involved include:
Other researchers and historians who have contributed include:
The group of Wellington Chinese who have acted in an advisory role include:
First published Wellington Chinese Association Newsletter Sept 1995
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 July 2007 )|
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