Proposal for consultation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lachlan   
Sunday, 22 July 2007

Proposal for consultation by Counties Associations and other Organisations

Executive Summary

This paper supports the principles underpinning the draft consultation paper
"Proposal for Consultation with Descendants of Chinese Early Settlers Who
Paid the Poll Tax on an Appropriate Form of Reconciliation" - "Righting the
Wrongs of the Past", V2 March 2002, but proposes a separate education
process to ensure that:

· The consultation process will be more effective in providing the "target
group" i.e. "the people who paid the poll tax and their descendants" with
more time to learn about the poll tax, its origins, the intentions of
Government and develop their views as to an appropriate form of
reconciliation.

· The outcomes of the consultation process will be consensus driven and more
robust.

· The overall process will be more acceptable to the target group; it
acknowledges the integrity and standing of the Chinese as a community and
will not be seen as a Government forced initiative on the Chinese community.

· It will demonstrate Government's sincerity and genuine goodwill toward the
Chinese community in closing this sad chapter of New Zealand's history.

· The outcomes will provide a better foundation for New Zealanders to learn
about the history and culture of the early Chinese settlers in New Zealand.


Preamble:

· The Tung Jung Association of New Zealand Inc, the Poon Fah Association of
New Zealand Inc, and the Seyip Association of New Zealand Inc, are community
organizations formed by the early Chinese settlers who paid the Poll Tax
over 80 years ago.  Members of these associations are direct descendants of
the Chinese immigrants who paid the Poll Tax.

· Members of the Wellington Chinese Sports & Cultural Centre Inc and the
Chinese Dragons Sports and Cultural Club Inc are also descendants of the
original Chinese immigrants who paid the Poll Tax.  Both of these
Wellington-based organizations, with members throughout N.Z, were
established some 25 years ago to meet the then changing sporting, social,
and cultural needs of the younger Chinese community. The original reasons
why they were founded remain today.  They continue to provide a range of
different activities for their members.

· Some 1st generation Chinese settlers who paid the poll tax are still
living but membership of these five organisations are predominantly 2nd /3rd
/4th and now 5th generation New Zealand born Chinese descendants.

· The committee representatives of these five Chinese community
organizations are in regular and constant contact with their organizations
and work with them at 'grass roots levels' either through social, sporting,
or generally speaking 'community activities' which are at the center of the
Chinese community e.g. Ching Ming, Chinese New Year, Moon Festivals, Chung
Yueng, sports activities/practices, or sporting tournaments,
funerals/weddings/birthday celebrations, and other activities such as
organized bus tours, garden visits, weekly dance sessions, Yau Yih Yuen
Chinese Pre-School, cultural group activities, community seminars on topics
of interest.

· Through this regular and constant contact with their members - the
committees and representatives of the five organisations can justifiably
claim they are 'in touch' with their members which constitute the sector of
the Chinese community predominantly made up of descendants of the early
Chinese settlers who paid the poll tax.

· Any consultation process about the poll tax must include these people as
of right.  To not focus on the 'descendants of the early settlers who paid
the poll tax and their families' as the 'target group' would be unacceptable
to the Chinese community.

· Representatives of the five organizations are willing to work
constructively with Government and its advisors, including individuals and
organisations in the Chinese community with whom Government has already
sought guidance, to successfully close this sad chapter in New Zealand's
history.


Introduction:

· The principles in the draft consultation paper "Proposal for Consultation
with Descendants of Chinese Early Settlers Who Paid the Poll Tax on an
Appropriate Form of Reconciliation" - "Righting the Wrongs of the Past", V2
March 2002 are supported subject to the inclusion of a separate education
process.

· As discussed at the meeting on Friday 5 April 2002 between representatives
of the five organisations, officials from the Office of Ethnic Affairs and
the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, it is strongly recommended
that the consultation process with the descendants of the early Chinese
settlers will be more effectively managed and satisfactory outcomes arrived
at if the overall process is undertaken and implemented over a longer
timeframe.  The notes recorded by the officials from the Office of Ethnic
Affairs of this meeting indicate considerable agreement between the parties
who attended.


Proposal (three separate phases):

1 Community Education

1. The major purpose here is twofold - to inform the Chinese community of
the range of issues involved with the poll tax and to allow more time to
develop a consensus view of what form the reconciliation should take.  Given
the nature and characteristics of the Chinese community this educative
process is not one that can be rushed.  Community meetings would be held
facilitated by local representatives of the Chinese communities, with the
assistance of Government officials through providing information packages
and resources.

2. How this is done must take into account the characteristics of the
Chinese community as outlined in the paper tabled by Allen Chang at the
meeting 5 April 2002, supported by Steven Young's paper 'Poll Tax Apology
and Recommendation' paper, also tabled at the meeting.  Whilst the content
of these two papers is very brief, they identify some of the characteristics
of the early Chinese that must be considered and as an integral part of this
overall reconciliation process.  Any consultation with Chinese must be in a
culturally acceptable manner. There should be no repeat for instance of
offending the descendants of the early Chinese settlers as happened when the
Prime Minister apologised and her speech was translated into Mandarin.  This
showed a lack of planning and consultation.   Papers attached.

3. Easily read and understood information in a variety of format needs to be
developed (and managed by the Office of Ethnic Affairs), with comment and
involvement from representatives of the early Chinese settlers.  This
information should contain historical information such as the reasons why
the poll tax was first introduced in 1881, its impact on families and
communities, the background to the poll tax events e.g. the raising of the
payment from ten pounds to one hundred pounds and the more recent events
leading to the apology on February 12 2002, the underlying reasons why
government chose to make the apology given the events of 1944, its
significance to the international community and details on how to make
written and verbal submissions with templates for use.

4. Facilitators from all areas/districts would be nominated or selected by
the local Chinese communities within New Zealand to run these separate
community education meetings. These people must possess the skills and
ability to enable them to communicate with and have the confidence of their
local communities to assist with the presentation of information and lead
the community education (and consultation) meetings.  These facilitators
must be respected and have the confidence of Chinese elders.  They need to
be versed in the traditional Chinese customs and values and ideally be able
to demonstrate a direct family link with the early Chinese settlers.

5. Where the Chinese community is 'small in number' facilitators from out of
the local district may be required to lead these community education (and
later consultation) meetings.  The needs of the local communities will
dictate the form of these meetings and the way in which the education
process in that community is conducted.

6. The facilitators will need to be well briefed (and be consistent with
each other) through being brought to a central venue (e g Wellington) or a
central venue within a district (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) as to:

· Ensure clarity of their role,
· Know the purpose of the meetings,
· Develop ways and means of approaching and achieving their specific tasks,
· Know what support and resources they would have available,
· Plan their time to complete this assignment

7. Translators who can speak the three Cantonese dialects of Seyip, Poon
Yue, and Jung Sen may be needed to support and accompany the facilitators at
community education meetings (and also the consultation meetings in the
future). It cannot be assumed that all Chinese; particularly the older
people will understand and speak English fluently. Nor can be it assumed
that all English speaking facilitators can speak all or any of the Cantonese
dialects.

8. Ideally all facilitators should attend the same briefing meeting in
Wellington.

9. The facilitators - who should not be the same people, who organize and
arrange the community education meetings, would report back to OEA and the
local Chinese organisations with an evaluation and report of the meeting
they facilitated.  A single evaluation/report form for all facilitators to
complete on how the information provided, format of the meetings was
received, numbers attending, can be developed for this purpose.

10. Facilitators must emphasise and impress upon people attending these
meetings that 'the first meeting is simply an information updating meeting',
with the expectation that the Chinese community will continue their
discussions outside of formal meetings that will eventually lead towards
formulating either group, family, or individual views.

11. One of the functions of the facilitators will be to advise the Chinese
community that meetings with officials will be held later to formally seek
their views and feedback as to what would be considered as 'reconciliation".


2 Community Consultation

1. The second stage of the consultation process could then follow as set out
in the draft paper "Proposal for Consultation with Descendants of Chinese
Early Settlers Who Paid the Poll Tax on an Appropriate Form of
Reconciliation" - "Righting the Wrongs of the Past", V2 March 2002 (but with
changes to timelines, meeting procedures, advertising, organization,
facilitators, recorders, interpreters, and outcomes).

2. An analysis of the outcomes and views presented at the local meetings
will be made by a panel of nominated representatives of the 'target group'
working with Government officials, and communicated to the Chinese
community.  Key themes can then be used as the basis of deciding what form
of action the reconciliation could take.

3. When agreement has been reached at this stage of the consultation process
the outcomes and recommendations be tabled and debated in Parliament to
formalize the Prime Minister's Apology on 12 February 2002.

4. This formalisation in Parliament is necessary because the:

· Poll Tax Act 1881 was passed into law in Parliament,

· Action was taken to abolish the Poll Tax Act in Parliament in 1944, and it
therefore follows that,

· The Apology given by the Prime Minister on February 12 2002 to the early
Chinese settlers for 'the injustices caused to the Chinese community through
the implementation of the Poll Tax Act 1881' should also be 'lawfully'
formalised in Parliament - thus binding all political parties to the
reconciliation process.

Note: This formalisation in Parliament would gain the respect of the Chinese
community and the wider New Zealand community.  It would be a clear
indication of Government's sincerity in making the apology to the people who
paid the poll tax and their descendants.


3 Reconciliation


1. Implementation of the agreed outcomes can then commence, with a
transparent timeline and requirement on all parties to meet these/their
obligations.

2. A monitoring/supervisory group comprising representatives from the
designated government agencies/departments and the 'target group' needs be
established for this purpose of ensuring action and results are achieved
within the timeframes to be set.

3. This group would be subject to audit and report regularly to Government
and the Chinese community on progress towards achieving the agreed outcomes.


Conclusion

1. Given that Government has confirmed again that:

· a consultation process will be implemented, and that

· it is not linked to dates surrounding a possible election (meeting 5 April
2002),

a relaxation of the timelines set out in the draft consultation paper
"Proposal for Consultation with Descendants of Chinese Early Settlers Who
Paid the Poll Tax on an Appropriate Form of Reconciliation" - "Righting the
Wrongs of the Past", V2 March 2002, to include a community education process
as a separate part of the overall process will allow time for more people to
be educated and informed about the poll tax and ultimately this will provide
a more sustainable solution to the poll tax issue.

2. The actions proposed in this paper preserve the "mana" of the Chinese as
a people, by ensuring that they are given plenty of opportunity to have
their say and not be told by others what the outcome is going to be.

3. Implementing this proposal from the five organisations will overcome the
criticisms being made about the poll tax events of 2001; the lack of
transparency, the lack of proper consultation and the indecent haste with
which the process leading to the apology was undertaken.


Allen Chang

On behalf of the:

Tung Jung Association of NZ Inc
Seyip Association of NZ Inc
Poon Fah Association of NZ Inc
Wellington Chinese Sports and Cultural Centre Inc
Chinese Dragons Sports and Social Club Inc
 
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