Chinese settlement in NZ, past and present PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lachlan   
Sunday, 22 July 2007

Chinese settlement in New Zealand, past and present.

By James Ng
Amity Centre Publishing Project
October 2001


Chinese settlement in New Zealand, past and present

James Ng


The Chinese - the first non-Maori, non-European people to migrate in numbers to New Zealand - did so because of two Otago invitations to Cantonese goldseekers in 1865. Nevertheless, they retained a sojourner outlook for a long time and suffered discrimination on account of that, their competition to Europeans and their race. At the turn of the 20th century the racial issue became dominant and led to the White New Zealand policy of exclusion. Yet a significant remnant of Chinese hung on. Eventually, a number of their wives and children were permitted to come as refugees at the start of World War 2, and at its end, they were allowed to stay. More Chinese families were reunited here before communist China stopped emigration, and their settlement took hold and prospered. Then between 1986-96, a fundamental change in New Zealand’s immigration policy led to a big influx of middle-class Chinese from other origins, who much outnumbered the long-standing ‘Kiwi’ Chinese families. The newcomers’ social integration has yet to run its full course. Even so, New Zealand has gained a larger, permanent Chinese population with diverse origins, good education and resources, and more recent links to Asia.


Chinese have been in New Zealand for over 130 years. Originally, they were twice invited from Victoria, Australia to the province of Otago in 1865 to rework its goldfields,(1) and their first mining party arrived at the end of that year. From the beginning it was apparent that the Chinese would be a distinctive, significant and controversial ethnic minority.

Indeed, they have always been a distinctive minority which endeavoured to keep a place in this country. As the first non-Maori and non-European people to arrive their interactions with other New Zealand groups were bound to be significant. But why controversial? After all, the preceding Chinese migration to the Australian goldfields was regarded as a ‘safe’ influx, having a low crime rate and other good qualities such as industriousness(2) which should have been welcomed in a developing country like young New Zealand. The basic reason for dissension was their considerable difference in race and culture from the European, whereas New Zealand was suitable for European colonisation and was governed by Europeans. These differences fostered recurring controversy on the advisability of permitting Chinese immigration, out of which the belief grew that Chinese and other Asians should be kept out of New Zealand.

The Chinese bore the brunt of this belief because they were the earliest and most numerous Asian group to come. In the nineteenth century they reached a total of 4,364 persons or about 6% of Otago’s population towards the end of 1871, and a peak population in New Zealand of 5,000 or more between 1874-81,(3) the equivalent of 1% of New Zealand’s non-Maori population in the 1881 census. Historians have long recognised that the European reaction to the Chinese presence in New Zealand tested the limits of British colonial rule in relation to this country’s immigration legislation - and thus in its progression towards independence. Perhaps it is just beginning to be recognised that the Chinese involvement in New Zealand was an integral part of this nation’s pathway towards more Asianisation. As more details of this Chinese involvement emerge, it has become apparent that their full contribution to New Zealand was long underestimated because of sojournism on the part of the Chinese and discrimination on the part of the European.

On the whole, though, New Zealand discrimination did not take on the anti-Chinese extremes seen in North America and Australia, where racial prejudice against Chinese had set a precedent. In this and other aspects, the early Chinese in New Zealand were a microcosm of the Chinese goldseekers throughout the Pacific rim. Further, New Zealand’s story of its Chinese goldseekers - and their descendants - is the most complete because of the smallness of the country and its detailed documentation and photographic records of the Chinese population. In due course, New Zealand public attitudes positively changed, many Chinese families arrived and successful settlement ensued. They remained a small minority nonetheless, only 0.5% of the total population in 1986.

That said, a big new wave of Chinese and other Asian immigrants came recently. Thus in the 1996 census, the Chinese in New Zealand numbered 81,309 and were still the most numerous Asian group (40.8%). The Indian ethnic group was second, a few individuals arriving at the turn of the 20th century and numbering 181 in 1916. They were over 42,000 in 1996. The South Koreans, an entirely recent immigrant group, were third with over 13,000. They numbered 426 in the 1986 census and 903 in 1991. Of the total 1996 New Zealand population, the Chinese comprised 2.25% and all Asians, 5.5%.(4) The Chinese numbers alone would predispose them to figure prominently in the new feelings and barriers against Asian immigrants in the mid-1990s.

This article describes the Chinese progress in settlement in New Zealand. However, the story of the Chinese can have different emphases or angles; for example, their part in the increasing specialisation sought in immigrants in relation to the skills, investment and business acumen needed in this country. Thus the intakes of the past required mass to fill New Zealand’s open spaces, and a main question was merely ‘which peoples?’ Then in 1986, immigration was opened equally to all peoples, which would enlarge the incoming numbers of quality migrants. In 1986-96, overly broad immigration categories were introduced for skills and business categories and since the influxes of those years, the immigration lessons learnt are being assessed. Another line of thought might focus more on the successes and limitations of the three sojourner generations of New Zealand-Chinese, both in New Zealand and in their homeland. There are other aspects which may be further explored, including the European and Maori sides of the story. Nevertheless, the writer’s purpose in this article is to present an overview of Chinese settlement.

The history of the Chinese in New Zealand can be divided into four periods:

1. (1865-1900). The era of sojournism by choice.

Between 1865 and 1900 the majority of Chinese immigrants were goldseekers in Otago and on the West Coast of the South Island. Nearly all were males of Cantonese rural origin, from small farmer and country artisan stock in the counties of Panyu (especially), Taishan, Zengcheng and a few others.(5) Although at first the Chinese goldseekers came from Victoria, by 1869 they were coming direct from China as well and this inflow became the mainstream of Chinese arrivals. Virtually all were sojourners who wished to make a ‘pile’ and return to China. They were not interested in settlement here, but remained as aliens, and lacked the vote. The already worked-over goldfields reinforced their sojourner outlook, because few Chinese could support a family by mining. Instead, most sent remittances home and aimed to return to China on visits every five years or so with around £100 in savings,(6) to stay for about two years or longer if they could and then come back to New Zealand for another working spell.(7)

In Otago-Southland, they had come to the farthest southern goldfields in the world. Some of them spread to the West Coast goldfields. Leaving from China, they paid voyage expenses of around £12 (in 1870) (8) from family funds, loans or the credit-ticket system of Chinese employers in New Zealand, similar to the contract passages of European workers with other New Zealand employers. But indentured labour recruited by Europeans played no part in their migration to New Zealand. They often emigrated in kinship groups and extended camaraderie to those from the same county or group of counties in Guangdong province. They stuck together and stuck to their ways. They had to, because of language problems and the lack of personal assets. In doing so they formed the strongest cooperative groups in the goldfields(9) and this reinforced their separateness from the Europeans. It was their capability combined with group effort and aid which made them competitors to be reckoned with. Although most were small claim miners, in due course members of their ethnic group took on every branch of alluvial goldmining and pioneered the gold dredging of river flats. So far they are known to have been involved in only a few quartz mines, although the tradition that they did not undertake extensive tunnelling is now proven to be untrue.(10)

The Chinese goldseekers saved half or more of their earnings(11), and their savings were enhanced by a foreign exchange rate which rose from three taels (1870) to ten taels (1904) to one New Zealand pound.(12) Besides, the cost of living in China was cheaper. Thus an ounce of gold in savings was worth several times more to a Chinese sojourner than to a European miner. The Chinese could also enter other employment in the goldfields - from agricultural pursuits like farm labouring, rabbitting and market gardening to railroad and road building - and as the gold was worked out, they sought employment outside the goldfields.

Understandably, the Chinese aroused jealous antagonism among many European miners, and as the Chinese spread outside the goldfields, this antagonism spread to other European workers. At the start, the resentment emphasised their competition and sojournism as much as race. Then the issue of race was emphasised by Sir George Grey (1879),(13) and politicians from the West Coast joined in, as did the rising trade union movement. A West Coast politician early involved was the formidable R.J. Seddon, who continued his bias when premier (1893-1906) and is remembered as the chief anti-Chinese opponent in New Zealand history. For many years the principal political objective regarding Chinese was to limit their immigration, and two main parliamentary acts were passed; the Chinese Immigrants Act, 1881, and the Chinese Immigrants Act Amendment Act, 1896. Both imposed a polltax on the entry of new Chinese immigrants, the latter act raising the polltax from £10 to £100, or thousands of dollars in today’s money.(14) As for the Chinese already here, initially there was little legalised discrimination against them. Examples slowly appeared, including the more difficult process of naturalisation for Chinese and the Old Age Pensions Act, 1898, which excluded Chinese and other ‘Asiatics’, thereby relegating to penury the ageing Chinese miners remaining in the exhausted goldfields.

From 1881 the Chinese population fell, thus lessening their competition. Paradoxically, the antagonism against them gradually grew worse, due in large part to economic depression (the Long Depression, 1879-96) and the influence of anti-Chinese agitation in North America and Australia. A perverse consequence of this was that antagonism now increasingly focused on race, the European viewpoint being backed by pseudo-scientific theories expounding the existence of so-called superior and inferior peoples. Since the Chinese were allegedly inferior, the denigration of them found its justification, and it was then only a step away to wish to ban such persons from immigration. Fear of competition tends to limit the ingress of certain immigrants, but racism tends to ban them. Correspondingly, the main anti-Chinese political objective changed from limitation to exclusion, although Britain prevented any possible realisation of the latter until the Imperial War Conference in 1917. By the 1900s, nonetheless, the racist propaganda was coupled to the weak position of China, and had convinced all classes of the European population of the desirability of a White New Zealand.(15) This intense feeling was written into laws and regulations and was spoken of as the White New Zealand policy, although it was never formally documented as a statute or decree.(16)

Some New Zealand-Chinese reactions to the prejudice against them were recorded, revealing them as intense patriots who believed in their own superiority as a people, culture and nation.(17) They clung to their conviction that China was a major power, which had been an illusion since 1800 - and shattered, if they had acknowledged it, in the two Opium Wars. Imagine their disappointment as China’s weaknesses became more and more manifest through the Sino-French War (1884-85), the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the Boxer Rebellion (1900-01). They, and the later Chinese in New Zealand, bitterly resented China’s fall in international status, and blamed that low status for their poor treatment overseas. They were aware of the better treatment of Japanese migrants elsewhere, which happened, they believed, because Japan enjoyed a higher international status.(18)

Most of the Chinese goldseekers managed at the last to return permanently to China.(19) The book Windows on a Chinese Past records their important role in the goldfields, thereby justifying their invitations to come. For many years in Otago they comprised about 40% of the goldminers and possibly produced 30% of the gold. One of their leaders, Choie Sew Hoy, pioneered a gold dredge in 1888 which led the world in dredging river beaches and flats, and revitalised Otago’s mining industry and the region generally. Within 14 years, in 1902, Otago and adjacent Southland had a fleet of 201 gold dredges either built or abuilding, nearly all modelled on the Sew Hoy dredge (better known as the ‘New Zealand gold dredge’). Besides, as already mentioned, the Chinese also provided labour for local agriculture, railway and road projects and other work, and dominated the fresh vegetable market.

A core of Chinese hung on in New Zealand, still not to settle but to sojourn. It is likely that most of these men had established small businesses - many market gardens, some fruitshops cum stores, the first Chinese laundries - outside the goldfields, or were to do so. Some were ex-goldseekers. Others were sons and young kin of goldseekers, coming to New Zealand from the 1880s by a nascent chain migration. They largely formed the second Chinese generation in New Zealand, their numbers added to by Cantonese contemporaries who had migrated independently, while the polltax was still an affordable £10. One of the latter was the grandfather of the writer; he had previously been in Darwin, and in Wellington in early or mid 1896 he joined a small group of Ng relatives and clansmen who were said to have been unable to go or return to the United States or Australia. The second generation lived like the goldseekers within kinship and locale groupings. They were the pivotal Chinese generation in New Zealand. Again like their goldseeker predecessors in being faithful to their families and inured to hardship,they stuck out the worse (rising) years of the White New Zealand policy whilst establishing the new Chinese businesses in a humble way by humble means. Their numbers were not big, at least partly because their continued influx was deterred by the £100 polltax. In 1901, the total New Zealand-Chinese population was only 2857.

Since sojournism dominated, there were at the end of the first era only 15 Chinese wives and 43 Chinese-European marriages in New Zealand.(20) Still, their families gave another hint of the rich social potential of the Chinese. The mixed marriages included that of Choie Sew Hoy (actually a hidden de facto relationship) and also Chew (Chau) Chong, the New Plymouth fungus buyer (of Auricularia polytricha) and butter factory pioneer (in the use of refrigeration). In addition, it is not generally known that the Maori people appointed Chew Chong an ‘ahupiri’ or regional chief - one of the two Chinese and five Europeans ever awarded this high honour. Chew Chong’s youngest son won the Military Medal in World War 1. The first known Chinese full-blood family in New Zealand were the Lo Keongs (1873), who produced the first Chinese music teacher, the first Chinese dentist, and the first two Chinese engineers who were among the first Chinese soldiers in this country. The second known Chinese full-blood family, the Wong Tapes (1875), included Benjamin Wong Tape, OBE, JP, who left New Zealand to achieve an illustrious career in Hong Kong. He was a founder of Hong Kong University. Among other early full-blood Chinese families were the Ah Chees of Auckland, who became prominent businessmen; the Young Hees at Greymouth, where the father masterminded the Opium Act, 1901 but departed to Hong Kong where his family have included a Legislative Councillor; and T.F. Loie’s family, whose New Zealand-born son David was posthumously awarded the rare King’s Police Medal for valour in Hong Kong during World War 2.

2. (1901-50). The era of sojournism by compulsion.

The second era found the Chinese in New Zealand remaining as sojourners in the land and still predominantly male, but now increasingly seeking the settlement of their families here. Their numbers fell to 2,147 in 1916, but besides the remnant of goldminers who were stranded in this country, this total included those who were by then mostly established in the previously mentioned market gardens, fruitshops and laundries. Eventually the Chinese expanded and predominated in these three occupations, and were to be found in or around urban areas all over New Zealand.(21)

Some of these small businesses could support families, and the wish followed the capability. Worsening worries of civil disorder and war in China furthered the wish from the turn of the 20th century. But this was for long a frustrating era for the Chinese in New Zealand, since the country’s laws aimed to ensure they stayed as sojourners and not become settlers. Legislators thought that if they could stop the ingress of Chinese newcomers (especially females), then those Chinese already here would ultimately leave for good or die out. From the turn of the century, therefore, New Zealand progressively erected an immigration system which finally (in 1921) could prevent new Chinese entry absolutely. At first, a few more Chinese men and wives came, particularly from 1903, overcoming the huge £100 polltax. This arrival of female Chinese (22) led in 1907 to the imposition of a reading test of a hundred words of Standard 4 level, over and above the polltax. Naturalisation for Chinese was stopped from 1908, by which time it was said that a White New Zealand policy was universally accepted. The addition of the reading test reduced new Chinese immigration to two or three individuals a year for several years.

Then quite astonishingly, 1,374 males and 115 females arrived from China as a new immigrant wave in 1918-20, when shipping lanes from Asia were restored to normal at the end of the war and before the implementation of the new permit system in 1921. These arrivals overcame both the polltax and the reading test, following which they were automatically granted permanent residence status. They were helped in paying the polltax by a change in foreign exchange which reflected the higher price for silver from 1916 and saw Chinese currency rise to 2.6 dollars to one New Zealand pound in early 1920, before again slipping in value.(23) They were mostly young men of the writer’s parents’ generation, brought to New Zealand by their fathers and kin in the small Chinese population here. The tremendous effort needed to bring them into this country - in savings and cramming for the English test - meant that few other Chinese could come without the crucial component of aid from within New Zealand. In turn, this chain migration meant that the New Zealand-Chinese newcomers continued to originate from a few Cantonese localities. Of more immediate consequence, their coming decisively circumvented New Zealand’s aim to shut out new Chinese entrants, thus ensuring a Chinese minority in New Zealand for many years ahead. The permit system, however, proved to be an insuperable barrier to continuing Chinese immigration. With its implementation in 1921 further Chinese immigration practically ceased, apart from a small quota system between 1921-26. But the full-blood Chinese already in New Zealand numbered 2,770 males and 316 females (including 135 wives) in 1926 and 2,233 males and 347 females in 1936.

Though this renewed immigration wave was still primarily one of sojourners, reflecting the long-established tradition operative in the migrants’ Cantonese home counties, it produced in effect the next Chinese generation in this country. Anti-Chinese attitudes in New Zealand did not deter them since sojourners tolerate less than ideal conditions away from home as long as they could gainfully earn, save and leave. And they could do so in New Zealand, because once arrived and admitted, the forces of law and order were extended to them. They aimed for a savings rate of one third, a visit to China about every five years and a take-home sum that was still around £100, until Chinese earnings improved after the Great Depression.(24) They continued to live circumscribed lives here within their traditional social groupings and were still separate from mainstream society. Now, though, the separatism was more European-induced than ever before, since notions of white supremacy, racial purity and the avoidence of racial ‘contamination’ or ‘pollution’ in marriage by ‘inferiors’ pervaded much of white society.

For all that, a basic level of decency was maintained towards the Chinese, and their businesses were still patronised. The decency was underlined by several churches, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and particularly the Presbyterian Church, which had a small Chinese mission in New Zealand and a big Canton Villages Mission among New Zealand-Chinese home villages in upper Panyu county, Guangdong province. This was the only Australasian church mission in China. The Chinese also acknowledged the high professional standard of the judiciary.(25) But it was exceptional for Europeans in New Zealand to hire Chinese, or for Chinese to have European employees, particularly in urban business activities. As European females were sometimes even arrested for consorting with them,(26) intermarriages remained few. Chinese market gardens which hired Maori labour sparked off a furore which went on for years about Chinese (and Indian) men and Maori women relationships, and indeed, 38 Chinese-Maori offspring were recorded in the 1936 census. The Great Depression (1930-34, although hard times actually extended from 1926-36 in New Zealand) affected Chinese businesses as well as European but new Chinese businesses were resented and opposed.(27)

Overall, the new wave of Chinese men was better educated in China (often to secondary school standard) than their predecessors, and could probably have adapted more to New Zealand life. Nevertheless, when faced with anti-Chinese prejudice, they too looked back to China as their primary home. One of their sayings was that ‘the leaves fall (return) to the roots.’ In their ancestral villages, two or three generations of overseas money earned by one or more male members per generation had enriched their families, many of whom became landlords. With this stake in China, and because their Cantonese schooling had emphasised the rebirth of China, they too were intensely patriotic towards that country. They firmly believed in the inner strength of China and the Chinese people. An added reason for their patriotism was another belief, continued from their predecessors, that only the heightened international reputation of a strengthened China could improve their lot in New Zealand. Specifically, they believed that only a resurgent China could disprove the prejudice of racial inferiority pressed against the Chinese here. The scattered Chinese communities in this country could not do it on their own, and they therefore established in New Zealand the Kuomintang party (1913) and the New Zealand Chinese Association (1937) as their two chief societies.(28) Both were strongly linked to each other and to the Chinese consulate, the staff of which was appointed by the Kuomintang government in China from 1929.

In 1937, the New Zealand Chinese Association began systematically raising funds for the Chinese war effort against Japan, and at the end of the war, was said to have raised either the highest or second-highest amount per capita in any overseas Chinese community.(29) Every Chinese earner in New Zealand contributed on a weekly basis (30) and many gave more than expected. The New Zealand government permitted the money to be sent to China. The two foremost Chinese leaders were Chiu Kwok-chun and his half-caste New Zealand-born friend Henry Yue Jackson, who worked in the Chinese consulate, and they were ably and fully supported by Consul (later Consul General) Wang Feng (1935-53). In every branch of the Chinese Association, men rose to the occasion; and many years later, the writer saw their faces light up whenever he mentioned the Association’s work in the war years.

However, due to the intense prejudice against them, the importance of the Chinese to New Zealand itself during this era was less than before. In the period up to 1945, only five Chinese had graduated from university, a number too sparse to make an impact. No commercial pioneers had followed Choie Sew Hoy and Chew Chong. In fact, the Chinese businesses, being chiefly constrained to market gardens, fruitshops and laundries, crowded in and competed with each other. For all that, one should not dismiss these three Chinese occupations lightly, since the Chinese skilfully provided a major social service in each. Labour unions finally left the Chinese alone in these three trades, probably in part because of a tacit acknowledgement of their usefulness to the general society.

The young men who had arrived postwar gradually succeeded their fathers in the Chinese businesses, many of the latter returning permanently to China in the early 1920s. Thereupon, some of the young men began developing the same wish to get their families to New Zealand. If they could do so, they believed that they were not turning their backs on China, but would get their families at least for a time out of danger; furthermore they would not need to go back to China at intervals, thereby interrupting their businesses here; they would still retire to China; and in the meantime they could send their children back for a Chinese education - as many of the small number of Chinese families already in New Zealand were doing. But of course under the immigration laws, they could not bring their families here. They were an unwanted minority under an immigration system which was enforcing sojournism by compulsion.

Then at last, positive change occurred in New Zealand’s attitude to Chinese, principally because of the international scene. In the late 1930s, Japan became regarded as a common enemy to both China and New Zealand, and the plight of the Cantonese people at war was frequently portrayed by the Canton Villages Mission of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. In 1936 New Zealand’s officialdom could still write: ‘The presence in a population of considerable groups of individuals of alien races who cannot be readily assimilated into that population… is not attended with advantage.’(31) This notwithstanding, inter-racial relationships between Chinese and Europeans had improved to the extent that in 1937, Chin Bing Foon of Dunedin was actually invited by a senior immigration officer to apply for the entry of his family.(32) Soon after, New Zealand made a landmark decision which, from 1939 until the departure port of Hong Kong was captured in 1941, permitted temporary entry to 249 Chinese wives and 244 young children of Chinese residents as war refugees.(33) My mother, brother and I came with them. This first big group of Chinese women and children were allowed to stay after World War 2 and the children became an indispensable factor in the ensuing settlement of Chinese here.

When New Zealand entered World War 2, many of the Chinese were nearing or in their 40s and not fluent enough in English to participate in the armed forces. The realistic task the New Zealand government set for them was to produce more vegetables for the rapid expansion of its troop numbers. The government designated market gardening as an essential industry and encouraged the formation of the Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers in 1941 to increase vegetable production. Besides this, the Chinese in New Zealand earned a good reputation in World War 2 in a number of other ways.(34) As to soldiering, in both World Wars the number of full-blood New Zealand-Chinese of the right age to enlist for military service was small; in the 1916 census there were only 32 males and 8 females between 20 and 25 years and in the 1936 census, there were only 119 males and 38 females aged between 16 and 25 years. Still, at least 39 joined up in World War 2, of whom eight served overseas.(35) In China, an ex-migrant to Oamaru, Otago, named Lowe Lai-san, became a Kuomintang major general of distinction.

3. (1951-85). The era of settlement.

Generally, from 1951, an improving attitude towards the Chinese here led to the apparent disappearance of assumed racial superiorities of the past on both sides. This was therefore a happier era conducive to settlement in which the children, both Chinese and European, played the key role. The expectation of the general society was that the Chinese minority should settle, acculturate and eventually assimilate into the dominant New Zealand culture. Carried to a conclusion, this meant that the Chinese would be socially absorbed (assimilated); in practice this would have involved the learning and adoption of the dominant culture coupled with the giving up of their own, and intermarriage. Generally the youngest Chinese children were the ones most willing and able to do this, and their young European friends were most accepting of them.

As mentioned, the refugee wives and children were allowed to stay after the war as permanent residents (1947) and New Zealand further loosened its anti-Chinese regulations on immigration to allow the reunification of more families here. Three very important events happened in 1951. The census that year recorded a ratio of 40 married Chinese women to every 100 married Chinese men in New Zealand, but in that year also the new communist government in China slammed its gates on emigration, and generally kept them shut till 1976. This was the first very important event, a tragic development which meant that many Chinese men failed to get their families out of China and were destined to die as ‘bachelor husbands’ in New Zealand or Hong Kong - because very few dared to go back into China till the 1980s. However, as it turned out, New Zealand had already gained a sufficient number of reunified Chinese families with young children to create a forward movement of settlement within their ethnic minority. And, dare one say it, it was probably an advantage for these families to settle without having to assist continual inflows of new immigrant kinsfolk who would probably have slowed down that process.

For the reunified families especially, the second very important event in 1951 was that the New Zealand government granted naturalisation to Chinese again, a privilege, it will be remembered, which had been stopped in 1908. The writer recalls the excitement with which his father and uncles greeted the announcement, to them another major symbol of the fairer treatment of our ethnic minority. They noted that the liberalisation of the immigration laws for Chinese to that year had been nearly all carried out by Labour ministries and the reinstatement of naturalisation was actioned by a National Government, signifying that both Labour and National were as one in treating the Chinese more justly.

The event was all the more significant because the older New Zealand-Chinese saw that they and their families could not go back to China after the communists there began persecuting the landlord class - to which many of them belonged - as part of a land reform campaign begun in 1951. That was the third very important event. The torments inflicted on landlords caused a deep revulsion among our parents towards communist China. At the same time, very few retained faith in the Kuomintang remnant in Formosa after its failures, nor believed its vow to reconquer and reinvigorate China. For these reasons, the reinstatement of naturalisation represented in many Chinese eyes the promising start of a new era which logically pointed to settlement in New Zealand - and required that reinstatement as a necessary prerequisite.

Deep down, many others (perhaps most) of the writer’s parents’ generation still had doubts whether the Chinese could really put down roots in New Zealand. They had long memories of prejudice, and these doubts even led some of them to buy property in Hong Kong - in case New Zealand again turned its back on the Chinese. In the 1950s and even in the 1960s, New Zealand still had little real knowledge of the Chinese and some other minorities, whilst its old ethnic intolerances retained much force.(36) The older Chinese knew this and their reservations were not helped by communist China’s participation in the Korean War (1950-53) followed by persistent, strong New Zealand anti-communism particularly espoused by the Returned Services Association.(37) Both these events generated suspicion in greater or lesser degree towards all Chinese. The New Zealand-Chinese could not help but feel the suspicion, despite the reassurances of our European friends.(38) Fortunately the Kuomintang Chinese consulate was still recognised until 1972, and the New Zealand-Chinese could take some shelter under its umbrella. They could point to it and say that not all Chinese were communists and neither were they. The quid pro quo was that the Chinese in New Zealand withheld public criticism of the Kuomintang party, observed Double Ten (October 10) Day and flew the Kuomintang national flag on that occasion. By the time the Kuomintang consulate was replaced by the Chinese communist embassy, the feelings towards the Chinese in New Zealand were visibly getting better. More Chinese were mixing to a greater extent in the general society, and the embassy helped by keeping a fairly non-controversial profile and maintaining a moderate, one-nationality stance towards the local Chinese.

One can summarise the effect of China on the New Zealand-Chinese as follows: In the early years of this era when most of us were still perceived as outsiders, China’s international reputation considerably affected the Chinese here for good or bad - as our forebears had experienced. As settlement progressed, the collective image of the Chinese in this country became more and more accepted in the public mind as New Zealanders. In parallel, China’s influence upon that image has much receded - though negative media reports can still be found which have some impact upon us. Looking back, the writer feels he has only experienced two periods when China’s international reputation had been really well regarded in New Zealand - during World War 2 and just after, and in the years 1972-89 (before the Tiananmen Square incident) when America was well-disposed towards China.

The parents’ doubts on these things did not apply to their young children. The refugee and postwar Chinese children were allowed free education as were the New Zealand-born Chinese youngsters of the time, and in the schools they influenced and were influenced favourably. Through their childhood friendships with their European peers and respect for their teachers during their most impressionable and optimistic years, they were convinced that New Zealanders were basically fair and tolerant, and that being so, they could settle in New Zealand. They knew of the European expectation of their assimilation and the inevitable loss of Chineseness (as their parents warned), but they were not afraid of that. Indeed, many were eager for change and were especially attracted - in those early years of their lives - by the penchant for individuality and transformation inherent in New Zealand’s European culture. They saw the road of assimilation open to them, with its challenge and the more promising future it offered in comparison with rural based Cantonese or communist or Kuomintang alternative ways of life. Many travelled that road, intent upon achieving assimilation.

Yet in the end most retained some Chineseness. The majority of the young Chinese could not wholly assimilate since they could not give up their strong ties and obligations to their parents (which in turn led to the retention of other customs), marry into the European community (because like tends to marry like), abandon all their preferences like that for Chinese food, and entirely overcome deep-rooted cultural traits like indirectness. Also acting against assimilation was the usually unspoken but real barrier of skin colour, although the writer personally felt a greater barrier by being Chinese. The incompleteness of their assimilation was in due course justified by the concept of multiculturism, which had its beginnings in New Zealand in the 1960s (introduced, perhaps, by the Hunn [1960] and Booth-Hunn [1962] Reports)(39) and has been gradually accepted. Multiculturism supports the social integration of a people rather than assimilation because integration is a two-way process of cultural transfer, respect and understanding; multiculturism therefore leaves an ethnic minority with various features of its indigenous culture. In contrast, assimilation is a one-way process of social absorption which is now somewhat out of favour with sociologists and replaced in desirability by integration.

However, the New Zealand-Chinese experience is that the youngest children particularly seek acceptance, acculturation and assimilation into the dominant culture; as adults with a greater or lesser degree of remaining Chineseness they are comfortable, tolerated and integrated within the environment of multiculturism; but since a dominant culture prevails, their offspring continue the advance of assimilation within their families. This progression of assimilation is in keeping with the American experience of Asian and other migrants.(40)

The young New Zealand-Chinese realised too, that their better futures required education and whether with parental consent or not, they sought university education. In one remarkable bound, 92 of them, including about one third of the refugee children, graduated from university between 1945 and 1961.(41) With that, they gave further proof of the capacity of the Chinese to do well in New Zealand. They widened the Chinese base of occupations, improved their social status, and provided models for the young Chinese in New Zealand to follow.

As a result, a high proportion of the young New Zealand-Chinese of rural Cantonese descent go to university today at two to three times the rate for the total population.(42) The chief direction of these young Chinese seems to be towards the professions rather than commerce. Second generation Chinese professional families have emerged, and are New Zealand-born. They are climbing higher in their professions, progressing, say, from the general practitioner father to the specialist son. Of course, settlement is not a uniform process within a community; it is a range of progress, with a vanguard of families and a tail. The ‘tail’ referred to here is formed by the Cantonese propensity for chain migration, whereby those still with strong family ties in China on either spouses’s side bring their relatives if possible to New Zealand. These arrivals become included among the least assimilated Cantonese Chinese. They principally work in labouring tasks in small Chinese supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways and the like which have since succeeded market gardens, fruitshops and laundries; but their children often follow the example of the ‘vanguard’ and become graduates.

In the main, the long-established Chinese families in New Zealand can be said to have substantially undergone assimilation and many have tertiary education. They are entering most aspects of New Zealand life as confident New Zealanders of Chinese ancestry. The concept of multiculturism now pervading New Zealand enables them to explore their remaining Chineseness, but they do that from a New Zealand base. An observer calls them a ‘"model minority", unobtrusive, law-abiding, and undemanding - a largely middle-class, well-educated, and low profile group untroubled by any concerns of ethnicity.’(43) In 1984, Bateman’s New Zealand Encyclopedia reported that ‘The Chinese minority in New Zealand today is highly respected and is regarded as one of the most successfully integrated groups in the country.’

New Zealand has become their home and country. They have changed from being New Zealand-Chinese to Chinese-New Zealanders, a new ethnic entity. This full acceptance is the greatest achievement of the writer’s generation and his childrens’, earned by mixing with and facing and sharing the obligations of the wider society. The writer has witnessed in Dunedin, Otago, how local Chinese young folk have made life-long friendships with European-New Zealanders, and then - especially as doctors, lawyers, accountants and other graduates - have progressively uplifted the image of their community. The racial climate in New Zealand generally has advanced for the good since the 1950s. In truth, the readiness of their European and Maori friends to accept the Chinese and apologise for past prejudices makes them proud to be part of such an equitable nation as New Zealand is today. For their part, a greater knowledge of their history in New Zealand has given them a better understanding of why things developed as they did.

For example, if they had been early New Zealand-Europeans instead of Chinese, how would they have regarded the latter’s worth to the young years of the nation - as aliens, sojourners and competitors with very little social bonding to the dominant British? It was not then realised that such a different race as the Chinese could successfully settle and contribute like any other race in New Zealand. Nor was it generally known that because their way of life was so different, their social adaptation best began with their young children, particularly those nine years and under who could go through most of New Zealand’s school system. It was, and still is, in the schools that different peoples best mix together and get used to each other; but even now, there is ignorance of the longish time it takes for the acceptance of different communities to mature on both sides - in the writer’s experience, as much as a generation (30 years) in time, plus additional time for individuals each to add to that acceptance by making their mark and gaining seniority in society.

It cannot be denied, though, that the New Zealand-Chinese settlement proceeded with a lot of luck. It was lucky that China and Formosa were spurned so the young Chinese of the writer’s generation felt no obligation to go and help in those unhappy lands. Thus they could concentrate on settlement here and there was no influx of new Chinese immigrants to distract them, certainly no big influx like that of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Being a small minority which was scattered all over New Zealand, they did not evoke resentful visions of competition to the dominant society, especially because New Zealand had very prosperous times in the 1950s and 1960s with plenty of work. So there was no need to fight for jobs, and being increasingly New Zealand-born, the young Chinese had no problems either with legalised discrimination - which seemed to them to be steadily eliminated from the laws and regulations in any case.

In summary, the third era was a continuum of the Cantonese goldseekers of last century, the links going back to them forged by chain migration from China. These Cantonese descendants comprise what may be regarded as the traditional or long-standing or ‘Kiwi’ Chinese community in New Zealand, which by immigration, natural increase and much freer intermarriage, numbered in 1986 about 13,000 full-blood and 4,000 Chinese-European and Chinese-Maori mixed-blood persons; or 0.5% of the total population.(44) Their full-blood members were a close-knit ethnic group in that they knew much about each other, and their families were often linked by kinship or marriage ties. But other Chinese were already coming to New Zealand and, in 1986, there were over 9,000 other full and mixed-blood Chinese here, particularly consisting of Indo-Chinese refugees and Pacific Island Polynesian-Chinese who had chiefly arrived in the 1970s.

4. (1986- ). The era of newcomers.

From 1986, considerable new immigration of Chinese from yet other origins pushed up the total number of Chinese in only ten years to over 81,000, and ushered in a new fourth era. In this short time a surge of Asian immigration has altered forever the composition of New Zealand’s population. In the long term, this surge will probably push the country more towards Asianisation. As to the immigrants themselves, the biggest ethnic group has comprised Chinese unrelated to the ‘Kiwi’ Chinese. Their integration with the wider society is proceeding as well as can be expected, but it is already clear that New Zealand has gained a larger, permanent, quality Chinese minority with more recent links to Asia.

By 1986 it was increasingly evident that New Zealand was turning to Asia for much of its livelihood. When the White New Zealand policy was being formulated, New Zealand had very little trade with China and little with the rest of Asia. But New Zealand now has to accept a fundamental truth, that free commerce between nations grows only in an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect and equality. A proof of equality lies in immigration policy, and as former Deputy Prime Minister Don McKinnon once expressed it; ‘We will find these markets much harder to penetrate, and some may close if we are seen to be vigorously marketing into them, but at the same time at home are seen to be saying "We don’t want your investment or your people here".’(45)

The fact that New Zealand was becoming more aware of its proximity to Asia was only one significant reason for changes in its immigration policy. In the 1970s there was much discussion about immigrants and immigration, notably criticism of British and Pacific peoples in the early years of this decade and the relatively smooth entry of 7546 Indo-Chinese refugees (about 80% of whom were ethnic Chinese)(46) between 1975-87. Consequently, there was dawning support for drawing on wider sources of origin for immigrants, and the very beginnings of that support effected small changes in racial entry rules from 1965-74. A number of Chinese from various homelands were permitted residence in this period. Among them were Peter Chen (physical education lecturer) and his four talented daughters who include Mae Chen (lawyer); Ming Cher (writer); Tak Hung (Zenith Technology Ltd); Norman Lau (administrator in forestry); Judge Margaret Lee; Professors S.H. Ng and Jilnaught Wong; A.C. Tan (telecommunications engineer) whose three offspring David, Audrey and Michael have all been notable academically; and Steven Wong (Fresher Foods Ltd). Jack Yan, who has a Fashion on Internet business, probably came in this period but Professor K.M. Goh and the late Professor Frank Liu came a little earlier.

The Labour Party had prominent Yugoslav supporters who reinforced the party’s thinking on broadening the immigration sources.(47) The Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Immigration in the new, reforming Labour Government of 1984-90, personified the new thoughts on trade expansion and wider immigration origins. He said to the writer that he was determined to aim for ‘a more simple and just immigration system’ which would choose solely on the quality of the applicant rather than give preference to places of origin. He said he was not influenced by the economic state of New Zealand, nor by the net outflow of migrants then occurring, nor by the contemporary Hong Kong exodus - but he was impressed by the good character of the Yugoslav and Kiwi Chinese peoples. Burke knew that the communist regimes in Yugoslavia and China were still - or had been - largely denying emigration, but he thought the Fijian Indians would respond to a relaxation of New Zealand’s immigration rules - as indeed happened when the military coup occurred in Fiji in 1987.

Burke drew up the new immigration policy passed by his government in 1986.(48) He was aware his policy would change the New Zealand population ‘more than any time since Captain Cook’, a change he personally welcomed. He was assisted by a government subcommittee of four and the Assistant Secretary of Labour (Immigration) - initially Ron Gates and then particularly Gordon Shroff, with their own advisors.(49) The first fruits of this new policy were several hundred Fijian Indian students. Burke left New Zealand from 1991-98, but commented to the writer that some of the measures of the mid-1990s were ‘disguised racism’. In relation to the English language test of that time, he said that the United States, ‘the most successful immigrant nation in the world, merely requires literacy in the applicant’s own language.’

From 1986 the long-established Occupational Categories were permitted to recruit immigrants from among all races. More boldly, the existing Entrepeneur and Business Immigration Policy (which was a stagnant programme) was changed from the approval of proposals to the approval of people of all races who wished to become self-employed business people or investors in New Zealand, and had starting capital plus some NZ$150,000 for personal establishment costs. The new scheme became known as the Business Immigration Policy or BIP, and had the explicit intention of attracting self-employed business migrants with money who, it was thought, would positively stimulate their chosen fields of endeavour whatever these might be in New Zealand. This was a challenging assumption, but it has American proof that given legal protection as for all citizens, ethnic groups who take traditions of self-employment overseas and have capital ‘are much more likely to start in and succeed at business upon arrival.’(50) However, the truly fundamental change in the revised policy and regulations was the full opening up of entry to races from non-traditional sources. In this, New Zealand had at last followed similar measures in the United States (1965), Canada (1967) and Australia (1973). Thus the second of the twin pillars of the White New Zealand policy (racial preference in entry and naturalisation) was apparently dismantled. Simultaneously, the new policy of 1986 also reviewed the family reunification, refugee and humanitarian categories of immigration but left these more or less unchanged.

Table 1.

Permanent and Long-term Migration (for a year or more), June 1984-85 to 1999-2000 (including New Zealanders).

Year Arrivals Departures


















































Source: Immigration Fact Pack, July 2000.

A net outflow was interrupted by increased (notably Asian) immigration until the latter in turn was interrupted by new immigration rules.

The BIP, the broad terms of which could permit large inflows, generally took a little time to catch on (Table 1). But to European eyes, New Zealand as a migrant destination was ranked 17th out of 22 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.(51) To Asian eyes, however, New Zealand was more attractive, being in a sense on the periphery of Asia and a safe, green haven which offered good access to sound educational facilities for children.(52) Moreover, the BIP was less stringent than the entry requirements for North America and Australia.(53) The then existing exodus from Hong Kong meant that some Hong Kong Chinese migrants could regard New Zealand as another haven.(54) By 1988, over 30 immigration consultancies in Hong Kong were touting New Zealand.(55) The Hong Kong Chinese interest in migrating to New Zealand spread to Taiwanese and Malaysians. Other Asians were also attracted at this stage, but in smaller numbers (Table 2).

Table 2

No. of Asians approved in all categories for residence in New Zealand: top 13 Asian origins by nationality compared with Gt. Britain and South Africa, 1986-95.

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 Total

Cambodia 281 10 482 749 90 266 96 41 85 178 2278

China 156 233 654 567 1042 1765 2451 1778 4291 5178 18115

Hong Kong 162 352 993 1975 3249 6706 3131 2926 2762 3125 25381

India 190 323 673 486 707 604 870 1339 2156 3323 10671

Japan 53 55 264 154 200 272 306 294 296 348 2242

Malaysia 375 713 1826 1675 2124 1502 2089 1209 817 646 12976

Phillipines 440 616 620 633 894 938 585 504 636 1167 7033

Singapore 143 160 257 165 175 167 183 172 235 258 1915

South Korea 16 29 47 94 194 696 1915 2687 4166 3463 13309

Sri Lanka 84 185 277 210 278 311 353 638 1011 1347 4694

Taiwan 17 43 993 2588 2118 1111 2307 2509 4995 12397 29078

Thailand 22 27 48 66 159 175 177 125 176 207 1182

Vietnam 136 145 174 158 337 374 99 255 464 203 2345

Gt Britain 4373 4539 5056 3314 3868 3789 3216 4597 5968 6422 45142

South Africa 266 342 418 240 314 265 377 2773 3943 1883 10821

Source: Figures by courtesy of Hon. R.F.H. Maxwell, Minister of Immigration, 30 May 1996.

Accordingly, the aggregate number of Chinese applicants from all places of origin became an increasing percentage of the total annual inflow of migrants into New Zealand, although British immigrants, the previously top preferred group, continued to be among the most numerous newcomers. There was also an increasing exodus to New Zealand by South Africans, many of British descent. Among Asian immigrants, the Chinese were the largest percentage. This trend continued despite the tightening of the BIP scheme in 1991, because a new, fairly achievable points system was introduced in the same year as the ‘General Category’ of immigration.(56) Subsequently in the June 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 years, the total number of people approved for residency reached 33,237, 49,619 and a record 55,142 respectively. In these totals, the North, South and South East Asians combined reached 51%, 57% and 61% respectively, and those from North Asia - China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - reached 11,933 (36%), 20,807 (42%) and 24,008 (43%) respectively.(57) These were the peak numbers before a general downturn followed.

In 1991, a review panel of three Europeans under the newly elected National Government (1990-99) had introduced more controls and needs into the BIP, and renamed it the Business Investment Category or BIC. They designed the new General Category or GC to increase the ingress of skills and to balance the prospective inflow of the businessmen and investors of the BIC. The GC replaced the Occupational Categories, and was to give encouragement to managerial and professional applicants who had previously been largely excluded, besides keeping openings for trade skills. In the General Category, a job to come to was an advantage but not essential. Also, a good knowledge of English was thought desirable but the reviewers did not give this factor much weight. The proficiency in English required was the comprehension level of a 12 year-old in the principal applicant only for the GC and in one person in the family over 17 years of age in the BIC.

The maximum points which could be awarded in the GC were as follows: qualifications, 15; work experience, 10; a younger age, 10; an offer of skilled employment, 3; a community sponsor, 3; a family sponsor, 2; and settlement funds of $100,000, 2. The autopass mark of the scheme rose from 20 in 1991 to 31 by July 1995. A further three points could be awarded with investment capital (1 point per $100,000 up to $300,000, to be invested in New Zealand for at least two years). Those applicants going for these 3 points were placed in the General Investment sub-category, which kept separate figures and netted from North Asian applicants $164,900,000 (June 1993-94), $209,800,000 (1994-95) and $304,500,000 (1995-96). These sums were additional to the Business Categories which from North Asia in June 1994-95 (under the BIC) took in $326 million, and in 1995-96 (nearly all under the BIC) $395 million.(58)

It was thought that by applying flexibility to the number of points allotted or required, it would be easier to control the number and mix of migrants who qualified under the GC, according to official targets. Initially the target was set at 25,000 approvals for residence per year in relation to all the immigration categories, with the General Category to act as a residual category to make up the target. Since the General Category favoured younger migrants with education over money, it especially gave a good chance for young mainland Chinese graduates to come. Their savings in yuan meant little because its exchange rate much favoured the New Zealand dollar. But when foreign qualifications were considered, the General Category discounted the effect on the immigrant of any prospective restrictions of New Zealand’s trade associations and professional bodies in the acceptance of these qualifications. The few community sponsors appointed for applicants became increasingly sought after as the autopass points increased, and they emulated the immigration consultants in charging fees.

The General Category having replaced the old BIP as the chief Chinese portal of entry, educated younger persons now had an advantage over money and mature business acumen. In 1995 New Zealand boasted of ‘achieving (in the previous four years) the highest percentage of skilled immigrants of any country in the world.’(59) But the Chinese already seemed to know that North America and Australia offered greater work and business opportunities than New Zealand, which explains why this country did not attract their very rich migrants. In fact, the sums brought here under the BIP were said to average up to $500,000 or $600,000,(60) and the General Category’s average migrant was likely to have brought in less. Still, many Chinese immigrants, particularly in the BIP wave, were thought to have each brought in several million New Zealand dollars and are rich by New Zealand standards.(61) More seriously, the news soon spread back to the previous homelands that New Zealand had limited employment, mature internal markets, distant external markets, producer board monopolies which hinder small entrepreneurship, a more conservative business culture on the whole, and manifold difficulties in the acceptance of non-British or non-British linked qualifications. The writer recalls some of these points being expressed from about 1990, and all of them were heard by 1996. James Koh (who expanded Contec Data Systems in Christchurch) discussed them the following year.(62) Such concerns may have caused hesitation about coming even after acceptance for entry, thus accounting for some of the discrepancy between the ‘approved for residency’ figures and the number of actual migrant arrivals. Others may have been delayed for other reasons, but a delay in coming was allowed.

In the writer’s opinion, another adverse factor acting against the employment (and hence eventual settlement) of a number of new Chinese migrants is their attitude. They have come with an excessive wish for an easy ‘life style’ while they educate their children. Perhaps they had been influenced by a recruiting mention of a ‘great life style’. Be that as it may, the Hon. Aussie Malcolm (a former Minister of Immigration and present-day immigration consultant) thought they have come for ‘the sizzle and not the steak’ - particularly, he said some migrants in the General Category.(63) Given significant disadvantage or hardship, they may retreat (and return to where they had come from, or cross the Tasman where the grass seems greener, or go to North America) rather than face the test. They are not like traditional immigrants who are determined to acquire wealth and utilize talents to prove themselves and regain control over family destinies.(64)

Nevertheless, New Zealand may follow to a greater or lesser degree the common American experience in the turning of many fine immigrants - even those with technical or scientific skills - towards self-employment and entrepreneurship. In running their businesses they show common attitudes and strategies - hard work and singleminded devotion to building their business, comfort with risk taking, strong ethnic community links and values, fresh perspectives on business opportunities, tight deployment of resources, concentration on market niches and close ties to their customers (who frequently are members of their own community).(65) These are working features which can earn success in any endeavour. Usually the immigrants start small, use family labour, live frugally, focus on quality and do only what they can do well. As their skills and networks expand, so do their businesses. Some such American firms have successfully utilized community ties across the oceans, tapping into connections in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere to gain wider markets and venture capital. America itself has realised that if immigrant entrepreneurs are provided with greater access to capital, employment and training, the country could help them to channel ‘more of their extraordinary energy into productive enterprise.’(66)

So far, it appears that the Chinese newcomers’ investments in New Zealand have been mainly passive - ‘one has no second chance with hard-earned capital and, when unsure, it is best to play for safety.’(67) Early successful big business enterprises of Chinese migrants included Contec Data Systems and the Lakeland Hotel in Queenstown. However, as is customary for new immigrants everywhere, most of their businesses are in the small size range, many to serve the migrants themselves. In 1996 in Auckland, the latter included language schools, property agencies, stores, supermarkets, butchers and other food shops, many restaurants, furniture shops, travel and immigration agencies. Those newcomers who catered for the general public included acupuncturists, herbalists, ‘Chinese medicine’ doctors, and importers of pottery, rugs and computers. Many bought housing and commercial buildings for rental, often to other newcomers or Asian students. Since 1996, growing occupations are homestays for students and still more restaurants and noodle bars. Laundromats, dairies, cheap item ‘two dollar’ type shops, and photography and video hire shops have also appeared.

Medium and large sized businesses of Chinese migrants are still few and concentrated in Auckland. But they may be the beginning. The former size include the Lim family’s ceramics factory; computer design firms and wholesalers like Information Technology and Security Services, Times Technology and I Way Computers in Auckland and Golden Leaf in Dunedin; Chinese food factories like Sam’s Chicken; property developers like L and Y Holdings and the Suncern Group; and Jean’s Natural Herbs Ltd. Big projects are a mere handful. The Chinese scheme for Britomart has failed(68) but successful ventures are the Auckland Institute of Studies (a private tertiary institution with some 150 staff and 1300 students); a high quality golf course; World Television (WTV), a distribution network for Asian programmes; Ernslaw One Ltd (with forestry, salmon farming, scientific instruments and land development interests); and Tsung-Hui Pan’s Sherwood Manor Hotel and Waterfall Park in Queenstown. Not included are branches of Chinese firms with head offices outside New Zealand.

Last year (2000) the chief executive officer of the giant international courier Exel in Singapore told the writer of increased business from all types of Chinese enterprises in New Zealand, although ‘mainly short term’ as yet. Overall, an interval of around 15 to 20 years appears to be needed before most Chinese (and European-New Zealander) residents have acquired enough capital, expertise and social networks to establish noteworthy ventures which could grow. This length of time applied to Choie Sew Hoy, Chew Chong, Hugh Sew Hoy (the chief New Zealand-Chinese businessman of the writer’s parents’ generation, who arrived in 1938 and established clothing factories from 1959), Tak Hung and Steven Wong.

While some newcomers have become established in business, many others have not yet. M. Ip surveyed the employment profile of Chinese newcomers over the previous 10 years from 1996 and found that only 12% were self-employed. Another 20% were fulltime wage and salary earners, 8% were unemployed and seeking work, and more than 58%, including university graduates, were not part of the labour force.(69) However, many students may have been in the last group, and student numbers may have also partly accounted for the relatively low unemployment rate found in this survey. In figures which include Kiwi Chinese, the 1996 census recorded 21,003 full-time and 6,672 part-time Chinese workers, 4,302 were classed as unemployed, and 29,208 were not in the labour force. Out of 7,410 Chinese known to be on unemployment, domestic purposes, sickness and invalids benefits, 5,733 were on the unemployment benefit. Another 4,476 were on the student allowance. Probably all these figures are incomplete because over 20,000 Chinese - like one million others - did not answer the employment and income questions. Since then, the granting of social welfare and student allowances to permanent residency newcomers has been tightened up, imposing a two-year wait from the date of entry into New Zealand in all but the emergency benefit and tertiary students’ loans. Using commissioned data files of the 1996 census, Lidgard et al found that 24% of Taiwanese males and 22% of Taiwanese females were unemployed and actively seeking work, and the respective percentages for Koreans and Hong Kong Chinese were 21% and 23%, and 18% and 15%.(70) Ho et al additionally found that about 33% of newcomers from mainland China were unemployed and actively seeking work.(71)

These figures indicate a serious unemployment problem among Chinese newcomers; a worrying situation since employment is one of the anchors securing newcomers to a new land. This is especially so for mobile, young, quality migrants. Some reasons are already mentioned but another key factor is the English language, the poor command of which hinders the formation of new social networks and denies the full utilisation of high skills. In their search for work, some newcomers also encounter racial discrimination, and no doubt this exists, although the writer himself has seen reasoned refusals and criticism of shortcomings misinterpreted as racism by individuals at the receiving end. This year (2001), the Auckland Chamber of Commerce has participated in a drive to diminish negative perceptions holding back the hiring of Asian newcomers. In the face of the disadvantages, many newcomers turn to the food industry, which serves universal tastes; the rental industry, where the owner retains simple but full control; and enterprises which serve other newcomers.

Because of the unemployment problems of the Chinese and other Asian newcomers, do they use more social services than the average New Zealand citizen? There is a paucity of relevant New Zealand statistics but it seems likely that social patterns are broadly similar between the immigrants of America and this country. The American experience is that immigrants ‘always’ earn less than native born Americans when they arrive. Yet even if they are poorly skilled (as most of their immigrants are) they substantially catch up financially in their lifetimes, not to mention in the lifetimes of their children and grandchildren. Because immigrants initially earn less, the American-born citizens at first have to pay more taxes than they, and the immigrants receive a ‘little bit more’ in social services. Generally the latter services are not in healthcare or programmes for the aged (because of age selection in the immigration process) but in schooling. However, when the taxes are added up over the lifetimes of immigrants and their children, they actually pay more in taxes in the United States than they receive in benefits. This payment would be even higher should the United States particularly concentrates on selecting higher skilled young immigrants.(72)

For all their unemployment, one might conclude that a number of Chinese newcomers show little tendency to take on different and especially menial work in New Zealand when their plans are thwarted and their qualifications go unrewarded. Indeed, this tendency may be another reason for Ip’s large ‘not part of the labour force’ section of her survey. Perhaps this is partly because some had sold assets like property and shares before leaving and the additional capital buffers them from a compelling need to earn some money - for a time anyway (frequently for the three years needed to become naturalised, after which they leave New Zealand). It is said, however, that some mainland Chinese take on whatever work they may find, since they are generally the poorest recent Chinese subgrouping to come to New Zealand, perhaps little better off than the Indo-Chinese refugees when they first arrived.

Yet others, when faced with unemployment, adopted either one of two strategies. Many graduates have gone to a tertiary institution for more study and a New Zealand degree, which would bypass the qualification blockage. This strategy also enabled the impecunious individual to obtain a student allowance or loan, and if friends flatted together, their combined allowances enabled them to live adequately - until the allowances were disallowed in 1999 for two years after entry in New Zealand. Mainland Chinese were the chief users of this fairly common route and some figures indicate that a significant but not overly excessive number of Chinese university students with permanent residency did seek the student allowance.(73) For this, the mainland Chinese university students especially were disparaged. The other strategy was for the chief rice-winner of the family to return to the previous homeland to work among pre-existing networks and familiarities. This route was often used by Taiwanese and Hong Kong Chinese who were nicknamed ‘astronauts’.

The first cases of ‘astronauts’ appeared very early, whereby heads of migrant families returned to the previous homeland and commuted to and from New Zealand where the rest of the family resides. To be sure, some astronauts were returning to prepare their businesses for sale or to await a pension to mature, but they were soon joined by others who were commuting out of necessity because they could not get employment in New Zealand. Though thought to be a fairly common phenomenon, no figures exist as to its prevalence. In fact, Professor R. Bedford has pointed out that there was no evidence to suggest that ‘what was known as astronaut families had happened on anywhere near a significant scale’.(74) To the writer’s knowledge these families show great commitment to each other and to New Zealand in tolerating such a major family separation. The writer’s acquaintance with several astronauts convinces him that most, if not all of them would have much preferred to have had relevant work in New Zealand. They bring money back to New Zealand for family living expenses.

Other writers have identified the astronaut phenomenon as part of a transnational readiness to seek employment across frontiers, a growing world tendency in modern times particularly for quality migrants.(75) In 1998, for instance, it was reported that 29,920 of 58,738 British immigrants coming to New Zealand in the past decade had left (76) and surely some of them had departed because of the transnational proclivity. One might wonder, however, whether the terms ‘transnational workers’ and ‘astronauts’ are merely variants of the old ‘sojourners’. At all events, Chinese sojourners, transnational workers and astronauts have been criticised in New Zealand as lacking in loyalty to, and involvement in this country, despite similar traits shown by European sojourners among the goldseekers era and throughout colonial life. Or indeed, by modern European-New Zealanders who go overseas for OE (Overseas Experience) to Britain, Australia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere to work and perhaps to return. The fact that their Chinese counterparts were - and still are - singled out for disapprobation is a reminder of the long apprenticeship newcomers and aliens usually have to serve when they wish to join new societies.

An inevitable consequence of the new immigration has been the creation in New Zealand of two Chinese resident populations. They are the recent immigrants and the long-established Chinese, unrelated to each other except by race, the latter astonished and somewhat perturbed to find themselves so outnumbered by the new Chinese arrivals. Looking at the incoming stream - and the huge concomitant ingress of Asian tourists and students actively sought by New Zealand institutions - the Kiwi Chinese marvel at the contrast of today’s opportunities with immigration policies of earlier times. The long-established Chinese, including mixed-bloods, were estimated from the 1996 census to now form about a quarter of the Chinese total.(77) Fortunately, both the recent and long-established Chinese appear to have largely comparable ranges of westernisation, so neither could look down on the other in this aspect. A few leaders on both sides are making some positive moves to get closer to one another.(78) Unfortunately, no one of regional (much less national) stature has yet emerged from any Chinese grouping to unite them all and speak with one voice - although the indefatigable Mrs Pansy Wong, originally from Hong Kong, and currently New Zealand’s sole Chinese parliamentarian (1996- ), is very praiseworthy in her endeavour to do so.

The new Chinese immigrants show several salient differences to Kiwi Chinese. Generally they have an urban background and are indeed quality migrants - high achievers with money or education, and skills to match - whereas the Kiwi Chinese had a Cantonese rural base before acquiring a Western education. Usually the new arrivals come as nuclear families from a wide diversity of origins - from Shenxi to Singapore - and to date they have developed few features of chain migration.(79) Hence they are more prone to loneliness, to combat which they have formed a greater variety of societies and associations than the old rural Cantonese migrants ever did. Naturally, the Chinese newcomers also tend to mix together according to their country or place of origin, thus forming subgroupings usually referred to as ‘the Taiwanese’, ‘the mainland Chinese’ and so on, each with their societies. They are analogous to the old subgroupings of the Kiwi Chinese based on Cantonese counties of origin, from which were formed benevolent societies called the Poon Fah, Naam Shun, Tung Jung, Seyip and Kwongchu Associations.

Since the newcomers have no previous links in this country, they are less interested in the Chinese past here, and have no stake in preserving the traditions and relics of that past. For all that, both newcomers and the long-standing Chinese families share a basic Chineseness, although most of the former (with the exception of Hong Kong immigrants) speak Mandarin Chinese, whereas the latter chiefly speak Cantonese. As a consequence, their common language usually is English.

Settling in.

Some observers think many New Zealanders still regard this country as a South Pacific nation, yet the increase in Asian immigration was an unmistakeable statement to Asia of the wish of many New Zealand leaders - at that juncture - to further develop ties with that continent. Unfortunately, the surge in immigration stirred up a brief but intense anti-Asian reaction such that the National Government (1990-99) was put on the defensive and amended its emphasis on Asia to a less dynamic perception of New Zealand as an Asia-Pacific nation. The present Labour Government (elected in 1999) appears to have followed suit,(80) although Prime Minister Helen Clark has recently made a tour of Asian capitals.

The Asian influx, including the Chinese component of it, settled in Auckland especially and Christchurch, the two cities with the main international airports. In Auckland, a city of over one million persons, Asians became about 10% (now said to have increased to around 12%) of the population, over 40% of the Asians being Chinese.(81) This kind of concentration has counterparts elsewhere, as in Vancouver and Los Angeles. On the one hand, the Asian immigrants added to strains in Auckland’s city infrastructure - in schools, housing, transport and water.(82) On the other hand, they appeared different from the humble Cantonese arrivals of old and many New Zealanders were at first either perplexed by or resented these non-European foreigners, both for their confidence and their wealth. In the context of Auckland’s economic problems, the resentment was illustrated in the term ‘Chowick’ for Howick, an upmarket suburb in Auckland favoured by the newcomers where the houses were around NZ$600,000 each.(83) The ill-feeling was compounded by the concentrated, rapid and apparently unrestrained increase in Chinese and other Asian numbers, and by the behaviour in some immigrants perceived by New Zealanders to be irritating - loud speech, the jumping of queues, a general lack of courtesy towards other shoppers, hard bargaining, having expensive cars and uncertain driving styles, and an alleged over-readiness by some to claim social welfare and the student allowance.(84) There were also exposures of rackets bringing Thai prostitutes to Auckland (in 1989 and 1992), and rumours of Chinese triads circulating since 1988, though the triad stories were later (1997) put into perspective by the head of Auckland’s two-men Asian Crime Unit.(85) In the background, the American and British media were becoming ever more vocal about China’s human rights record. Quite suddenly anti-Chinese and anti-Asian immigration controversy and racial abuse appeared in the open, sparked off in 1993 as the ‘Inv-Asian’ or ‘Asian Invasion’.(86)

As the influx and controversy continued, the National Government gave three months’ notice of really tough new immigration criteria to be introduced in October 1995. A rush of applicants occurred - no doubt heightened by the immigration agency system - of such volume that the applications were still being processed under the old criteria in November 1996. The new criteria extensively changed both the business and general categories, and included in both a difficult points system and an English language test for Asians much stiffer than that used in the past.(87) These changes possessed powerful blocking properties which greatly decreased the number and acceptance of Asian migrant applications (Table 3). The English test alone would have been effective thus, but the required points could be changed from week to week. In addition, all migrants had to have a returning resident’s visa for overseas travel, which was issued for a family only after the principal applicant had sufficient residence in New Zealand to qualify for New Zealand tax residence status (which also delved into world income). Clearly this visa was aimed at ‘astronauts.’ So much for the ideal of equal criteria for all immigrants, and the loss of this ideal for many non-English speaking Chinese and other Asians can be seen in comparison with the contemporary South African influx (Table 3). In 1994, the South Africans found it so easy to enter New Zealand they called the immigration procedures applicable to them ‘the chicken run’,(88) and their inflow registered no change after 1995.

Table 3

No. of Asian, British and South African approvals for residence among the top 10 nationalities for permanent and long-term N.Z. immigrants (of all categories), 1996-2000.

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

Taiwan 12,751

China 5,385 4,950 4,220 3,065 3,569

Hong Kong 2,742 1,118

India 3,590 2,311 2,433 2,652 3,585

Philippines 1,437 875 776 655 924

South Korea 2,836 913

Indonesia 949

Sri Lanka 747 671

Gt. Britain 5,478 5,507 4,840 4,218 5,080

South Africa 2,283 3,712 3,366 3,428 3,706

Source: Immigration Fact Packs.

Chinese numbers remained significant only from mainland China, from which country came highly motivated and qualified immigrants who tend to seek family reunification here. According to M. Ip, approvals (not arrivals) of Taiwanese immigrants numbered only 664 in 1997 and 344 in 2000.(89)

Immigration became a major election issue in 1996. Machiavelli said men’s hatreds generally arise from envy and fear. Since the Asian influx landed in a period of major social change and mixed economic performance, it is likely an underlying fear for many people opposing their immigration - even if they had no personal contact with Asians - was the possible takeover of jobs from New Zealanders,(90) although unemployment fell from 11% of the workforce in 1991 to 6.1% in 1996. Furthermore, Auckland figures in 1996 showed that only 5% of all the jobseekers enrolling with the New Zealand Employment Service were originally from an Asian country.(91) It seems that those in skilled trades and manuel work were the persons most worried for their jobs; and while it is generally true that ‘those people who compete directly with immigrants lose’, probably the fact was overlooked that most Asians who were approved principal applicants in the General Category had professional skills. Only 5% of them were trades workers.(92) In 1996 too, several New Zealand cities must have felt some benefit from the years of inflow of well-educated migrants with sufficient money to buy quality housing and goods - particularly in the immediate years after the grim 1987 stock market crash. Over 50% of Auckland’s growth in the first half of the 1990s was said to be due to international immigration.(93) Even in southern Dunedin, housing prices kept up or went up and significant optimism existed in sales and services because of the influx of only about 50 families each of Taiwanese and South Koreans (followed by another 50 families of mainland Chinese and some Indian migrants). Yet the Kiwi Chinese were surprised by the reappearance in this period of old catch-cries and larrikin action,(94) showing that New Zealand’s past perceptions of non-European aliens had not been entirely expunged from the national psyche.

In truth, however, the controversy had much less breadth and depth in proportion to population than the old public outbursts over Chinese immigration. It largely concerned Auckland, and although anti-immigration rhetoric did arise throughout the country, a brief appearance of the malignant virus of racism was not endorsed by political parties other than the small but vocal New Zealand First party, nor by newspapers or trade unions. This was a considerable contrast from the situation a century earlier, when all the trade unions, nearly all the newspapers and most of the politicians, were against the Chinese. But in 1996, many politicians, including the prime minister and deputy prime minister, publicly condemned any signs of racism; and strong statements were issued by the Jewish and Catholic Church leaders, although the Presbyterian and Methodist response was weak.(95) As for Prime Minister J.B. Bolger, his National Government’s introduction of the October 1995 regulations might yet be judged by history to have condoned the anti-Asian outcry.(96) But in keeping with the general background of decency, his party chose Pansy Wong as a Christchurch list candidate, and she entered parliament in 1996. Maori comments on the Asian immigration were mixed and except for Winston Peters (the head of the New Zealand First party), Maori leaders tended to steer clear of the controversy, partly because of the new considerations the growing presence of an Asian minority might eventually have on Maori-Pakeha relationships and the long-term application of the Treaty of Waitangi.(97)

The newcomers, it should be noted, are not the passive targets of racial prejudice that the old Cantonese Chinese in New Zealand were. As well as being more overtly reactive to racism, they have access to the vote, and have enough numbers in three or four Auckland electoral seats to make their votes count. In earlier times, politicians could safely ignore or abuse the Chinese, partly because of the usually unassertive nature of sojourners, and partly because they did not have the vote anyway, or were too few and scattered in numbers to make it count. That this situation no longer exist was shown by the formation in 1996 of two new though short-lived political parties which some Chinese newcomers joined - the Ethnic Minority Party of New Zealand and the Asia Pacific United Party. The Asians also held a street march in Auckland in protest against the prejudice they felt directed at them.

For all that, a truly remarkable development after the 1996 election was the steady diminution of anti-Asian feeling.(98) By the 1999 election, immigration was not an issue at all, not even revived by the New Zealand First party. A year earlier, the local body elections even voted in a Chinese (Ken Yee) to represent Howick, and there were eight successful Chinese local body candidates out of 14 throughout New Zealand. The surge of newcomers had noticeably slackened and it was as though many New Zealanders realised too, that they should not blame the immigrants for faults in Auckland’s infrastructure or New Zealand’s immigration policies, which allowed the rate of inflow to exceed Auckland’s absorptive capacity - both in structural systems and in the social acceptance of foreigners. Some of the writer’s friends hoped the immigrants realised that much of the feeling expressed against them had not specially risen because of race. The rapid ingress of any large group of strangers will create controversy, difficulties and fears. As a matter of fact, New Zealand history can produce examples of abuse hurled at European immigrants who were seen to be flooding in. For instance, the earlier Scots in Otago disparaged later influxes of Scots in the early 1870s, calling them ‘sallow-faced, shifty, loud-mouthed … hereditary paupers.’ In more recent times, the incoming thousands of Dutch in the 1950s were given a hard time for being too industrious and assertive and, in the early 1970s, it was the turn of the British (‘Bash a Pom’) and Pacific peoples. The point is that all newcomers to a society come under an edgy scrutiny, particularly when they arrive in large numbers. It is the ‘new boy on the block syndrome’, which newcomers should understand.

In the year following the 1996 election, the new government - a coalition of the National and New Zealand First parties, the latter with 17 seats and Winston Peters as deputy prime minister - began to abate the tough immigration stance with a speech in Hong Kong.(99) In December 1997 and October 1998, it began to soften and change the regulations. The incoming Labour Government (in 1999) signalled it will ease them further, especially the skilled migrant categories, but the English language requirements still remained a significant barrier for many.(100) Accordingly, the immigration of Asians remained more controlled than before the regulations of October 1995. At this point, one thought that if base level controls had been present in the first place and thought out and put in when the ambitious, even radical BIP and General Category schemes were introduced, both the influx and accompanying public reaction may have been less. Other signals were rather mixed. A stamp issue in 1998 focused on New Zealand’s multicultural society. In June 1999, the rumour - later unsubstantiated - of one ship with 102 Chinese ‘boat people’ heading for New Zealand led to the passing of urgent legislation to further ‘improve the effectiveness of the removal regime for persons unlawfully in New Zealand by streamlining the procedures involved [particularly in relation to claimed] refugee status.’(101) In late 2000, Asians appeared less favoured than others during a crackdown on overstayers.(102) When the long delayed ministerial Advisory Group on Immigration was established in 2001, it had no Chinese representative. On the other hand, the government established the Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand in 1994 to promote Asia to the public, and sponsored the Population Conference in Wellington in 1997 which gathered together much knowledge on population and immigration. It included four Asian contributors - R. Prasad (the Race Relations Conciliator), Pansy Wong, Manying Ip and James Koh. In 2001, a new, small Office of Ethnic Affairs was established, upgraded from a ‘desk’ in the Department of Internal Affairs.

Then in February and September 2001, the writer experienced a sense of déjà vu when announcements were made which would again revamp the immigration categories, aim to markedly increase the number of skilled and business immigrants (many of whom would be Chinese and other Asians for reasons already mentioned), substantially lower the English language requirements and raise the cap on the number of permanent residency immigrants to 50,000 annually.(103)


It is common sense that planning should be undertaken not only for sustainable entry numbers but also for social relationships after entry. But the New Zealand government has traditionally left immigrants to their own arrangements unless they were enforced refugees. Thus the Indo-Chinese refugees rated special help and churches were called upon to help them and family sponsors found to guide them. However, in the 1986-96 inflow, much bigger numbers of Asian newcomers had little or no support here, even though they too, were migrating from an Asian culture to a European one. Yet it is fair to say that New Zealand did not expect such big numbers of Asians and were ill-prepared to receive them. The real accusation is that most New Zealanders at all levels, Kiwi Chinese included, did not try very hard to help even when the extent of the inflow was realised.

A. Trlin’s New Settlers [Research] Programme has noted the absence of a balanced institutional structure of immigration in which an immigration policy regulating entry should have been complemented, he said, by a post-arrival policy geared to the economic, social and cultural needs of migrants to assist them to settle and integrate, and an ethnic relations policy, appropriate to a situation of emerging multiculturism, ‘which includes measures to foster inter-group relations, counteract xenophobic attitudes and combat discriminatory practices.’(104) More trenchant comments have been made by immigrants, including ‘Do New Zealanders in fact only want Asian resources but not want Asians as their neighbours?’ … ‘The government neglected the "bridging" needs - it took the profit from the immigrants but did not itself put in money to make the most of the investment in people.’(105) Presently, the Labour Government appears to be recognising the post-entry needs of all immigrants and is making some moves to minimise the problems and maximise the opportunities of their arrival.(106)

Even so, a visitor to Auckland in 1996 would have found the differences between the immigrants and the long-term residents being worked through, in large part due to the efforts of the new arrivals themselves. Law and order were never at risk of breaking down. The way of life of the dominant society remained unaltered. The biggest difficulty created by the migrants affected the Auckland schools which rapidly gained large numbers of migrant children who spoke little or no English. But the school problems were gradually being understood and addressed.(107) A primary need of the migrants was to improve their English but a Polytechnic English improvement class in 1996, to give one example, was oversubscribed by 1,000 would-be pupils. Private educational ventures sprang up to supplement the public services. In other ways the Chinese and other Asian migrants were usually self-supporting. They rented, bought or built their own housing. They had already formed various support groups.(108) The Chinese were publishing an ethnic newspaper and four other news-sheets, soon to be joined by a free weekly Chinese edition of the New Zealand Herald. They had established 17 new Chinese churches and nine Buddhist organizations. They were endeavouring to understand New Zealand, as evidenced by Manying Ip and others who were introducing Maori life to newcomers, and Song Lam, who was writing her book The Maori of New Zealand, Maori legends, traditions and history. Another book about New Zealand, A Piece of Jade in the South Pacific, was being written by T. Fang et al.(109) Candice Ng from Hong Kong published New Zealand Air Passengers’ Guide (1995), Wellington Police Crime Prevention Book (1996), and New Zealand Residential Property Investors’ Guide (1998), all in Chinese. A vanguard of Asians had entered Auckland’s academic, professional and business circles and were beginning to provide some voice and leadership. There was recognition of the migrants’ economic value, and they were estimated to have brought in a billion dollars in investment in the three years to December 1994.(110) The migrants also brought money for housing and other living costs - the Taiwanese alone were said to have brought to Auckland an estimated $750 million in 1995.(111)

‘Immigration has a modest but positive economic effect. It is not an engine of growth, its not going to transform your economy but the effect is positive, not negative.’(112) However, a large section of the New Zealand public unrealistically expected the Chinese and other Asian immigrants to stimulate the regional or national economy quickly and to a marked degree.(113) They were even expected to set up another Silicon Valley - with no planned backup like a startup park, nor with preferential policies nor with research and economic cooperation in place. When such high hopes were unfulfilled, often an unfavourable and unfair reaction occurred among the expectant Europeans. In this regard, commercial liaison committees were eventually set up to attract Asian money, but usually late. As to the migrants’ Asian and American qualifications, it has already been mentioned that many were either not recognised in New Zealand or the path to recognition was long and arduous.(114) The October 1995 immigration regulations corrected the Immigration Service’s previous flaw by requiring the prior registration of about 25 different types of qualifications in New Zealand before immigration. But surely it should not have been so difficult to have checked on the acceptance processes for many foreign qualifications before the introduction of the General Category. An invidious long-term effect of such shortcomings is that word of them gets back to the lands of origin. Another is that off-hand official treatment does not help to build bonding and loyalty to New Zealand.

Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, every community of Chinese newcomers have families and individuals who have succeeded, or are succeeding in putting down roots in New Zealand. Generally they retain numerous Chinese cultural features but being well-educated, they also have the potential to integrate well into the wider society. The widespread sociologists’ view is that the immigrants’ retention of their own culture confers advantages both on the individuals concerned and the nation.(115) Another advantage immigrants possess is a fresh perspective; ‘if you bring in people who replicate yourself … you don’t gain [much] at all … You gain because people come in who are different. The very fact that creates all sorts of other tensions about how you integrate people who are different, how you adjust your own population to deal with people who are different, is a source of economic gain in the first place.’(116) Successful newcomers in New Zealand include Betty Kwan (an expert on the measurement of fat levels in packaged meat); Chung-Pin Lim (winemaker); Allen Yip (athletics coach); Professor Yi-Huali Gao and Dr Yun Wang (mushroom experts), James Meng (opera singer); academics Professor John Chen, Elsie Ho, Manying Ip, Sylvia Yuan and many others, including Dr D. Zhang, an engineer researching titanium alloys from iron sands; Ou Lu (ballet dancer); Ping Wang (artist); Audrey Chan (vocalist); the Chan Cheng Quartet; Jiang Yuxian (story teller); Ann-Marie Houng Lee (writer); Aaron Li (table tennis player); Li Feng (badminton player); the Taiwanese Remuera Women’s Choir; the Formosa Choir (Dunedin); Yi Jin (harpist); Peter Chan (photographer); Yu-Fen Wang (choreographer); Onlie and Diana Ong (ceramic sculptors); Nancy Caiger (community worker); David Tung (seahorse breeder); Shifen Gong (editor of A Fine Pen, The Chinese View of Katherine Mansfield, University of Otago Press, 2001); and Drs Allen Liang and Swee Tan.

For all that, further Asian arrivals (Tables 3 and 4) have remained low in numbers and not only because of the remaining barriers. After 1996, New Zealand’s net gain of immigration over emigration steadily fell; and after 1999 there was a net loss (Table 1) which shows signs of reversing itself only this year (2001).(117) A major cause of the outflow has been the emigration of New Zealanders themselves, often to go to Australia, many with skills needed at home but dissatisfied with the employment outlook for them in this country. Their emigration has been recently joined by departures of recent Chinese and Korean (and South African) immigrant families. Some have gone to Australia and elsewhere; others have returned to Hong Kong, Taiwan and other places of origin.(118) By 1998, 8789 of 58,190 Chinese recent immigrants had left (119) and to date, Auckland may have lost as many as 30% of its Chinese and Korean newcomers.(120) The picture will become clearer when figures become available from the 2001 census. Some of these losses were statistically predictable, for it has been quite usual - both internationally and in New Zealand’s own history - for 40%-50% of emigrants sooner or later to return to their places of origin or go elsewhere.(121) Though one might assume the Chinese would find similar difficulties in Australia with social networks and qualifications, it is estimated that 50% went to Australia, while another 30% returned to their previous homeland, and 20% went to North America and other countries.(122) The return to a previous homeland includes China, which evidently is making an effort to attract talent back.

Table 4

Business applications accepted by category and nationality, March 1999-June 2000.

Employees of Entrepreneur Investor Long Term Total

Businesses Business

China 8 2 118 208 336

Hong Kong 9 23 32

India 1 1 10 12

Japan 1 2 5 18 26

South Korea 2 21 120 143

Taiwan 1 55 7 63

Thailand 1 9 10

Gt Britain 3 1 21 31 56

South Africa 3 4 7

Source: Immigration Fact Pack, July 2000.

The regulation changes in October 1995 had shrunk business application approvals from 2325 under the BIC to 14 under the revised rules in the June 1995-96 year. The inflow of business capital also fell precipitously.(123) Table 4 shows a subsequent improvement, especially from China(124) and North Asia generally.

These departures are more serious than the astronaut phenomenon because they take away whole families, whereas the astronaut families are still centred in New Zealand. Three examples illustrate the variety of reasons why families leave. A mechanical engineer hitherto employed in heavy industry could not find comparable work in Dunedin even though he spoke good English. He apparently gave away the idea of taking up other work. He whiled away the three years to his family’s naturalisation, after which he returned to Taiwan, where he took up a job offer within days. A medical specialist who could not practise here looked after his two young children while his wife took a post-graduate degree. When she graduated and the family were naturalised, they left for Melbourne where they had extended family. Because of her New Zealand degree she could work in her speciality in Australia and he then became an astronaut commuting between Melbourne and Taiwan. An energetic businessman in Dunedin founded a martial arts school, a monthly Chinese news-sheet, a video hire shop, and he also rented property, but still he found his financial horizons limited and after naturalisation took his family to Sydney. Possibly the common factor in all three examples is the perceived lack of suitable work in Dunedin; but to me, only the last man seemed to have tried hard to get employment here.

Included in the departures is an emerging group formed from young adults who emigrated here as adolescents with their parents in 1986-96. Like their parents, they had usually retained much of their old culture. They were recipients of one of the greatest advantages reaped by the immigrants, that of free education including tertiary study before the imposition of university fees in 1990 (and increased in 1994). As older children, many may have been unhappy here (125), but they gained a tertiary education. As graduates, their best future is often back in their previous homeland, where they still have family links, know the Chinese language fluently (unlike their younger siblings), have the precious possession of a university degree and a good knowledge of English. All these points give them an edge in applying for employment with a transnational firm. They do not all go back; the writer knows of some doing great service in New Zealand hospitals. And some of those who have gone may return after their ‘Overseas Experience’, and yet others will look back with some nostalgia for this country.

Despite the departures, it appears certain that when the 2001 census is processed, it will be seen that a sizeable portion of the Chinese newcomers have stayed and are settling here. And it is clear too that they will indeed become a significant segment in professional, academic and commercial circles, especially in Auckland. A New Zealand Chinese Scholars Association and a vigorous Chinese Medical Association have formed in Auckland, the latter affiliated to counterparts in Australia. Business organizations like the New Zealand Hong Kong Business Association, New Zealand China Trade Association, Sino-New Zealand Business Club, Taiwan Business Association and Asian Business Association have also been established. Newcomers play a significant role in these as well as in several sister city relationships with Chinese cities. Inevitably, sooner or later, a Pan-Chinese Association will be set up representing all the Chinese in New Zealand.

As to the younger children of the Chinese newcomers growing or grown up in this country, an increasing number have already become school duxes, won university scholarships and entered university specialist schools. As Manying Ip said in her speech of 25 October 2001, they and other Asians have already set an example in New Zealand of Asian effort and diligence which will influence and guide all ambitious young folk. Other Chinese are gaining distinction in a variety of ways. They include a host of young musicians like Beth Chan, Jasmine Chen, Henry Wong Doe, Chen-Yin Li, Li Liu, Susan Kao, Debby Wong, Carolyn Wu (Christchurch) and Carolyn Wu (Auckland). Furthermore, there are Bic and Boh Runga (vocalists); Y.M. Lin and Jo Luping (artists); Tania Ang (rhythmic gymnast); Jimmy Lim and Xiubi Zhao (fashion designers); Vanessa Wu (photographer); Alan Clark, Hwee Sin Chong, Jay Piggott, Shona Yu and many other students who have been praised in the media for scholarship; Lisa and Hong Looi (Tak Kwan Do experts); and Karen and Li Chunli (table tennis players). Incidentally, they are matched by a young adult group of Kiwi Chinese including Chantelle McCabe (a student and Rose of Tralee); Lydia Elliott, Luise Fong, Simon Kaan, Tan Yuk King, Denise Kum, Kathryn Lim, Eric Ngan and Quintin Young (artists); Venessa Ling Jack (photographer); Carolyn Meng Yee (T.V. producer); Lynda Chanwai Earle (writer); Angela Sew Hoy (community worker for the deaf); Rodney Leong and Sharon Ng (fashion designers); Jennifer Yee (T.V. cook and author of Discovering Asian Ingredients for New Zealand Cooks); Steven Lim (medical student and swimmer); Andrew Low (engineer and anaesthetics programmer); Kiri Wong (top all round Maori scholar and P class yachtswoman); and Jared and Sonya Kwok (hockey players). The writer has been unable to ascertain so far which group - newcomer or Kiwi Chinese - Jason Chan (a coffee expert), Adam Custins (a photographer with a Chinese father) and Nathan Haines (a jazz player with a Chinese grandfather) fit into.

The prime reason for most of the recent Chinese immigrants coming to and staying in New Zealand is likely to be their youngest children’s education and welfare. Jan Morris noted that in colonial days it was almost universal for British migrants to become disillusioned at some stage in their new environment, but they tended to stay on for their children’s sake. There is some academic and anecdotal evidence that this reason for staying also applies among the Chinese newcomers in New Zealand.(126) If so, their young children are unconsciously playing a crucial role in their families’ settlement, just as the writer’s generation did in the settlement of the Kiwi Chinese. Moreover, they will go through all the adaptive processes that we went through. During that time, they will see New Zealanders as the friendly, fair and tolerant persons as we saw them. And they too will become proud Chinese New Zealanders, confident in their New Zealand and Chinese cultural mix,(127) able to flourish here as in few other countries, and of good worth to New Zealand. Their non-Chinese peers and friends will grow up and regard a multicultural New Zealand society as the norm. When this full integration of the Chinese immigrants of 1986-96 occurs, New Zealanders may well look back and wonder at the fears and uncertainties expressed against their coming.


End Notes.

1. Otago Witness, 30 September 1865, pp.13-14. The first invitation was signed by Provincial Superintendent J.H. Harris and sent in January 1865. The second invitation additionally offered ‘the same protection as other residents receive’; it was probably signed by the Provincial Secretary and sent in October 1865 (the Superintendent was inland, out of Dunedin, the provincial capital). The original invitations have not been sighted as yet.

2. Otago Witness, 23 September 1865, p.9; and 30 September 1865, pp.10-11. Other qualities mentioned elsewhere were that they seldom meddled in the politics of the host country, nor did they notably chase after women. The latter quality was usually implied in statements on Chinese morality, their intermarriages and their relationships with children and young girls – as in the N.Z. House of Representatives, Appendix to the Journals, (AJHR), ‘Select Committee on Chinese Immigration’, 1871, H-5, H-5A and H-5B.

3. There were 4,159 Chinese in Otago in September 1871, according to the AJHR, ibid, H-5A, p.13, plus 205 arrivals to Dunedin on a ship in October 1871, (Outlook, 24 March 1906, p.8). The approximate total Otago population (including Southland) at the end of 1871 was derived from the February 1871 census total of 69,491 plus the figures given by the Provincial Superintendent at the opening of Session XXXIII of the Otago Provincial Council in April 1872. He reported on external migration and births and deaths over the previous year, which gave a net gain of about 4,849 persons. The figure of 5,000 or more between 1874-81 is deduced from annual arrival and departure figures in official statistics on external migration. The censuses in March or April, 1874, 1878 and 1881 noted 4,816, 4,442 and 5,004 Chinese respectively; the lower figures in March or April may have had something to do with Chinese New year - in a wish to return in time for or a reluctance to leave for New Zealand till after that occasion.

4. These percentages are based on a total New Zealand population of 3,618,303, a Chinese population of 81,309, and an Asian population of 199,164 (recorded in the comprehensive study of D. Bell, [ed.], Ethnic New Zealand, Towards Cultural Understanding, New Settlers Focus Group, Hamilton, 2nd ed., 1998).

5. These counties were recurrently mentioned in Rev. Alexander Don’s surviving writings on the New Zealand-Chinese; he was the sole missionary to them from 1879 to 1913. Particularly useful is his bilingual Roll of Chinese in New Zealand, 1883-1913, reproduced as volume 4 of James Ng’s four volume work, Windows on a Chinese Past, Otago Heritage Books, Dunedin, 1993-99. In 1896, Don’s Roll listed 1,080 Chinese in Otago, of whom 67% were from (upper) Panyu, 17% from Taishan and associated Seyip counties, 2.5% from (south-western) Zengcheng county, 3.5% from Heungshan (in districts now included in Zhongshan county) and 2% from Hua county. The proportions changed over time, so that in the 1950s, the Panyu, Seyip and Zengcheng folk were said to be about equal in number. The Panyu numbers possibly decreased because they tended to stay too long in goldmining and concentrated less on establishing small businesses outside the goldfields, which would have enabled them to gain a better foothold in New Zealand.

6. Rev. Don recorded a range of intervals in the sojourners’ returns to China but in the Outlook, 23 March 1901, p.21, he wrote, ‘Many a young wife has seen her husband leave, to return rich in five years: six and eight times five have passed, and he has not come …’ Don recorded that James Shum, ‘a typical [independent] rusher’ who landed in Otago in early 1871, had managed to save ‘over £100’ after much hardship by 1875 and returned home for a visit (Ng, ibid, vol.3, 1999, pp.330-45). The AJHR, 1871, H-5B, concluded that the Chinese goldseekers were content to leave after amassing a net sum of £100 upwards. The gold wardens who testified to this select committee recorded 8s-10s as the weekly cost of living for Chinese miners, and if doing well, as at Wakatipu, they were saving 15s-20s weekly. Therefore they could take home a maximum of about £250 in five years but ‘most’ Chinese goldseekers in the early Otago years had immigrated under the credit-ticket system and so were usually bonded for three years during which time they received wages but paid back the fare and other expenses like clothing and gear. Commonly, they had few savings in hand at the end of the three years (AJHR, 1871, H-5, p.5), but they had gained passage and experience.

7. Again Rev. Don had a range of the number of returns to China. But possibly an ideal formula was four visits to China during a 30 year working life, with each return averaging two years. This formula would place the final or fifth return at about 50 years of age. In the Otago goldfields, the saying was that a miner was past his physical best at 40 years and old at 50. The writer recalls that his grandfather and four of his market garden contemporaries in Gore left New Zealand permanently in the early 1920s, probably most in their early or mid-50s (having been delayed by the Great War).

8. Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past, vol.3, 1999, pp.330-45. This appears to have been the fare of a direct chartered ship’s voyage to Dunedin, without a stopover in Sydney or Melbourne, which would have added to the cost. This sum is probably confirmed in the N.Z. Presbyterian, 1 July 1884, p.3, where a Chinese told Don that he and a mate each borrowed 40 taels (then £13) for voyage expenses in an unspecified year (but possibly in the early 1870s) at 2% monthly (25% yearly over the Chinese year of 12 ½ months) interest. By comparison, the corresponding fare from Britain c.1870 was £13-£14.

9. There were many references over the years to this feature. In 1871 for example, the AJHR, H-5 included these statements, ‘The Chinese have a better idea of organization … They show a readiness to combine labour and are so much more amenable to discipline … more so than you could possibly get Europeans to be’ … ‘They work generally in small parties upon their own account and meet with fair success’ … ‘It is well known that the Chinese, by their more systematic and careful mode of operation, are frequently enabled to work profitably ground abandoned by European miners as worthless’ … ‘[The Chinese are] enabled to work auriferous ground profitably which otherwise could not be worked by Europeans for some time, owing to the absence in the latter of combination of effort.’

10. Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past, vol.2, 1995, pp.19-21.

11. In 1871, the lowest wage recorded were those of Chinese who worked for Europeans. They got around £1 to £1 10s weekly, with living costs taking 8s-10s of that, according to gold wardens and G.B. Barton in the AJHR, 1871, H-5 and H-5A. The Tuapeka Times, 5 October 1871, confirmed that Chinese could be employed for 20-25 shillings a week. Thus their savings were around 50%, and if they did better than that in goldmining, they saved more.

12. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Edinburgh, 10th ed., 1902, vol.27, p.30; Outlook, 24 December 1904, p.16. For the price of silver (which was almost but not quite the value of silver currency) see: W.F. Spalding, Eastern Exchange Currency and Finance, Pitman and Sons, Bath, 4th ed., 1924. (Incidentally, for the Chinese dollar exchange rate, 1935-45, see A.N. Young, China’s Wartime Finance and Inflation, 1937-1945, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1965).

13. See Grey’s memorandum to parliament, AHJR, 1879, D-3.

14. It seems impossible to quantify £100 in 1896 in today’s money. But F. Snedden, King of the Castle, A Biography of William Larnach, D. Bateman, Auckland, 1997, p.254, researched Statistics New Zealand figures and found that £100 in 1914 was equivalent to about $10,000 in 1996. No earlier equivalent, she said, was obtainable. From another viewpoint, one can compare the average wage of the past to those in equivalent positions today. About the time the £100 polltax was introduced, the average wage of artisans and storekeepers was around £2 10s to £3 a week. General labourers got around 7s a day or about £100 a year. (New Zealand Official Year Book, Government Printer, Wellington, 1898, pp.293-96). Another reference point for comparison arose when Dr Robin Gee of Auckland wrote that a house at the turn of the 20th century could be bought for around £300 (personal communication, 13 June 1996); and TV1, Pioneer House, 25 March 2001, recorded that a new three bedroom wooden villa house sold for £200 in Grey Lynn, Auckland, c.1900. One should remember that the Chinese wage generally was less than that of Europeans.

15. T.D.H. Hall, ‘N.Z. and Asiatic Immigration’, in A.T. Ngata et al, New Zealand Affairs, L.M. Isitt, Christchurch, 1929, pp.87 and 93. Hall mentioned the Imperial War Conference agreement on immigration restriction, as also recorded in the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, (NZPD), 1920, vol.187, p.905.

16. S. Brawley, ‘No White Policy in NZ, Fact and Fiction in New Zealand’s Asian Immigration Records, 1946-78’, N.Z. J. History, 27 (1), April 1993, pp.16-36.

17. Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past, vol.3, 1999, pp.105-11.

18. For example, a miner named Chan Tsoi said, ‘Let China imitate Japan, then Europeans and Americans will not tax us.’ (A. Don, Diary, 1899-1907, manuscript, Kirkland private collection, Dunedin, item 684, 1906).

19. This statement remains a broad one since the number of Chinese newcomers entering New Zealand in the nineteenth century is unknown, because the official figures did not separate out the re-entrants. Between 1866-73, there were no official figures for Chinese arrivals and departures, but in September 1871, there were estimated to be 4215 Chinese in New Zealand. (AJHR, ‘Select Committee on Chinese Immigration’, 1871, H-5A, p.13; 4159 were in Otago). A ship arrived at Dunedin in October, with 205 more, making the total to be about 4,420 in that year. They could be taken as the starting point since this total probably included few re-entrants. Between 1874-81, there were 4852 arrivals and 3307 departures, and a net population of 5004 in the April 1881 census. Then between 1882-1900, there were 2116 arrivals of whom 1274 were newcomers who paid the polltax. Presumably the rest were re-entrants. 3345 Chinese departed. The census population in 1901 was 2857. So we have 4420 (1871), plus 1274 (1882-1900) plus, say, 2400 or about half of the arrivals between 1874-81, giving an estimated total number of 8094 Chinese immigrants arriving in New Zealand in the nineteenth century. Probably this total is still an underestimate because of the lack of complete figures. The number of Chinese deaths in New Zealand also involves guesswork. The two mass exhumations of the Poon Fah (Panyu and Hua counties) Association (completed in 1883 and 1902) totalled 704 bodies. This association and the small Naam Shun (Namhai and Shunde counties) Society were the only known Chinese benevolent societies in nineteenth century New Zealand. In proportion to the Panyu and Hua numbers, other Chinese deaths to 1902 may have taken the grand total to around 1000. But the Poon Fah Association was also active c.1892 and may have undertaken more exhumations then; in addition after 1902, there were probably a few hundred deaths of aged Chinese goldseekers who could not or would not leave for China.

Even so, when one considers the approximate total number of immigrants, the census populations of Chinese and the approximate number of deaths, the figures indicate that most of the goldseekers made their way back to China, whether successful or not in their overseas ambition, dead or alive.

20. There were 93 mixed marriages recorded in the 1886 census. The decrease to 43 in 1901 was probably accounted for by departure to China and Australia.

21. In the Outlook, 7 October 1905, p.8, Rev. Don was reported saying: ‘When the surface mining was exhausted, many took up other occupations – fruit and fish selling, laundering, [market gardening] and storekeeping, spreading over the colony until now in Wellington, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay [which Don visited] hardly a town is without its Chinese tradesmen’. The New Zealand censuses, which eventually separated out the Chinese in detail, recorded their spread from the goldfields. At the turn of the 20th century, the centre of Chinese activity had passed from Dunedin to Wellington.

22.The parliamentary debate on the Chinese Immigrants Amendment Bill, 1907 (which introduced the reading test), prompted comments like this: ‘… during last year the largest number of Chinese women arrived [13 females] of any preceding year in the country’s history. The result of this is that we are having New Zealand-born Chinese children, who are unfortunately, brought up to live according to the habits of Chinese’. And, ‘There are in New Zealand at the present time fifty-five Chinese women. I think these figures alone will go to prove conclusively that is about time something is done to deal with this matter’. (NZPD, 1907, vol. 142, pp.839-40). Of the 55 females here in 1906, 32 had arrived from 1904. Forty of the total were wives. The writer’s impression is that many of the wives were from Zengcheng county, since they had early schools for females and men from this county were in most of the Chinese fruitshops cum groceries, which were among the most successful Chinese businesses.

23. The Harvest Field magazine of the Presbyterian Church gave the following information consequent on the increased price of silver: 9 July 1917: eight or nine Chinese dollars to one New Zealand pound; 8 July 1918: $6.40 to £1; 8 July 1919: under $6 to £1; 9 February 1920: last October the rate was $4.40, and last December, $3.87 to £1; 8 May 1920: $3.50 now equals £ 1; 14 December 1920: the rate is rising to $4.60 to £1.

24. The writer’s grandfather was said to be able to save half his earnings (presumably after expenses and tax) but his father and father-in-law were known to aim for one third, at least after World War 2. The 1936 census revealed that of 2223 Chinese males, 457 had no income, 1209 earned less than £104 per annum, 232 earned between £104-£156, 76 earned over £156 and 249 did not specify. By comparison, the average New Zealand income in that year was £160. The 1945 census showed much improved Chinese earnings.

25. The Chinese goldseekers acknowledged the general fairness of the courts (N.Z Presbyterian, 1 April 1885, p.184) and from what the writer heard in childhood, this was the general opinion held by his father’s generation also.

26. P. Law, Too Much ’Yellow’ in the Melting Pot? Perceptions of the New Zealand Chinese, 1930-1960. M.A. thesis, University of Otago, Dunedin, 1994, pp.17-18.

27. New Chinese businesses were opposed whether they were of the traditional or new types. See Tuapeka Times, 19 September 1894, 15 May 1895, 15 June 1895, 13 July 1895 and 16 September 1896. Also Quick March, 10 July 1920, pp.45 and 51, and 10 May 1921, p.53; and NZPD, 1922, vol. 194, p.513.

28. The Wellington branch (including Christchurch and Wanganui members) of the Kuomintang (KMT) was formed in 1913 and the Auckland branch (including Hamilton members) in 1917. They were preceded by the Chinese Reform Party in Wellington at the turn of the 20th century and by the Tung Meng Hui, also in Wellington from c.1910. Both Wellington and Auckland sent delegates to the Sydney conferences of the KMT organisations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) was essentially a new organisation constituted in September 1937, following the failed United Overseas Chinese Association (1928) and the even earlier Chinese Association (1909). The NZCA absorbed other Chinese patriotic bodies which had sprung up throughout New Zealand except the KMT and county associations.

29. A prevalent belief of the Kiwi Chinese is that they raised either the top or second highest sum per capita of all the overseas Chinese communities; namely over £230,000 in levies and donations and some £250,000 in Chinese war bonds from 1937 to 1945. New Zealand war bonds were additional. As yet there is no confirmation for this belief, but C.P. Sedgwick, The Politics of Survival: A Social History of the Chinese in New Zealand; PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 1982, pp.404 and 698, gives NCZA figures for 1937-44 amounting to £174,149 in levies and donations (which went on into the last week of 1945). As a result of the organisation and publicity required for collection, most Chinese got to know each other the length and breadth of New Zealand.

30. Every Chinese employer was levied 10 shillings weekly (on the assumed, average net earning of £5 weekly) and every employee 2 shillings in the pound (on the assumed average wage of £3 weekly). Even children’s wages were levied. These figures reflected the increased earnings of Chinese in New Zealand after the Great Depression and are interesting in comparison with the contemporary New Zealand basic wage of £3 16s weekly for male adults. However, increased earnings for many employers did not eventuate till around 1940 and so their levies were negotiable, especially since, say, the gardeners’ incomes might fluctuate with the seasons. Nevertheless, many in this predicament voluntarily gave the full levy or more.

31. Census report, 1936, vol.IX, Race, p.1

32. Personal communication with Chin Bing Foon, 18 June 1996. The Chin family was joined by the families of Yee Gnar Wah and Young Tong Shing in what seems to have been an incipient immigration scheme for prominent Chinese businessmen, before this was superseded by the Chinese refugee scheme.

33. N.R. Murphy, A Guide to Laws and Policies relating to the Chinese in New Zealand, NZCA, Wellington, 1997, p.251, notes that the Chinese refugee scheme was withdrawn in 1940, due to complaints from European fruiterers and other traders. However, the backlog of approved applications was presumably allowed to proceed. Other applications after 1940 were perhaps approved on an ad hoc basis. That may explain why the late application of the writer’s family was approved not on a refugee basis but because the writer’s grandfather had been naturalised in 1906.

34. The New Zealand-Chinese fundraising for China was not generally known (though approved by the New Zealand government) but what was publicly known - vegetable production (said, with no known survey, to amount to 80% of the fresh vegetables for the public), the promotion and buying of New Zealand war bonds, sharing the work at receptions for soldiers, etc - won much goodwill. Thus the NZPD, 1944, vol.266, pp.633 and 635 recorded: ‘The standing of the Chinese in the community was excellent; he had contributed to every patriotic effort that came his way… a good citizen’).

35. These are incomplete figures which do not include mixed-blood Chinese recruits, of whom it is known that Wing Commander Andrew F.H. Tye, DFC, and another airman Wm H. Lip Guey both died in action. Pilot Officer Willie Lee (actually Chan) learnt to fly in China, and died in a Spitfire accident in Gt Britain. Nurse Ivy Chiu (nee Gin of the Wah Lee merchant business) of Auckland served with distinction with Chinese and American forces in south China.

36. R. Thompson, Race Relations in New Zealand, a Review of the Literature, National Council of Churches, Christchurch, 1963, quotes J.R. McCreary, ‘The Modification of International Attitudes: A New Zealand Study’, Dept. of Psychology, Victoria University, Wellington, Publications in Psychology, No.2, 1952. McCreary recorded racial attitudes which in 1952 showed Chinese preferred ahead of other coloured minorities but behind the Anglo-Saxon peoples and also Maoris and Pacific Islanders, Germans, Jews, Russians and Italians. Thompson additionally found that G.M. Vaughan, Ethnic Awareness and Attitudes: a Developmental Study of Maori and Pakeha Children in New Zealand, Ph.D. thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 1962, reached similar findings. A. Trlin, ‘Social Distance and Assimilation Orientation: a Survey of Attitudes towards Immigrants in New Zealand’, in Pacific Viewpoint, vol. 12, no.2, September 1971, pp.141-162, still revealed similar findings (although in my opinion, the cumulative effect of my generation entering the general society, and the concept of multiculturism, were by then starting to cause a fairly rapid transformation of European attitudes towards the New Zealand-Chinese).

37. The Returned Services Association held the cachet of war service and was powerful, political, influential and pervasive in society. Not only was it anti-communist but it was also generally conservative and monocultural in outlook. Through ageing membership, its power declined slowly in the 1970s and more rapidly from the early 1980s.

38. On occasion, the suspicion was expressed overtly. For instance, during the Korean war a K Force soldier began a rumour that the Chinese in my hometown of Ashburton were communists or communist sympathisers, when he was told in our fruitshop on a Friday night that there were no bananas left for sale to him. The rumour swept through the town but enough Europeans supported the Chinese to reassure them to ride it out. The writer remembers how uncomfortable it was.

39. J.K. Hunn, Report on Department of Maori Affairs; with Statistical Supplement (24 August 1960), R.E. Owen, Government Printer, Wellington, 1961, pp.14-16. J.M. Booth and J.K. Hunn, Integration of Maori and Pakeha, No. 1 in a series of special studies, Department of Maori Affairs, Government Printer, Wellington, 1962.

40. J. Smith, International Perspective on Demographic and Economic Impacts of Immigration, in Proceedings of the Population Conference, New Zealand Immigration Service, Wellington, 12-14 November 1997. On pp.45-46 and pp.50-52, Smith reported that by the third generation, intermarriage almost reaches half in Asian and Hispanic ancestry communities in America, their fertility rates have converged to the national norm and economic differences ‘with the Mayflower generation’ have been erased.

41. Compiled from university graduation lists. After 1961, the number of overseas Chinese (Colombo Plan) graduates made compilation difficult. The writer graduated in December 1959 at the tail-end of the Chinese refugee graduates and knew most of the small group of Chinese university contemporaries throughout New Zealand.

42. E.S. Ho, The Challenge of Culture Change. The Cross-cultural Adaptation of Hong Kong Chinese Adolescent Immigrants in New Zealand. PhD thesis, University of Waikato, Hamilton,1995, p.24. She quotes C.Y. Chung, ‘In 1981, 24.3% of all New Zealand Chinese males and 16.2% of all Chinese females aged 15 years and over studied in tertiary institutions, compared with the New Zealand average of 7.1% for males and 6.1% for females’. New Zealand Now, Asian New Zealanders, Statistics New Zealand, Wellington, 1995, p.53, show similar percentages in fig. 8.4, for 1991.

43. M. Ip, ‘Chinese New Zealanders: Old Settlers and New Immigrants’, in S.W. Greif, (ed.), Immigration and National Identity in New Zealand: One People, Two Peoples, Many Peoples?, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1995, p.186.

44. Census, 1986, ‘Birthplaces and Ethnic Origin’, Tables 10, 11, and 12. These tables reveal that the total number of full-blood and mixed-blood Chinese in New Zealand was 26,304, of whom the full-blood New Zealand-born persons totalled 8,352 and those born in China, 4,572. It would be fair to assume that in 1986, the great majority of the full-blood New Zealand-born and China-born Chinese persons (plus an unknown number of Hong Kong-born relatives) comprised what may be regarded as the traditional New Zealand-Chinese community. The Chinese-European mixed-blood population was 2,556, of whom about 85% were New Zealand-born. The Chinese-Maori population was 807, plus 1,263 of further admixture. Most of these mixed-blood groups could be safely regarded as part of, or derived from the traditional New Zealand-Chinese community. Thus in 1986, the New Zealand-born and China-born full-blood Chinese, the New Zealand-born Chinese-Europeans, the Chinese-Maoris, and those Chinese-Maoris of further admixture totalled 17,064.

45. N.Z. Herald, 12 April 1996, p.1-5. Mr McKinnon also said 40% of New Zealand’s exports go to, and a third of New Zealand’s imports come from, Asia.

46. N. Murphy, ibid, p.304, reports the number of Indo-Chinese refugees and the Chinese percentage.

47. Personal communication with Hon. Kerry Burke, 31 March 2001.

48. K. Burke, Review of Immigration Policy, August 1986, Government Printer, Wellington, 1986. Mr Burke said to me there was ‘no problem’ in passing his review in the Labour Government. The Immigration Act, 1987 followed and spelt out procedural details (but not policy).

49. The government subcommittee comprised the MPs J. Anderton, R. Prebble, F. Gerbic and R. Northey. The No. 2 of Gates and Shroff was Don Bond, and their academic advisors included R. Bedford, J. Poot and Ruth Farmer. Shroff wrote ‘New Zealand’s Immigration Policy’, in the N.Z. Official Year Book, 1988-89, in which he acknowledged the influence on his department of J. Poot’s research on the relationship of international migration and the economy, much of it via a computer model. Poot embodied his thinking in the papers: J. Poot, G. Nana and B. Philpott, International Migration and the New Zealand Economy, A Long-Run Perspective, Victoria University Press for Institute of Policy Studies, Wellington, 1988; and J. Poot, ‘International Migration and the New Zealand Economy of the 1980s’, in A.D. Trlin and P. Spoonley (eds.), New Zealand and International Migration, A Digest and Bibliography Number 2, Massey University, Palmerston North, 1992. The paper by W. Kasper, Populate or Languish? Rethinking New Zealand Immigration Policy, New Zealand Business Roundtable, Wellington, 1990, was also influential. A.D. Trlin, ‘For the Promotion of Economic Growth and Prosperity: New Zealand’s Immigration Policy, 1991-1995’, in A.D. Trlin and P. Spoonley (eds.), New Zealand International Migration, A Digest and Bibliography Number 3, Massey University Printery, Palmerston North, 1997, p.4, summarised: ‘Poot et al (1988) demonstrated that an annual net migration gain of 15,000 people [which was] equated by Kasper (1990) with an annual gross intake of 30,000 [39,000 according to Poot, 1992] would [over 15 years] yield small but significant increases in the national income, living standards, population growth and the demand for labour … without adding to inflation as immigrants stimulated the economy with their demands for housing, goods and services.’ Other writers have added to the list of assumed benefits of immigration in the resulting genetic and cultural diversity, new skills and entrepreneurialship, new ideas and expanded international linkages. Consequently, New Zealand governments have in the recent past (Otago Daily Times, 21 March 1990; Dominion, 23 December 1997) aimed for net annual gains of 10,000 and gross intakes of about 35,000 but have been defeated by the uncontrolled factor of departures and unpopular immigration regulations. From 1 October 2001, the Labour Government is aiming for a gross intake of about 50,000, up from 38,000 in the previous year (Otago Daily Times, 17 September 2001, p.2).

50. M.E. McCollom, ‘Immigrant Entrepreneurs’, in J.A. Klein and J.G. Miller (eds.), The American Edge, Leveraging Manufacturing’s Hidden Assets, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1993, pp.163-65.

51. National Business Review (NBR) Weekly Magazine, 15 February 1991, p.14. This survey was conducted by the Lausanne business school, IMEDE, for the World Economic Forum. Also see Otago Daily Times, 19 May 1993, where New Zealand was also ranked 17th (behind seventh placed Australia) in the United Nations’ quality of life index. In an earlier editorial on immigration, the NBR, 24 August 1990, p.8, supported a net inflow of immigrants and concluded that, ‘It is from Asia New Zealand has most to gain from immigration’.

52. In addition, immigrants have told the writer that the political uncertainties of Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan at the time were also factors in their decision to leave. Ross Pauling, a senior partner in charge of Business Migration at Coopers and Lybrand, Manukau, noted four reasons: ‘the educational opportunities it offers for their children; its NZ policies and environment for racial equality and understanding, the stability of its Western-style democratic Government; and the relatively pollution free environment.’ (Coopers and Lybrand, Forecast, August 1990, p.5). Although they knew about the ‘quality of life’ features, obviously many immigrants did not fully know the difficulties of establishing business and earnings in New Zealand. Yet some may not have cared about all the details since they were coming for a less hectic life, a life style change (G. Reid, ‘Dreaded Asian Invasion a Myth,’ N.Z. Herald, 12 July 2000, p.A13; personal communication with James Koh, 7 April 2001). W. Friesen and M. Ip, ‘New Chinese New Zealanders: Profiles of a Transnational Community in Auckland’, in W. Friesen, M. Ip, E. Ho, R.D. Bedford and J.E. Goodwin, East Asian New Zealanders: Research on New Migrants, Aotearoa/New Zealand Migration Research Network, Research Papers, No. 3, Albany, Auckland, Massey University, Department of Geography, 1997, found only 10% of their survey had immigrated primarily for business reasons.

53. NBR Weekend Review, 18 November 1988, p.15: ‘ "People are looking for an insurance policy." And New Zealand’s is going cheap. "It’s the cheapest in the world".’ See also NZ Listener, 19 November 1988, pp.18-20; Otago Daily Times, 28 June 1989; and Listener and TV Times, 22 and 29 January 1990. Yet the BIP has brought in solid migrant families and money. However, the relative ease of entry by the BIP has also fostered a disparaging view that some Asian (and later South African) immigrants came to New Zealand specifically to use the country (after the granting of permanent residency or citizenship) as a ‘back door’ to Australia. Evidence to support this view remains anecdotal so far; I myself have not come across any such case.

54. Indeed, some commentators thought the BIP was actually designed to attract Hong Kong emigrants. For example, Colin James wrote, ‘the Asian profile has been growing, partly as a result of a programme designed to encourage wealthy Taiwanese and Hong Kong residents to bring their money … and business skills to New Zealand.’ (Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 April 1990, p.21). Others like Professor Michael Hill (of the Department of Sociology, Victoria University) had the same perception although A. Trlin and J. Kang, ‘The Business Immigration Policy and the Characteristics of Approved Hong Kong and Taiwanese Applicants, 1986-88,’ in A.D. Trlin and P. Spoonley, (eds.), New Zealand and International Migration, 1992, p.48, cast doubt on this aspect. Burke himself denied any design in connection with the Hong Kong exodus, and Gordon Shroff said to me he was actually worried about the Hong Kong potential influx as he thought many of them might be seeking a temporary rather than a permanent haven.

55. NBR Weekend Review, 18 November 1988, p.15.

56. N.Z. Immigration Service, Report of the Working Party on Immigration, March 1991.

57. N.Z. Immigration Service, Immigration Fact Packs.

58. ibid.

59. N.Z. Immigration Service, New Zealand’s Targeted Immigration Policies, July 1995, p.4.

60. NBR Weekend Review, 18 November 1988, p.16; ‘A general profile of Hong Kong immigrants to New Zealand is of couples in their late 30s and early 40s, with two or three children either approaching, or in adolescence. They are neither super-well educated nor super-wealthy, yet conversant in English, with a commitment to ambition and advancement and with an average up to $500,000 to $600,000 to do something with’. A. Trlin, and J. Kang, ibid, pp.48-64, found much the same characteristics for Hong Kong and Taiwanese immigrants, except that a high proportion of their sample were well-educated and the Hong Kong Chinese spoke better English than the Taiwanese.

61. Personal communication with Jean Wong, 28 March 1996. Mrs Wong, a prominent member in the Auckland Taiwanese community who was one of the first to arrive (in 1980), told me that while the BIP admitted numerous solid families of small businessmen, many other Taiwanese immigrants had the equivalent of a ‘few’ million NZ dollars, though their base of wealth often was still in Taiwan. Graham Chin from Malaysia, a bank manager for Asians in the Countrywide Bank (personal communication, 29 March 1996), confirmed that the first wave of Chinese migrants came particularly under the BIP and often had ‘three or four million NZ dollars net’. He said the second wave came mainly as General Category migrants and had less, especially after buying a house.

62. J. Koh, International Linkages initiated and/or established, in Proceedings of the Population Conference, New Zealand Immigration Service, Wellington, 12-14 November 1997.

63. Personal communication with Hon. A. Malcolm, 28 March 1996.

64. McCollom, ibid, p.164, wrote that ‘The very process of uprooting and resettling forces immigrants to become highly adaptive, ingenious and perservering.’ Perhaps this observation applies less to migrants emphasising the idea of a ‘great life style’.

65. McCollom, ibid, pp.168-70.

66. McCollom, ibid, pp.171-76.

67. Personal communication with Graham Chin, 29 March 1996.

68. Weekend Herald, 18-19 November 2000, p.E2.

69. N.Z. Herald, 29 October 1997, p.A13; and M. Ip, Successful Settlement of Migrants and Relevant Factors for Setting Immigration Targets, in Proceedings of the Population Conference, New Zealand Immigration Service, Wellington, 12-14 November 1997.

70. J. Lidgard, E. Ho, Y.Y. Chen, J. Goodwin and R. Bedford, ‘Immigrants from Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong in New Zealand in the mid-1990s: Macro and Micro Perspectives’, Population Studies Centre, Discussion Paper no. 29, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 1998, p.16. (The published reports of Statistics New Zealand are frequently so broad nowadays that one has to commission specific files, as probably happened in this paper).

71. E. Ho, J. Goodwin, R. Bedford and B. Spragg, ‘Migrants in the Workforce: A Preliminary Comparison of the Experiences of Chinese and Korean Recent Immigrants in 1991 and 1996’, Briefing Paper No. 7 prepared for the participants at the Population Conference, Wellington, 12-14 November 1997, Population Studies Centre, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 1997, pp.14-15; quoted by A. Trlin and A. Henderson, The Effects and Implications of Unemployment Among New Chinese Arrivals: A Report from the New Settlers Programme, paper presented at the conference of the Association for the Study of Chinese and their Descendants in Australasia and the Pacific Islands, and the Department of History, University of Otago, at Dunedin, 20-21 November 1998.

72. Smith, ibid, pp.55-59. The Otago Daily Times, 16 August 1997, p.16, reported M. Ip’s survey which found that each of about 1,000 Chinese migrants had taken an average income drop of $NZ21,000.

73. The subject of the student allowance caused public ire because it was thought that some Asian newcomers were claiming them on the grounds that their parents had little or no income in New Zealand, although suspected of having considerable assets either in this country (like an expensive home) or in the previous homeland. The story goes that Asian students were turning up in their BMWs to apply for the student allowance. Despite this, the mainland Chinese students may have received the most attention because they seemed to be frequent applicants. But there were genuinely poor Chinese students who were studying for another degree because their original qualifications were of little use for finding work. North and South, February 1997, pp.40-41, found that at Auckland University, 6536 were on student allowances; 1982 of them were permanent residents rather than New Zealand citizens; and 476 of the permanent residents listed their land of origin as Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China or Korea. In Canterbury University, 473 or 44% of the permanent residency students were receiving student allowances, compared with ‘only 30% of the New Zealand students enrolled at Canterbury [who] are eligible for student allowances.’

Now that student allowances are barred for two years after entry, another story has arisen concerning new immigrant students (allegedly from mainland China) who apply for the emergency benefit, obtain a student loan and eventually skip the country after graduation. The writer has heard variations of this story, commonly with the addition of getting parents to New Zealand and leaving them here afterwards to live on social welfare. But where are the hard figures? The reality from a doctor’s experience is that older people moved to a new culture and environment strongly tend to be social isolated, especially if family leave them alone.

So, while not excusing any exploitive students and their parents, one wonders how extensive the above practices might be.

74. N.Z. Herald, 15 November 1997, p.A5.

75. M. Ip, S K-M Kang and S. Page, ‘Migration and travel between Asia and New Zealand’, Asia-Pacific Migration Research Network, Massey University-Albany, No.2000/1. The authors suggest that the Chinese astronaut phenomenon in New Zealand has progressed in a significant number of cases beyond merely seeking work to the deliberate adoption of the transnational way of life as a means for possessing more than one citizenship, building multi-locality networks, and having multiple transnational work options. The authors think that this extension of the astronaut way of life will grow extensively in the present climate of globalisation. Be that as it may, my comment is that at their level, they have chosen a risky way of life with built-in instability of operations, a way of life not suitable for all. Perhaps it suits numerous southern Chinese and Indian trading families, but it has not been widely adopted by Japanese, for instance. Also, while dual nationality is acceptable in many countries, sooner or later a situation will arise in the course of living when the biblical text ‘You cannot have two masters’ will apply to these persons and families. Is it too far-fetched to think that just one civil crisis at one base could unravel a transnational’s well-laid plans? Transnationalism often appears to be a defensive strategy, as seen for example, in the Chinese advice in New Zealand given to offspring to take up medical studies ‘because medicine is a respected profession which can be practised anywhere in the world.’ The deliberate adoption of the transnational way of life may be another defensive strategy to disperse members of a family to other countries and citizenships. The dispersal may increase commercial opportunities but a principal aim is to ensure the survival and security of part of the family and its assets should civil catastrophe involve other members.

The Beijing Review, 15 February 2001, p.8, reports that there are about 130 million transnational workers in the world today. Yet this phenomenon is not new. J. Keegan, The First World War, Pimlico, London, 1999, pp.10-12, describes the turn of the 20th century as a notable period in the progress of an integrated international economy, with freely flowing capital based on London and other European financial centres, and complemented by world-wide intellectual, philanthropic and religious movements. That active phase of commercial interdependence, which substained many transnational workers, was accelerated by developments in steam and rail transport, the telegraph and stamped postage, rising populations, large scale migrations, new sources of raw materials and cheap manufactured goods. It was widely believed then that such interdependence would rationally prevent an extensive outbreak of war in Europe. But two World Wars followed when men and women had to choose where they stood, that is, what nationality they were and where their loyalties lay.

E. Cheung, ‘Loyalty and migrants’, in Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand, Review, March/April 2001, p.10, found that the members of the Hong Kong New Zealand Club had returned from New Zealand to Hong Kong for different reasons. Some could not find work in New Zealand, some were waiting for their (H.K.) pensions to start before returning to New Zealand and some were in Hong Kong selling New Zealand products full time.

76. N.Z. Herald, 13 May 1998, p.A17.

77. The estimate is based on the total Chinese population in 1996 (over 81,000), as against about 17,000 full-blood and mixed blood persons enumerated in the 1986 census who are presumed to be of Kiwi Chinese stock (see end-note 42), plus some natural increase since then.

78. The writer knows of only a few organizations in which different Chinese subgroupings are integrated together; they include the Chinese Medical Association and Vincent St. Presbyterian Church in Auckland, and the Dunedin Chinese Presbyterian Church and the Dunedin Chinese Language and Cultural Trust. In Auckland, the two main Kiwi Chinese societies – the local branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association and the Auckland Chinese Community Centre -- are not strong enough to lead other subgroups. But in every New Zealand city, there are Chinese men and women with goodwill towards other subgroups; Steven Wong in Auckland for example has formed the Chinese Associations of New Zealand which is getting a good response from several other organizations.

79. M. Skinner, A. Trlin, A. Henderson and N. North, Old Country Connections: The Importance of Relatives and Friends in International Migration, New Settlers Programme, Massey University, paper presented at the conference New Directions: New Settlers, Migration and New Zealand Society into the 21st century, Wellington, 12-13 April, 2000, reveals an early tendency of mainland Chinese to assist relatives and friends to New Zealand.

80. Personal communication with Mrs Pansy Wong, MP, 10 March 2001. Nevertheless, about 70% of New Zealanders now realise that Asia is the most important region for this country (T. Groser, CEO of the Asia 2000 Foundation, on Asia Down Under, TV1, 26 April 2001). This statement was based on the Asia 2000 Foundation survey on New Zealanders’ attitudes towards Asia in April 2000. The results were that some 69% of New Zealanders believed Asia was most important region to New Zealand’s future, ahead of the South Pacific (54%), Europe and U.K. (54%), Nth America (50%) and South America (22%).

81. R. Walker, C.W.D. Wu, M. Soothi-O-Soth, and A. Parr, New Zealand’s Asian Population: Views on Health and Health Services, Health Funding Authority, Auckland, 1998, Appendix A, lists city and district Chinese populations as follows: North Shore city, 6,441; Waitakere city, 3,726; Auckland city, 20,214; Manukau city, 12,540; Papakura district, 435; Franklin district, 489; total for Auckland region 43,845: Hamilton city, 1,479; Palmerston North city, 1,746; Upper Hutt city, 330; Lower Hutt city, 1881; Wellington city, 5,310; total for Wellington region, 7,521 [generally believed to be dominated by Kiwi Chinese]: Christchurch city, 5,925: Dunedin city, 2,256.

82. Auckland’s city infrastructure was put under strain because most Asian newcomers settled there and because many Chinese and Koreans limited their choice to Epsom, Remuera, Howick, Pakuranga and North Shore. These are well-off suburbs with good primary and secondary schools, and Mrs Lily Lee Ho (a senior Education Department official) and her colleagues told me that some schools were very stressed when their rolls were rapidly altered with large percentages of Asian children - 20% or 30%, and in one case (Pakuranga High), over 50%. The character of the suburbs also altered and, by 1996, new quality housing was being built wherever feasible with Asian buyers in mind. Housing prices went up in the ensuing boom, aggravated by immigrants buying additional property for rental. (The boom subsided with the fall in the number of new immigrants). As regards transport, Auckland is popularly reputed to be in a ‘gridlock’ position, and the water supply and sewage system need costly additions and upgradings because of the growth of the city. Enterprise Auckland, Asian Immigration. Economic and Social Survey, Auckland Institute of Studies, September 1996, p.3, found that Asian immigrants above all dislike the transport conditions in the city.

83. By 1996, it was estimated that residents in Howick had become about one third Asian, most of them Chinese (personal communication with Miss Samantha Wong, a local land agent, 24 March 1996). Whole new streets were being added on the periphery of Howick and about half the new houses were being sold to Asians. Miss Wong said the Chinese were often ‘buying down’, having sold their dwellings in their previous homeland for a much higher price.

84. New Zealanders usually don’t bargain and they dislike flash cars (or at least others owning them), the possession of which promoted comments like, ‘They [the migrant newcomers] had wealth and flaunted it.’ The hesitancy in driving, now less noticeable, may have resulted partly from wives (with ‘astronaut’ husbands out of New Zealand) driving in conditions different to what they were accustomed to. That some newcomers abused the social welfare system is indisputable; for example, upset Howick doctors reported apparently wealthy Asians using welfare community cards at their surgeries (Otago Daily Times, 25 March 1995), which gave each of them (and like Europeans) a medical subsidy perhaps totalling $300-$400 per annum. Probably these sums are for serious new ailments since all migrants undergo checks for a reasonably clean bill of health before arriving. There was suspicion that some Asian immigrants were ‘schooled up’ to claim welfare benefits, but ultimately of course the blame rests on individual greed. In 1996, no figures were available (personal communication with Hon. P.J. Gresham, Minister of Social Welfare, 5 June 1996). In 1997, it was reported that ‘more than 7,700 [unspecified] migrants [were] on some form of welfare benefit’ (Otago Daily Times, 13 November 1997, p.3).

85. Personal communication with Detective Sergeant S.T. Bennett, 5 December 1997; reported in Ng, Windows on a Chinese Past, vol.3, 1999, pp.260-61.

86. ‘Inv-Asian’: Eastern Courier, 16 April 1993, pp.6-7, special feature, part 1; "Wins and Losses in immigration lotto’: Eastern Courier, 23 April 1993, pp.6-7, part 2. These articles were syndicated to a number of free community newspapers like the Eastern Courier, East and Bays Courier and Manukau Courier. The immediate response included letters from M. Ip, A. Loo and Mee-Mee Phipps (East and Bays Courier, 5 May 1993, p.4; Manukau Courier, 6 May 1993, p.10). A complaint against the articles followed (Otago Daily Times, 29 April 1993) and was withdrawn, but then Dr T. Snowdon forwarded a complaint and the Press Council ruled that there was a case for rebuke in relation to part 1 (Manukau Courier, 10 September 1993, p.10).

87. The notice and new regulations were printed in the N.Z. Immigration Service’s document, New Zealand’s Targeted Immigration Policies. Summary of October 1995 policy changes, July 1995. The changes were also detailed in the N.Z. Immigration Service’s Immigration Fact Pack bulletins from February 1996. As to the rush of applicants trying to beat the October 1995 ‘adjustments’, the processing of their papers fell months behind and were still being processed under the old categories in November 1996, according to the Immigration Fact Pack of that date. This is what the Fact Packs said about the language test, ‘English language skills [are] also required by the accompanying partner and dependent children 16 years and over. The minimum English language requirement, if migrants do not come from an English-speaking background, is level 5 of the general module [with changing papers] of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) [of Cambridge University]. Principal applicants must meet this requirement, while non-principal adult applicants can instead pay a $20,000 fee which is refundable in full or part if the standard is reached within their first year in New Zealand.’ In other words, the government was assessing the extra social costs of inadequate English at $20,000 a person.

88. ‘Chicken run’: North and South, May 1994, pp.45-51.

89. N.Z. Herald, 12 July 2000, p.A13.

90. N.Z. Herald, 12 April 1994.

91. Personal communication with Hon. W. Creech, Minister of Employment, 4 June 1996.

92. The Listener Heylen poll in the N.Z. Listener, 15 October 1994, p.13, gave a breakdown of the 54% of respondents who were against more immigration from Asia, showing that most opposition came from skilled trades or manual workers. A.D. Trlin, ‘For the Promotion of Economic Growth and Prosperity: New Zealand’s Immigration Policy, 1991-1995’, ibid, p.13, found that over 50% of the General Category principal applicant approvals were obtained by professional persons, while managers were 11% and trades workers were only 5% of the total. The quote about competition is in J. Smith, ibid, p.53.

93. N.Z. Herald, 17 November 1997, p.A11.

94. A litany of abuse is described in the Taiwanese magazine, Sinorama, ‘A New "Yellow Peril" for New Zealand’, October 1996, pp.9-19. Also see, N.Z. Herald, ‘School erupts in race fight’, 25 March 1994; ‘Chinese fearful’, 12 April 1994; ‘Chinese abused, soaked in drink’, 25 April 1994; Otago Daily Times, ‘Skinheads target Asian youths [in Nelson]’, 18 July 1995; Eastern Courier, ‘Racial taunts in Howick’ 26 April 1996, p.5. There was also the formation of the extremist party ‘Kiwis against Further Immigration.’.

95. Jewish rabbis and Catholic bishops issued strong statements against the clamour (N.Z. Herald, 8 June 1996, p1-20; Press, 21 September 1996, p.3) but the Presbyterian and Methodist Public Questions Committee was so weak in response that the N.Z. Herald, 8 April 1996, p.1-6, described their statement as ‘disappointing.’

96. The Hon. A. Malcolm may have presaged this judgement when he said that the October 1995 changes in immigration rules ‘legitimatised Winston Peter’s attack on Asians.’ (Personal communication, 12 March 1999).

97. Negative comments were made by Dr Ranginui Walker (see A.D. Trlin, ‘For the Promotion of Economic Growth and Prosperity: New Zealand’s Immigration Policy, 1991-1995’, in A.D. Trlin and P. Spoonley, ibid, pp.18-19), and the (Maori) Bishop of Aotearoa supported W. Peters (Otago Daily Times, 14 March 1996). Dr Walker was quoted in the Sunday Star Times, 28 April 1996, p.C6, ‘New migrants have no commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi’; and in his article ‘Immigration Policy and the Political Economy of New Zealand’ (which appeared in 1995 in S.W. Grief, Immigration and National Identity in New Zealand, pp.282-302), his best-reasoned points relate to the limited or even lack of consultation with Maori over immigration policies. Sir Peter Tapsell criticised bigotry and demogogues in the electoral seat of Winston Peters (N.Z. Herald, 29 June 1996, p.1-5). Sir Tipene O’Regan supported the Asian immigrants in the Population Conference, Wellington, in November 1997. Sir Paul Reeves also seemed to give support to the Asians, at least in trade (Otago Daily Times, 14 November 1997, p.3). Georgina te Heuheu, Minister of Women’s Affairs and Associate Minister of Treaty Negotiations spoke of Maori and Asian common features to a Wellington Chinese Community Forum (City Voice, 22 October 1998). Jenny Lee, Annette Sykes and Mike Smith expressed their positive feelings for Asians at the conference of the Association for the Study of Chinese and their Descendants in Australasia and the Pacific Islands, and Department of History, Otago University, in Dunedin, November 1998.

98. A NBR-Consultus poll in October 1995 showed that 51% of those surveyed thought this country had too many Asians; in March 1996 this percentage had fallen to 46% (Press, 18 May 1996, p.3); and in 1997, to 37% (Otago Daily Times, 13 December 1997, p.14). In comparison to past polls, A.D. Trlin, ‘For the Promotion of Economic Growth and Prosperity: New Zealand’s Immigration Policy, 1991-1995’, ibid, pp.17-18, reported an Insight poll in 1992 which found that 44% of respondents thought this country had too many Asians, and a TV1 Colmar Brunton poll in 1990 which found that 32% felt the numbers arriving from Asia should be reduced. The Asia 2000 Foundations April 2000 survey found that 29% of New Zealanders still continued to hold negative views about Asian immigration, compared with 36% in 1997.

99. Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1997, p.1.

100. Softening the regulations: Otago Daily Times, 23 January 1998, p.A6 (editorial commenting on the December 1997 changes). The N.Z. Immigration Service, Immigration Fact Pack, December 1998 and July 2000 describe the regulations to those dates. Difficulties with the remaining language requirements were reported and contrasted with Australia’s 500 hours of free language tuition by the Manukau Courier, 26 August 1999, p.9.

101. The quote is from the introduction to the Immigration Amendment Act, No. 1, 1999, in New Zealand Statutes, 1999, vol.1, p.120. The urgency was undertaken in order to insert further provisions on the detention, departure and wilful aiding of unlawful arrivals in the Immigration Amendment Act, No. 2, 1999.

102. The NZPD, 2000, vol.587, pp.5881-83, record Pansy Wong and Keith Locke criticising an amnesty scheme which appeared to favour long term, well-settled overstayers especially from the Pacific Islands over less long-settled Asian refugee-claimants and overstayers. Locke also ascertained the removal rate (from New Zealand) of overstayers in 1998/99; the figures he gave were as follows: Chinese, 14% of an estimated 600 persons; Tongans, 9% of an estimated 5000 persons; and Britons, 3% of an estimated 1200 persons.

103. Otago Daily Times, 10 February 2001, p.30 and 17 September 2001, p.2.

104. A. Trlin, N. North, R. Pernice and A. Henderson, The New Settlers Programme: Encounters, Responses, Policies: An Introduction to a Research Project, at the National Conference of New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils (Inc.), Massey University, Palmerston North, 14-16 November 1997. Subsequent criticism includes the report of the New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureau, Forgotten People: The Experience of Immigrants to New Zealand, March 2000).

105. Sinorama, October 1996, p.15; and personal communication with Graham Chin, 29 March 1996. H-K. Yoon (ed.), An Ethno-Geography of Taiwanese, Japanese and Filipino Immigrants in Auckland, Occasional Paper No. 28, Department of Geography, University of Auckland, Auckland, 1995, has these two insightful, migrant comments:

‘An immigrant’s lifestyle is a mixture of a life that is accustomed to and the new life that one has to get used to. This is not easy … to try and embrace a culture that is totally different to theirs is a complex process and not completely achievable … Life in a new country is like a maze, the migrant not only feels lost but there is also the struggle of finding their own ‘niche’ in a new country.’ (H.P. Baral, ‘Filipino Migrants in Auckland’, in Yoon (ed.), pp.171-72).

‘The New Zealand public (or the media) was not giving the Asian community time to settle and find their place in society … As one respondent commented, "while it is a culture shock for New Zealanders who have had so little contact with eastern culture, it is even more of a shock for Asians, who have to change their entire way of life. All we need is time - but time is something the media won’t allow.’ (T.M. Boyer, ‘Home Sweet Home’, in Yoon (ed.), p.80).

106. Press release by Hon. L. Dalziel; 12 June 2000.

107. According to Mrs Lily Lee Ho, a Kiwi Chinese who is the national English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) coordinator in the Ministry of Education, the worse time was in 1995, when some schools gained so many Asian newcomers. The initial ‘culture shock’ for teachers was partly eased when Asian parents formed associations and networks which established better dialogue with the education sector. The Auckland College of Education also helped by sending advisers to guide and assist teachers. With an ensuing wider spread of migrants all over Auckland, plus more government funding for language needs, the situation had decreased in intensity and prominence by 1997.

108. In Auckland and elsewhere, each district, each municipality and each school board seemed to be on its own in addressing the immigrant problem. Little coordinated aid was given to enable the Chinese and other Asians to settle in more quickly, enter employment or invest more quickly and proudly become New Zealand citizens more quickly. For instance, Lorna Wong was the sole Plunket Nurse (an adviser on infants and very young children) in the sole Chinese unit for the Chinese newcomers in the 1995 period. One is glad to report that this unit now has four nurses. Newcomers tried to help themselves – by manning the telephones of Life Line and Citizens Advice Bureau, by setting up a radio station, publishing newspapers, and setting up support groups based on previous homelands, churches, Buddhist groups, and the like. In this regard, R. Pernice, A. Trlin, A. Henderson and N. North, ‘ Employment and Mental Health of Three Groups of Immigrants to New Zealand’, NZ Journal of Psychology, vol.29, No. 1 (June 2000), pp.24-29, found widespread low mental health among mainland Chinese, Indians and South Africans in the first few months upon arrival, whether employed (most of the South Africans) or unemployed (most of the Chinese and Indians).

109. S. Lam, The Maori of New Zealand, Maori Legends, Traditions and History (in Chinese), The Publishing House of World Chinese Writers, Taiwan, 1998. T. Fang, G. Tian and L. Chen, A Piece of Jade in the Pacific (in Chinese), Guangdong Tourism Press, Guangzhou, 1999.

110. Otago Daily Times, 10 March 1995.

111. N.Z. Herald, 3 April 1996, pp.4-5. E. Ho, J. Lidgard, R. Bedford and P. Spoonley, ‘East Asian Migrants in New Zealand: Adaptation and Employment’, in A.D. Trlin and P. Spoonley, New Zealand and International Migration, 1997, p.43, quotes the Auckland City Council’s estimate in 1996 that immigrants invested about two billion dollars in the Auckland housing market in 1995, while another one billion was spent on household goods, vehicles and other property investments.

112. J. Smith, ibid, p.53.

113.There was widespread expectation in New Zealand that the migrants would quickly ‘bring a welcome boost to the job market and economy’ (Christchurch Mail, 19 November 1990, p.3; Otago Daily Times, 2 March 1991 [cartoon] and 24 March 1992; Metro, November 1991, pp.116-24 [‘Will the immigrants really kick-start the economy?’]). It almost appeared as a quid pro quo situation which might be simplistically expressed as follows: ‘We let you in, and you provide us with quick economic results!’ This expectation may have contributed to the angst against the astronauts - they were leaving and working in and appearing to benefit another land instead of New Zealand - and as indicated, against the immigrants as a body when the economic boost failed to materialise as much as the protesters hoped for.

114. For example, take the incoming medical practitioners who were admitted between 1991-95 without due consideration as to whether their qualifications would be accepted in New Zealand. The New Zealand GP, 24 January 2001, p.4, noted that in only three mid-90s years, New Zealand gained 536 non-nurse health professionals from the Middle East, 285 from South East Asia, 908 from South Asia and 1,329 from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. Only a minority qualified for registration here. In 2000, 1201 doctors applied to the Medical Council for a newly introduced, long overdue bridging programme for registration, with six courses catering for 300 doctors in three years. Some in the medical profession have claimed that around 600 South African doctors also arrived about the above period, but presumably they were able to register by an easier process because of their British linked medical schools.

115. McCollom, ibid, p.175.

116. J. Smith, ibid, p.53.

117. Otago Daily Times, 22 August 2001, p.8; TV1 News, 10 September 2001.

118. Hong Kong migrants throughout the world have been reported returning to that city since its successful changeover of sovereignty in 1997 (Beijing Review, 23-30 March 1997, pp.13-15). The returnees usually had acquired a foreign passport (in addition to one issued by the special administrative region of Hong Kong), thereby making it more convenient to travel and conduct business abroad. Among those returning from New Zealand, Eric Cheung (a reporter in the TV programme ‘Asia Down Under’) found mixed feelings and reasons for return (E.Cheung in Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand, ibid, p.10). The same probably applies to those returning to Taiwan and elsewhere.

119. N.Z. Herald, 13 May 1998, p.A17.

120. Personal communication with Rev. Stuart Vogel, 3 March 2001. He is the convener for the Chinese and Korean Presbyterian Churches in Auckland, and the estimate was arrived at by discussion between colleagues, parishioners and himself. He added that the departures occurred despite big losses in the sale of their homes.

121. M. Ip, S.K-M Kang and S. Page, ibid, p.5, quotes E. Laquian, A. Laquian and T. McGee (eds.), The Silent Debate: Asian Immigration and Racism in Canada, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1997, p.210: ‘From Italy in the early 20th century it was [a] 40 to 50 percent return rate [from North America] and for the English in the late 19th century it was around 40 percent.’ Laquian et al further thought that Chinese sojourners appeared to have been little different from that of many European settlers. R. Bedford and J. Lidgard, ‘Arrivals, Departures and Net Migration 1984/85 – 1995/96’, in A. Trlin and P. Spoonley, New Zealand and International Migration, 1997, p.40, wrote that ‘[departing] migration flows are common after a major influx of immigrants to New Zealand – they occurred in the 1960s amongst Dutch and English immigrants, during the 1970s amongst Pacific Island immigrants, and in the late 1980s amongst Asian [mainly Indo-Chinese] immigrants who moved to other countries such as Australia, especially after they obtained permanent residence status or citizenship in New Zealand.’ L. Winklemann and R. Winklemann, Immigrants in New Zealand: A Study of their Labour Market Outcomes – Part I, Department of Economics, University of Canterbury, prepared for the Department of Labour, Wellington, 1997, found that only around two-thirds to three quarters of the immigrants of 1981-85 who were recorded in the 1986 census, were re-enumerated in the 1996 census.

122. Personal communication with Rev. Stuart Vogel, 3 March 2001. One of the New Zealand features about Chinese immigration from the earliest years is that both their coming and their going excites adverse comment. At present, however, the race situation in Auckland appears quiet and public comment on the exodus is muted.

123. The 2325 v.14 approvals occurred in 1995-96 (Immigration Fact Pack, August 1996). The business capital inflow, presumably from North Asia, fell from $395 million in 1995-96 to less than $5 million in 1997-98, (W. Gamble, ‘ "Few lures" for Asian migrants’, N.Z. Herald, 29 March 2000, reporting an interview with M. Ip).

124. Mainland China is now the leading Chinese source among the top 10 countries with migrants coming to New Zealand. In 2000, 1,186 China nationals entered New Zealand in the General Skills Category (the successor in October 1995 to the General Category), 336 in the business categories, and 739 and 984 in the marriage and parent sub-categories respectively of the family category. Overall, the mainland Chinese immigrants seem to have the greatest persistence, the least wealth, a high percentage of tertiary qualifications, young children, the greatest urge of all the Chinese newcomers to reunify families in New Zealand, the greatest spread of cultural attainments of all the Chinese groups, a curiosity about spiritual matters, and a tendency to go to New Zealand universities and then leave the country in the search for work. A. Henderson, N. Watts and A. Trlin, Social Participation, Settlement Factors and Integration: the Experiences of Skilled Chinese Immigrants, a paper presented at the conference New Directions; New Settlers, Migration and New Zealand Society into the 21st Century, Wellington, 12-13 April 2000, discusses several aspects of the story of mainland Chinese newcomers. The figures in Table 4 may signal a new grouping of investor and business migrants from mainland China. A successful example of this new group is the Jing Li Bao factory for the manufacture of soft drinks at Paeroa. Professor Jilnaught Wong (personal communication, 2 May 2001), reports that these businessmen often come via the three year ‘long term business visa’ scheme which gives them time to establish a business. After that they can apply for permanent residency. The NZPD, Weekly Hansard 33, 28-30 November 2000, p.6969, recorded that this scheme had been 18 months on the statute books before the spouses of long term business visa holders no longer needed to have a work permit to come to New Zealand.

125. E.S. Ho, Y.Y. Chen, S.N. Kim and Y. Young, ‘In Search of a Better Future: Report of a Survey on Post-School Education and Employment, Choices Among Asian Adolescent Migrants’, University of Waikato, Population Studies Centre, Discussion Papers, No. 17, Hamilton, 1996. I have seen adolescent immigrants among the Kiwi Chinese go to school, and with the best of intentions be put into a lower class than their age and potential suggested because of their English language deficiency. Consequently they had few school friends and disliked school. Unlike adolescents in many newcomer families, they usually missed out on a tertiary education too, chiefly because they were needed to work in the family business.

126. E.S. Ho, M. Ip and R. Bedford, Transnational Families: Context, Evidence and Prospects with particular reference to Hong Kong Chinese Families in New Zealand, paper presented at the Fifth International Metropolis Conference, Vancouver, 13-17 November 2000, present new information on astronauts which indicates the importance of young children: that where entire Chinese families migrate to New Zealand, there are fewer astronauts; that migrant families with younger children also have fewer astronauts; and that after a number of years or upon retirement, astronauts tend to reunify with their families in New Zealand. Further, there is ample anecdotal evidence that the young children soon adapt to school, wish to speak English at home, forget much of their Chinese language, prefer New Zealand food and agitate to stay in (or return to) this country. They form perhaps the most important anchor securing a family to New Zealand.

127. S.H. Ng, J.H. Liu, C.S.F. Long, and A. Weatherall, Links across Generations among New Zealand Chinese, School of Psychology, Victoria University, Wellington, 2000, found that young Kiwi Chinese still significantly retain respect for, and obligations toward family elders.

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