Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Growers' tales told

The Sons of the Soil book launch was held in the Pukekohe Library on Wednesday afternoon. Authors Ruth Lam and Lily Lee addressed more than 50 people in attendance before presenting local groups with a copy of the hardcover book. Sons of the Soil tells the stories of more than 100 Chinese men and women from market gardening communities all around New Zealand, covering the social and community history spanning more than 140 years. Reporter Natalie Polley went along to the launch . . Last updated 09:29 25/09/2012 http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/franklin-county-news/7723782/Growers-tales-told Waikaot Times
Pukekohe ladies, from left, Megan Fong, Stella Sue, Chee Sue, Mei Lan Young and Anna Young were at the cook launch as their families are all in the market gardening industry.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Family ties

Family ties By Alistair Bone | Published on June 17, 2006 | Issue 3449 China's allure for the young is growing. The Chinese paid for Anna Wong’s trip to China. The third-generation Kiwi went with a group of 18- to 25-year-olds, most of whom had never been there and didn’t speak the language. She now says, “I used to think China was kind of unapproachable to me, but I would definitely go back again.” Her response is just another indication of China’s growing allure for the young. Overseas education used to be seen as a ticket out, but a recent survey has shown that more than 90 percent of Chinese students studying overseas now say that they would like to go home after gaining their degree. And China wants them back. The country impressed Wong’s group during their cultural visit, although, as she says, they were wowed by deeds rather than words. “I don’t think it is a Chinese thing to talk about how good everything is or how cool you are. “We visited a high school, and they put on a big concert. They did a lot of performance items and it was the popular children in the school who were doing these things. In my Auckland high school, it might have been laughed at or mocked. But there, everyone was really encouraging and all the children got whoops and cheers. Even when we walked into their school hall we got huge applause because we were special guests. “It was a boarding school; they worked from 10 until seven. They are encouraged to get on academically,” she says, “and it is pretty much all maths and sciences.” Wong’s trip was organised by the Tung Jung Association, a Wellington-based outfit that was set up by immigrants 80 years ago to unite and maintain the identity and kinship of those who claim affinity to the Chinese counties of Jung Shing and Tung Quan. Wong is first generation on her dad’s side and visited his old home. “I felt quite at home. I didn’t feel strange at all. You would think it would be a total shock, just to see how different it is, but it was quite humbling. The living situation was quite poor. I don’t think I could see myself there. They have one clean side of the river and one dirty side of the river, no sewerage and dirt roads. “But I felt fine just walking around and all the people were friendly. We talked to the oldest people in the village and gave them the name of my father and my grandfather and they remembered who they were. Dad left when he was two. But 60 years on, they still remember people.”http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/family-ties/
Moving from journalism into public relations is usually considered going to the dark side – except when it’s PR for some worthy organisation like the Human Rights Commission, in which case it’s more like moving to the beige side. And, boy, as former Metro writer Gilbert Wong (the commission’s new “communications officer”) discovered, they do things differently in the public service. He was warned there would be a welcome. He expected tea and cake. He got a full-blown powhiri, complete with kaumatua. Tena koe, Mr Wong. http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/forking-out/

Gee Hong’s war

Gee Hong’s war By Imogen Neale | Published on November 3, 2007 | Issue 3521 How a Chinese play helped the New Zealand war effort in Auckland, 1945. It’s a timeless story. A young man is torn between filial responsibilities and patriotic duty. Does he stay at home and look after his aged mother and father? Or does he lace up his boots, pin his country’s flag to his breast and march off to war? The story’s setting could be Prussia, 1756, France, 1915 or United States, 2007. But here’s the twist. It’s 1945 in New Zealand and the story forms the backbone of a Cantonese play, written by a Canton-born immigrant for two Auckland-based Chinese groups hoping to raise money for the New Zealand Patriotic Fund. The play is performed once, in Cantonese, by local Chinese residents, to a capacity crowd at His Majesty’s Theatre, Auckland. The national Chinese population then hovered around 5000, or 0.3 percent of New Zealand’s population. The actors are all male although there are six female parts. The audience, an eclectic mix, includes journalists, locals, prominent businessman Sir Henry Kelleher and Auckland Mayor Sir John Allum. The next day, two local newspapers run laudatory reviews. In one, the reviewer says that that night they envied Cantonese speakers. Remarkable, really, given the level of anti-Chinese prejudice that local Chinese were living with. The highly decorated (QSM and ONZM) Chinese New Zealander Dan Chan was there that night. He had to be: he was the play’s official “Programme Editor, Script Translator and Chinese Calligrapher”. He was also a member of the two groups that had combined to stage the performance: the Dai Tung Music Society and the Auckland branch of the NZ Chinese Association (NZCA). After noting that, at his age, his memory isn’t as good as it used to be, Dan – who recently turned 100 – says that although the play, called Qizhuang Shanhe or Human Integrity and written by N Wai Poi, was assembled over a period of weeks, the decision to give it a public performance was spur of the moment. Indeed, in the play’s programme there is a detailed preface that notes “originally, they [members of Dai Tung Music Society] had no intention of appearing in public performances. We, therefore, hope that the audience will not pass judgement on their dramatic and artistic ability.” Of course their dramatic and artistic ability was exactly what the reviewers focused on. But the society needn’t have worried, with one paper stating that “especially in the group scenes there was a building up of atmosphere and spontaneity rarely seen in European performances” and another commenting: “Special word of praise must be given to the five men who played the women’s parts. So good were they in their impersonation that it was only after perusing the programme that one realised that women were not in the roles.” So, Act 1: China, July 1937. The Japanese claim that there’s been a violent Chinese-led confrontation at Beijing’s Marco Polo Bridge. They also claim that they’re missing a soldier and they’re holding the Chinese authorities responsible. The Japanese become impatient with the ensuing negotiations and bomb the bridge. The carnage that follows leads China’s Generalissimo Chiang to herald a national call to arms. He also issues a statement to the world: “China has reached her last limits of tolerance with the Japanese and must resist the Japanese aggressors to the end … We are combating Japan not for the negative purpose of putting an end to Japanese aggression, but as a means of contributing to a free world order of the future.” Act 2: we meet Chan Gee Hong, the young man about to face the “duty to the state or duty to your parents” dilemma. At his parents’ insistence, duty to the state wins: he’s off to war. To start with, however, his father’s boisterous birthday celebrations take centre stage. Act 3: Gee Hong is wounded and while he’s in hospital he meets Lee E-ha, a friend who has become a Red Cross nurse. Two things happen: they fall in love and Gee Hong’s mother becomes gravely ill. Once again he’s on the horns of a dilemma: to go or to stay? One might well ask why it was decided to stage Human Integrity. Particularly as, in keeping with Chinese theatrical tradition, women couldn’t appear in public displays and thus the female roles had to be played by men. Dan Chan says it was all about raising money for the Patriotic Fund, a government-devised trust of sorts that co-ordinated the public and private sector’s contributions towards the war efforts. Human Integrity‘s programme states a slightly loftier, heartfelt raison d’ĂȘtre: the musicians had volunteered their services to “help alleviate the terrible sufferings of humanity in this world conflict”. As historian James Ng highlights in an essay on early Chinese settlement in New Zealand, it’s not as though local Chinese communities weren’t already making significant financial contributions to the war effort. Indeed, since 1937, the NZCA had been systematically collecting funds to aid China’s war effort against Japan: employers were levied 10 shillings per week and employees two shillings in the pound. Even Chinese children had a levy imposed on their wages. Permitted by the government to send these funds back to China, New Zealand’s Chinese population is said to have raised, if not the highest, then the second highest sum per capita for an overseas Chinese community. Conceivably, however, another motive underpinned the performance of Human Integrity. For, according to Ng’s research, Chinese immigrants here were intensely patriotic towards China. As he says, they believed in the inner strength of China and the Chinese people. Many felt that if only China could once again shine in the eyes of the world Chinese people everywhere could escape ethnic discrimination. Perhaps, then, the underlying intention of the performance was to demonstrate a universality of life story. Which, of course, is right there in its title. NEXT PAGE: Gilbert Wong on the “Zengcheng New Zealanders”.http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/theatre/gee-hongs-war/

Man in a Suitcase review

Man in a Suitcase review By Sally Blundell | Published on September 1, 2012 | Issue 3773 Comments: Leave a Comment | Tags: Review PrintEmail Man in a Suitcase is a bleak, black, darkly funny study in dislocation, says Sally Blundell. Helene Wong, Ji Zhou and Stan Chan star in Lynda Chanwai-Earle's 'Man in a Suitcase', directed by Joseph Graves Helene Wong, Ji Zhou and Stan Chan, photo Sabin Holloway It was brutal, gruesome and darkly absurd: the 2006 killing of Chinese language student Wan Biao, whose semi-decapitated body was found strangled, knifed and stuff ed in a suitcase in the Waitemata Harbour. In the subsequent trial, Justice Priestley told the jury not to let any views about Chinese students and immigration “cloud their judgment of the facts”. In Man in a Suitcase, Lynda Chanwai-Earle, a fourth-generation Chinese New Zealander, explores these views through a fictionalised account of this wildly inept extortion attempt set within the wider context of the “Asian” diaspora. The annual intake of young language students, the so-called “little emperors” marched across the world for a double immersion in adulthood and English, is represented by doomed Chinese exchange student Wen Lin (Ji Zhou). Young and shy (and gay), he swings convincingly between teenage bravado and boyish reserve. In contrast is fourth-generation Chinese New Zealander Amy Tung (JJ Fong). Engaged to Wen Lin’s homestay “brother” Stuart (well-meaning yet culturally oblivious, as finely played by Harry McNaughton), Tung is confident, feisty, straining against her parents’ disapproval of her relationship with a “gweilo” (foreign devil). Framing the story is Myanmar refugee Kauki-paw, a would-be journalist, now a hotel cleaner. Brilliantly performed by Katlyn Wong, Kauki-paw moves from cutesy smiling “Asian” girl to appreciative refugee (“No frogs, no crickets, no guns”), exposing the deep-set insecurity behind the easy stereotypes: the cash-cow English language student, the worried but ambitious parents, the street criminals as presented here by Shi Li’s drug dealing Pete and Zhiwen Zhao’s sexually insecure Kim. This sense of displacement is conveyed through the minimal set by Gu Minwen and the pooled lighting by Joe Hayes. Characters appear often fleetingly, disengaged, isolated on the wide stage. The use of subtitles, projected onto a plain black panel in English and Mandarin, endorses this sense of cultural isolation. After a run of certain crowdpleasers, Christchurch’s Court Theatre has pulled off an impressive coup in this collaboration with the Peking University Institute of World Theatre and Film in Beijing (three of the actors are from China). Although references to the Christchurch earthquakes are an unnecessary conceit, Man in a Suitcase, directed by Joseph Graves, artistic director of the Beijing institute, is a bleak, black, darkly funny study in dislocation. MAN IN A SUITCASE, by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, directed by Joseph Graves, Court Theatre, Christchurch, until September 1. http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/theatre/man-in-a-suitcase-review/

Man in a Suitcase is a China

Man in a Suitcase is a China-NZ collaboration that takes a grisly murder as its springboard Interview - Lynda Chanwai-Earle Lynda Chanwai-Earle A sign the Court Theatre is making a good recovery is its programming of an uncompromising new work. The theatre had its renaissance plying its shaken public with comfort food in makeshift premises, but now it has decided to bring out the hard stuff. It seems Christchurch audiences are ready for something strong and dark. And you don’t get much darker than the subject matter of Man in a Suitcase by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, who has taken as her springboard the grisly 2006 Auckland murder involving Chinese language students and a bungled extortion attempt. In 2009, before Mother Nature intervened, the Court approached Chanwai-Earle, a fourth-generation Chinese-New Zealander, to write a work that dealt with the New Zealand-Chinese community in Christchurch. She came back with the synopsis based on the murder of Wan Biao, whose body was found floating in a suitcase in the Waitemata Harbour. “I also wanted it to reflect the refugee experience and post-refugee resettlement experience of having to live out of suitcases,” says Chanwai-Earle. “Ultimately, it’s about those stories of displacement and wanting to fit in, wanting to get on in New Zealand.” Gambling and cybersloth rear their heads, too, plus a nasty dollop of homophobia. Relocating it to Christchurch meant Lyttelton Harbour was a lot further away to float a suitcase. “Yet convenient for these completely hapless students,” she quips. “I needed it to be as ridiculous as possible to create moments of black humour – otherwise it’d be too dark. The thing that really struck me reading about this case was the extraordinary stupidity of these kids – cold-blooded but utterly stupid. They put the murder weapons, all their DNA evidence and passports in the suitcase, and I thought this is too rich not to put in.” Keen for a China-New Zealand collaboration, the Court contacted Joseph Graves, an American director who’s been living in Beijing for the past decade. As artistic director of Peking University’s Institute of World Theatre and Film, and with vast experience directing international theatre exchanges, Graves leapt at the challenge to workshop and direct Chanwai-Earle’s play, as well as facilitate a tour to the 2012 Beijing Fringe Festival. The story of the Chinese student who became easy prey to nefarious sorts resonated with him: “There’s this enormous number of young kids growing up in China with this dream of studying in the West and many go abroad on some half-promise, not knowing what they are getting into and not fluent enough in the English language to live and operate correctly.” He was also struck by the aspect of Chinese people living in New Zealand developing their own identities and the “often strange relationships between native Chinese people who remained in China and the Chinese people who have become first or second, and in some cases third or fourth, generations of living in another country – their experiences are vastly different. That mixing of milieus but both involving Chinese people by blood is fascinating. “Then there are the colourful aspects of the story itself, which transcend racial differences and have to do with human beings and how we interact – all those things made it a really interesting project.” As a director, he loved the theatricality of the piece: “Even though it deals with realistic subject matter, the way it’s going to be staged will have a dreamlike quality that will be really engaging to an audience and I don’t think will be quite as courtroom, in-your-face, as a more blatantly realistic staging of something like this would be.” All was set for the play to premiere at the 2011 Christchurch Arts Festival, and then the February 22 earthquake struck … “I didn’t know if the Court was going to be able to get back on its feet,” recalls Graves. “It has been a miraculous revival. It’s astonishing what Philip [Aldridge] and Ross [Gumbley] and the others at the Court have accomplished. “I never had any thought of leaving the project, because I’d invested a lot of myself into it and become very passionate about the piece and was hoping it’d be able to be realised in New Zealand and consequently in China.” Man in a Suitcase rehearsals Chanwai-Earle then reworked her piece to acknowledge the traumatised city: “This is not a play about the earthquakes, but unfortunately murders are happening regardless of earthquakes. I want to honestly reflect the [aftershocks] without them being a focus so they derail the play. It’s been like walking on a tightrope.” For the Court production, Graves is bringing a Chinese set designer and three Chinese actors to join five New Zealand actors (including Katlyn Wong, Helene Wong and Harry McNaughton), before the play heads to the Beijing Fringe Festival. “The hardcore work shopping we did in January last year, a few weeks shy of the February earthquake,” says Chanwai-Earle. “I’m just so grateful to the Court Theatre. ‘Let’s do it,’ they said. ‘Let’s make it happen this year.’ To still go ahead with this is amazing.” ­ MAN IN A SUITCASE, by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, directed by Joseph Graves, Court Theatre, Christchurch, August 18-September 1. http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/theatre/interview-lynda-chanwai-earle/

Friday, September 7, 2012

ANNA MAY WONG . . picture making—-and house hunting. Auckland Star, Volume LXIX, Issue 84, 9 April 1938, Page 7
TO SEE CHINA FOR THE FIRST TlME.—Members of the family of Anna May Wong, the Chinese screen actress aboard the President Wilson, bound for China and their first view of the land of their ancestors. They are all natives of California. Anna, owing to her screen work, could not go, although she was there to see them pff. From left: Wong Wai, Wong Suie, Wong Heung, Wong Sam Sing (father), Anna May Wong, Wong Kim (baby) and Wong Ying. Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 215, 11 September 1934, Page 5
Wong Ching-wei. Auckland Star, Volume LXX, Issue 49, 28 February 1939, Page 9
> EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 160, 9 July 1945, Page 3
Page 6 Advertisements Column 1 Maoriland Worker, Volume I, Issue 6, 20 February 1911, Page 6
Chinese orchestral sounds provided an interlude before lanterns were released at the Chinese Lantern Festival. Lantern festival lights up Hamilton Friday, February 24, 2012 17:20 Garden Place was buzzing when the Chinese community shared its annual Chinese Lantern Festival. Cultural activities, food stalls, music, singing and dancing all played their parts as a large crowd of all ethnicities gathered to enjoy the atmosphere. People enjoyed traditional Chinese cultural performances and food stalls, plus the traditional lanterns which were illuminated at dusk. The lantern festival is a free annual event for all ages, supported by Skycity Hamilton, the Waikato Weekly Chinese newspaper, Hamilton Central and Hamilton City Council.
Hamilton soccer legend Arthur Leong, and wife Maureen, with New Zealand's soccer Holy Grail - a Chatham Cup winner's medal.

Celebrating Chatham cup victory

Celebrating Chatham cup victory Saturday, September 8, 2012 6:00 Hamilton soccer legend Arthur Leong, and wife Maureen, with New Zealand's soccer Holy Grail - a Chatham Cup winner's medal. Surviving members of the Hamilton Technical Old Boys soccer team, which won the hallowed Chatham Cup in 1962, will share laughter and memories in Hamilton tonight. Six players will gather at Arthur Leong's Hamilton home to celebrate 50 years since they, as rank underdogs, won the cup by beating Northern, of Dunedin, 4-1. Arthur tried to trace others, some of whom he thinks went to Australia. Some may have passed on but Mel 'Nobby' Clarke proved to be his biggest mystery. "Nobby, a wonderful goalkeeper, sort of disappeared soon after we won the cup. No one really knows where he went, or what he did." Former players John Dekkers, Charlie Caldwell, Tom Henderson, Paul Nevison and Trevor Jones will join Arthur and his wife Maureen. In those days before 1970, the knockout tournament was played nationwide and the winners of the North and South Island competitions met for the final in Wellington. The Chatham Cup was presented to the then New Zealand Football Association in 1922 by the crew of HMS Chatham in appreciation for the hospitality they encountered on a visit to New Zealand. Tech Old Boys is one of the few clubs outside of the main centres to triumph in the cup knockout tournament. Arthur recalls the team's trip to Wellington was a great adventure. Everyone knew they were up against a class outfit, the pride of Dunedin, and holders of the 'cup'. He says Tech Old Boys selected their playing colours - maroon with light blue sleeves - after seeing English first division club Aston Villa's strip. "It did show the difference between us and the opposition. They came on to the field in their flash shirts while us Hamilton boys had home-made shirts sewed for us by Stella Wallace, the coach's daughter" (and mother of Margaret Wallace of city alteration workshop fame). He remembers the early days of the club, set up in the years after World War Two. He also recalls the club being wound up in 1964 - the same year he hung up his boots after a distinguished sporting career. Arthur Leong, fullback, inside back and centrehalf was a fixture in the New Zealand team from 1959 through to his retirement. Many other members of the national side played, at some time, with the Tech Old Boys. Arthur, who says that representative sport was almost totally self-funded at the time, attended Hamilton Technical School and later taught at Te Awamutu College and Fairfield College. He still has a competitive edge and plays golf up to three times a week with his mates at Horsham Down Golf Club. http://www.hamiltonnewslive.co.nz/news/celebrating-chatham-cup-victory/1534154/