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 Ship containing wrecked Chinese coffins identified

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Caro
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PostSubject: Ship containing wrecked Chinese coffins identified   Fri 21 Nov 2014, 06:12

I often have difficulty deciding which category to put posts in, but this one might fit as well as any, though it's about specific individuals.  I may have mentioned before the Chinese goldminers who worked particularly in the Queenstown area during the 19th century.  The Chinese men came over and worked the gold, in particularly the areas that others had abandonned as too difficult. This week we have heard that a ship containing the remains of almost 500 Chinese men has been found after being wrecked off the NZ coast in 1902.  Thirteen lives including the captain were lost, but the ship was known for the coffins on board. They generally intended to return to China but this didn't always happen, and the coffins were send home to their family areas.  But these ones on the Ventnor never reached home. 

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1411/S00432/wreck-of-ship-carrying-remains-of-chinese-gold-miners-found.htm

It is interesting that this site has emphasized the present-day links with China - NZ was the first developed nation to have a free-trade agreement with China and right now the Chinese president is in the country.  (Hopefully this time we haven't deliberately hidden Falan Gong protestors from his sight, as was the case last time.)   The Chinese were welcomed here originally, then when economic conditions soured, so did NZ's attitude to the miners and at one stage there was a poll tax imposed on anyone coming in from China.  In recent years Asian immigrants have increased a lot, with students arriving, people buying land (often controversially), and others settling here. That's not just Chinese, of course, but Korean, Thai, Japanese and Malaysian. 

Most of the individual men from China disappeared from history but some of them made their home here and became a strong part of the community.  The Choie Sew Hoy mentioned was part of a family who had set up a merchant business in Dunedin years before, and his descendants are apparently the only known ones as the vessel's manifest went down with it. (I don't know the word manifest like this, but it must include a list of the passengers.) His descendant wants to take his great-grandfather's remains back to China now. 

Another well-known (in his area) Chinese man was Chew Chong in Taranaki, who came to Dunedin in 1867 but set up shop there, rather than going gold-mining and then settled in Taranaki and started some dairy factories in the area, later marrying a local English-born woman and having 11 children. I find it interesting that a young English woman would have the courage to marry a Chinese man in those days. Chinese were known when I was young for being green-grocers.  Probably having their own businesses was easier than trying to get work with people who preferred white workers.  (Though the Chinese had a reputation for being hard-working, so maybe it was just a preference for self-employment.)

I suppose there will be quite a lot of cultural issues to work through getting the coffins back, if that is what is wanted, or finding suitable places for the coffins if not. Some of them have already been buried by Maori in the area where the ship went down.The ship now has a status which means nothing can be taken from it without permission.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Ship containing wrecked Chinese coffins identified   Fri 21 Nov 2014, 19:51

Caro,

interesting stories...read it all...

"I find it interesting that a young English woman would have the courage to marry a Chinese man in those days. Chinese were known when I was young for being green-grocers."


Something like the great story of the parents of Han Suyin...
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/nov/04/han-suyin

I read the five autobiographic novels of Han Suyin beginning with "The Crippled Tree":
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/793712.The_Crippled_Tree
In that book she tells about her parents...how the Brussels/Antwerp girl, her mother, met in Brussels the Chinese youngster studying for railway engineer...and then later the trouble of her mother to fit in the greater household of her man's home in China...really fascinating literature...

Kind regards from Paul.
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