Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trustees announced

  • Chris Carter
Ethnic Affairs

Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter today announced the appointment of eight trustees to the newly formed Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust.

“I’m delighted to announce that Dr James Ng will chair the trust for its initial three-year term. The trustees joining Dr Ng will be Mr Peter Chin, Mr Ron Hoy Fong, Mrs Esther Fung, Ms Debbie Sew Hoy, Mr Kai Luey, Mr David Wong, and Mr Harvey Wu,” Chris Carter said.

The trustees were selected from the Poll Tax Advisory team that has been in consultation with the Government since 2002.

The appointment of the trustees follows February’s announcement by the Government of heritage initiatives aimed at raising awareness of New Zealand’s early Chinese community, which was subjected to discriminatory legislation. In February 2002, the Government apologised for that legislation which included the 'Poll Tax'.

From 1881, all Chinese migrants were required to pay a poll tax on entry to New Zealand. Other punitive initiatives also singled out Chinese people. Their right to naturalisation was withdrawn from 1908 to 1951 and they were compulsorily thumb printed upon returning to New Zealand from overseas.

"The Poll Tax and other unfair immigration practices had a terrible impact on early Chinese settlers. The Government sincerely hopes that the Trust will strengthen the unique identity of Chinese New Zealanders” Mr Carter said.

The trustees will administer a $5 million grant on behalf of their community. The trust will fund projects to boost the study and preservation of Chinese New Zealand history, culture and language.

"New Zealand has now been acknowledged as the first country in the world to apologise to its Chinese citizens for discriminatory legislation specifically aimed at them or their forebears. All New Zealanders can be proud of this announcement and I wish the newly appointed trustees all the very best" Chris Carter said.

Biography notes of Trustees.

Dr James Ng (Dunedin)
Dr Ng has vast experience with Chinese New Zealand history. He most recently worked as a General Practitioner and holds a number of board appointments including Creative New Zealand Arts Council and the Guardian Alexander Turnbull Library. James is also the author of a definitive history of Chinese gold mining in New Zealand called "Windows on a Chinese Past".

Mr Peter Chin (Dunedin)
Peter has extensive governance, local body, arts sector and community experience. He has been a partner of a Dunedin Law firm since 1968 and is in his third term as a Dunedin City Councillor. He also holds the position of Chief Gambling Commissioner. Such a range of experience will be most valuable on the Trust.

Mr Ron Hoy Fong (Auckland)
Mr Hoy Fong has a variety of involvements in the community and business sectors, essential when considering the requirements for investment strategy and financial assessment of funding applications. Ron is currently the Managing Director of a business that is involved with importing, manufacturing, wholesaling and retail marketing. He is also a former Chair of The Auckland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association.

Mrs Esther Fung (Wellington)
Esther has vast experience as part of the reconciliation process and also brings such skills as community language maintenance and community networks to the Trust. Mrs Fung is a retired teacher, formally Dean and Head of Physics Department at Hutt Valley High School. She has also held an appointment on the Community Trust of Wellington.

Ms Debbie Sew Hoy (Auckland):
Ms Sew Hoy is a Business Development Manager with wide ranging experience in a number of companies. She is currently a board member of Oranga Primary School and also continues to work in the family business. Her marketing experience and perspective as a young mother will greatly contribute to the Trust.

Mr Kai Luey (Auckland)
Kai is Vice-President of the New Zealand Chinese Association and also has significant experience in the Chinese community. His team skills and various networks will be extremely useful in the Trust's work. He has very recently been appointed to the Public Trust and currently runs a home-based business concepts company.

Mr David Wong (Auckland)
Mr Wong's networks cover a range of Chinese community groups from early settler to new-migrant groups and such skills will be an asset to the Trust's work. David is a Chartered Accountant and a former member and deputy chair of New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland branch.

Mr Harvey Wu (Wellington)
Mr Wu has significant experience in the early settler Chinese community and has been a key player in the Wellington community's most significant projects. He has made major contributions throughout the reconciliation process. He is also a Managing Director of a sheet metal and component manufacturer and is a former member of the Wellington Chinese Association.