Waitaki District Archive 3742P: Chinese Community Float VJ Day Parade

Chinese New Year 2018

This weekend the wider Waitaki community has been invited to celebrate Chinese New Year in Oamaru Public Gardens with an International Food Court, Performances, Chinese games and more.

In 2018 the Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16. The exact date shifts each year as it is determined by the lunar calendar.

The North Otago Museum object collection gives little indication of the contributions that local Chinese people have made to our district. The Chinese textiles we exhibited at the Forrester Gallery last year had come from pakeha donors with connections to China, rather than from local Chinese people. And that is true of the few other items in our object collection with Chinese connections: a watch, a necklace, a walking stick and a number of antique Chinese whisky jars.

The items in museum collections are not complete representations of our history and it is a mistake to rely on them alone when trying to understand our past as we can miss important stories. When I am thinking about our future exhibitions I am conscious of what is missing from our collections. I want to ensure that we do not exclude stories simply because we don’t have collection items to support them. We are fortunate to have other sources and other ways of representing stories.

The Waitaki District Archive holds oral histories, photos and other records that relate to the local Chinese community. A great short summary of the history of Chinese people in New Zealand is available on Te Ara. Dr James Ng’s four volume work Windows on a Chinese Past, provides a detailed account of the history of Chinese in New Zealand including in North Otago and is available at the Oamaru Library. Another great resource that includes local people is Sons of the Soil: Chinese Market Gardeners in NZ.

I hope, as part of our future exhibition plans, to work with people in the local Chinese community and ensure that their stories are included in our new museum.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Chloe Searle