Friday, March 29, 2013

Remembering the Dead Chinese in SS Ventnor

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Wreck of ss Ventnor

In a hauntingly beautiful area in Northland 
comes a story of two cultures and a discovery
 that will close a chapter in history. Their story
 began in 1902 when a ship left Otago carrying 
the bones of around 500 Chinese gold miners. 
They were returning to their homeland, but 
tragically the ship sank just a day after leaving 
New Zealand. Woven through the sands of the 
remote Hokianga Coast, the secret was kept for
 more than a hundred years before it was finally 

photo of ssVentnor

Not directly connected to the Kongs and 

Chans, My Mum's brother's wife's niece

is married to a man from China. 

His Great grand grand father

 came to Dunedin to work in the gold 

mines. He died together with lots of other 

Chinese man. The ship that were taking

 their bones back to China for burial sank. 

  The Chinese people were the only group 

of people to pay a poll tax to enter New 

Zealand. From 1881 until 1944, Chinese 

entering New Zealand were legally required 

to pay a tax - initially ten pounds but eventually

 rose to one hundred pounds.They were not 

allowed to bring their women. It was lifted in 

the 1930s when Japan invaded China  and 

repealed in 1944. The Chinese were also 

denied the right to naturalisation for more 

than 40 years.

 Helen Clark officially apologised to the Chinese 

People  in 2002 .She allowed all the descendants 
of those men to come to  New Zealand. Accordingly,
 the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Deed Trust was
 finalised in 2004 which established a community
 trust and a government seeding grant of $5 million.
The role of the Trust is to fund projects which 
encourage understanding of the history of the 
Chinese in New Zealand and to promote public 
awareness of ethnic diversity. The trustees are 
all direct descendants of Poll Tax payers.    

SS Ventnor event
Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 with a memorial ceremony (bai jei for the Chinese, lost with the sinking of the SS Ventnor.

The trip will comprise of ceremonies and plaque unveilings at the three marae sites, and a passenger ferry ride (weather permitting) to the site of the SS Ventnor wreck (10 miles off shore) where descendants of the village ancestors might like to burn incense, and/or other appropriate gifts etc…
Kawarua April 4th
Mitimiti April 5th
Omapere April 6th        Hokianga Far North
Tell/send information to your family and relatives
Expressions of interest needed
Register now for more information, updates, Q&As Auckland
Nanu She Cheong
Lynette Shum
Electronic copy requests
Wong Liu Shueng                                  

SS Ventnor event Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 with a memorial ceremony (

Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 – Far North
Thursday April 4th, Friday 5th, Sat 6th, Sun return to Akld.
Chinese Historical Ventnor Trail
Unveiling of plaques, and blessing of Educational Boards.
Wednesday 3rd April – Everyone will need to be in Auckland.
Thursday 4th April
6.30am – 6.45am Bus to leave Auckland - Fare approx. $40.00 per day ($160) Payment extra
10.00am Arrive at Te Roroa Headquarters – (koha included in event fee) No cell-phone coverage
                      Unveiling of plaque and blessing of education board
11.00am      Lunch – (included in event fee)
12.00pm      Trip to Kawerua (coast where bones and coffins were washed up)
                      Once in a lifetime – need special permission to travel out to area.
1.00pm        Bi san/Bei Jey[1] ceremony – Chinese community and Iwi.
1.45pm        travel back to Te Roroa Headquarters
2.45pm        Planting of Kauri trees in the Te Roroa re-forestation project.
                      Payment extra  $170 per tree but enough people then reduced to $150
                      Trees will form the Ventnor Grove.
3.45pm        Travel to Tane Mahuta
4.15pm        Travel to Omapere
Self cater evening meal in motels.

Friday 5th April
9.00am         Leave Omapere for Ferry from Rawene to Kohikohu (bus and passenger fees included in event fee) car extra.
10.30am      Arrive at Mitimiti – No cell-phone coverage
                      Powhiri – visitors called onto the marae (koha included in event fee)
11.30am      Move up the hill for  unveiling of plaque
12.00pm      Cup of tea (cost included in event fee)
12.30pm      Bi San/Bei Jey ceremony – Chinese and Iwi
1.30pm        Picnic on the beach, no café available (costs included in event fee)
2.30pm        Possible travel to North Head (15 min travel along beach or a lovely walk along the beach)
4.30pm        Return to bus – Briefing for following day
6.00pm        Ferry – Kohukohu to Rawene (bus & passenger  fee included in event fee -  Cars extra
7.00pm        BBQ at Lighthouse Motel for Chinese community (costs included in event fee)

Saturday 6th April
6.45am         Once-in-lifetime specially commissioned Ferry to site of SS Ventnor.
                      Time to light joss sticks, say prayers and return to shore
 Payment $75 1-20 people, $60 1-40people. If there is demand, First sailing 6.00am, second sailing 8.00am  Bookings essential         
11.00am      Signal Station Road – Bi san – joss sticks only
12.00pm      Bi San/bei jey on the sanddunes then lunch/picnic in area.  Time permitting, Exploring the Hokianga – a series of small excursions around and about.  Exact detail (tbc)
3.30pm        Return to motel – dress up time
5.30pm        Entertainment – at Opononi Hall, a surprise to warm your heart (Extra, meal fee)

Sunday 7th April
8.30am         Leave Omapere
                      Kerikeri Markets, Makana Chocolates, Wunderhussen toilets at Kerikeri
12.00pm      Leave for Auckland –
                      Bookings for connecting flights MUST be after 6.00pm Sunday if travelling by  bus.

[1] Bi san is the Chinese ceremony for the Dead conducted at the cemetery.
Bei Jey is when it is in a general location.

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