Yvonne Wilkie presented her address on the mission activity of the Presbyterian Church among the New Zealand Chinese to the Presbyterian Research Network.  Yvonne is the retired Archivist and now a researcher at large.  Her retirement project is a history of the Synod of Otago and Southland.

I did not take many notes from her talk.  Two thoughts occured to me:

  1. Dunedin was once as expansive as Auckland is now.  It was the time of the gold-rush in Otago.  The settlement increased from 2 000 people to a population of 15 000.  The Old Identities initially recoiled from the New Iniquities.  Obviously they bounced back to offer pastoral care to new immigrants, take advantage of the profits coming into the city, and ultimately become a counter-cultural group within the city as history spun a plot twist on them.  Even back then the Chamber of Commerce were flailing to make Dunedin a city of investment.
  2. White New Zealand was xenophobic to the migration of Chinese to New Zealand, using an exorbitant poll-tax and limits on numbers to restrict them coming to New Zealand.  Those working with the Chinese in New Zealand reported it as un-Christian legislation.  It was not until after the Second World War that these restrictions were finally lifted.  This limited the ability to create a strong multi-generational Chinese community in New Zealand, both assimilated to place and unique to that place.