Title / object name
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|Unknown ||manufacturer(s) ||circa 1900 |
wood, metal, burlap, lacquer, rope
|Overall ||670 (Height) x 700 (Length) x 500 (Width/Depth) mm|
Gift of Mr Bing Wong, 1995
Chinese settler Wong Tow carried his possessions in two black lacquer trunks when he immigrated to New Zealand around 1900. This one still has its original carrying ropes and hessian wrapping.
Wong Tow was born in Sunwai village in Canton (Guangzhou) about 1884 and probably emigrated around 1900. Like the majority of Chinese arriving in New Zealand, he came from south China. Most Chinese first arrived in New Zealand in the 1860s to work the Otago goldfields in the South Island. They came to make their fortunes and planned to return home with wealth and honour.
During this time New Zealand's settlement policy was not welcoming to Chinese. They, or any non-white migrants, were regarded as undesirable. The government imposed a poll tax of £100 on Chinese immigrants, and between 1907 and 1952 made it impossible for them to become New Zealand citizens.
Wong Tow stayed in New Zealand. He died in 1982, aged ninety-eight. His trunk was gifted to Te Papa by his nephew, Bing Wong.