24 April, 2018

Arrowtown Chinese Settlement Launch

As the Chair of the Otago and Southland Chinese Association, I represented the Chinese Community at the recent launch of the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement as a Department of Conservation National Landmark on 24 April 2018. The Department of Conservation is the guardian of the settlement and the launch was attended by the Mayor of Queenstown, Jim Bolt, and Consul General Wang Zhijian and D.O.C. Operations Manager Wakatipu, Geoff Owen. There was a guided walk of the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement following the launch. The guides were David Clarke of Department of Conservation, and Dr Neville Ritchie, who was the archaeologist that worked on the original excavation of the settlement. It was a very interesting talk by both. I have visited the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement several times. Each time I have found it a very moving experience as I observed up close and personal the toil and modest living conditions of the Chinese miners back then. There is nothing more real than standing there and putting myself in the shoes of those living and working there. It is a national treasure and we are grateful that D.O.C. maintains and keeps it open for the public. On the day I was there, there were plenty of Chinese tourists, but many who attended the ceremony were local New Zealanders who came to share this part of our history together. I think the Chinese who lived at the Arrowtown settlement would be very pleased to see how the Chinese have become a part of the New Zealand community and their history is now proudly New Zealand history. It should be noted that there are three Landmark sites in total in the Queenstown Lakes Area – and the other two sites are the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and the TSS Earnslaw. I am not aware of any other Chinese sites in New Zealand. The tourism industry sees landmarks as helping to fill the gaps in attracting people who are looking for an alternative visitor’s experience, one which combines culture and heritage with stunning landscapes. Teresa Chan