This was an afternoon event that was supported by 40 to 50 of mostly senior members of our community. Leading up to the event I was concerned that we wouldn’t have many attending, but was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of familiar faces. And an inspirational afternoon was had by all!
The session started with Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith talking about the Genographic project, tracking our ancestors through our maternal lines using mitochondrial DNA and paternal lines via chromosomes. I was wondering whether or not all this was going to go over the heads of the audience, but I needn’t have worried. The participants sat completely enthralled, seeing the route our ancestors took, travelling from Africa, stopping and mixing in the Middle East, some heading for Europe and others heading for Asia.
Carolyn King then spoke about how her POR PORs Cookbook. Carolyn King (nee Wong) was born in Dunedin, has a home science degree from the University of Otago and now resides in Ashburton. Due to the success of the 1st print of her book, which was first sold to members of our sister associations throughout New Zealand a second print was necessary to cover branches in the South Island. Carolyn began by saying that she wasn’t as young as Lisa and needed to use her notes. She spoke about how “we all can cook” but people under 40 spend more time eating out than in and don’t necessarily have the basic skills. She started to put together the book after trying 140 recipes and gathering life stories from 15 Por Pors. She’d had considerable interest from publishers, but after the University Press kept her on hold for 9 months, she decided to publish the book herself. Carolyn acknowledged two grants she’d received from the Chinese Poll Tax Trust, thanking Peter Chin directly, who was in the audience.
At the end of Carolyn’s talk, Peter Chin responded by saying that Carolyn’s work was equally as important as the recently published “Sons of the Soil” book about Chinese market gardeners in New Zealand. Indeed, funds would be made available for important works that preserve our history.
Following Carolyn’s talk, we invited attendees to spend a few minutes with Lisa to submit DNA samples. Consent forms were handed out by Lisa’s husband Brent and to my surprise, nearly everyone in the room queued to submit a sample. All participants will receive results from their personal submission in a few months time. For most of us the opportunity to see our ancestral line over 200,000 years was too good to pass up.
Concurrently, Carolyn mingled, signed and sold copies of her excellent book. If you’ve yet to see this book, it’s well worth a read with great stories and simple to follow recipes. At the time of writing, the association still has a few copies available for sale.
For more information about the genographic project