The Chinese in New Zealand
New Zealand’s story: a centre of innovation at the edge of the world.
On the edge of the Pacific Asia rim, south east of Australia, lies the nation of New Zealand.
A small isolated country of great natural beauty, New Zealand is famed for its wide variety of spectacular landscapes; its sub-tropical beaches, lush rainforests and snow-peaked mountain tops. Within this environment live a vast array of rare plants and animals, many of these species are found nowhere else on earth.
About eighty million years ago New Zealand broke away from the great southern landmass of Gondwana. The islands became a ‘lifeboat’ for its plants and animals. Separated by the vast Pacific they evolved, adapted and survived often in remarkable ways.
New Zealand was one of the last places on earth to be inhabited by humans. When the first people arrived here less than on thousand years ago they, like the plants and animals they found, needed to be adaptable and innovative to overcome the isolation of their new home. These qualities have since become hallmarks of the New Zealand character.
New Zealand’s first settlers were the Maori from Polynesia. Naming their new home Aotearoa – ‘the land of the long white cloud’, they found islands that were climatically and geographically rugged, but abundant in resources. Half a century later explorer James Cook claimed New Zealand as a colony of Britain, thus beginning the country’s engagement with the wider world.
In the last 140 years New Zealand’s population has become truly multicultural. Communities from Europe, the Pacific and Asia have all added to the dynamic and vibrant New Zealand way of life. Here they found a life that was unencumbered with the weight of history; a new, fresh country that offered opportunities for all prepared to contribute.
After the Maori and the British settlers, the next major ethnic group to arrive in New Zealand were the Chinese. They first came to mine gold in the nineteenth century and have since gone on to hold positions in the highest ranks of politics, business and the arts.
Isolation from the rest of the world made innovation and creative problem solving a necessity for New Zealanders. Now that same ability has put New Zealanders at the forefront of many industries. From transport to the clothing and from navigation to cinema, New Zealand creativity, innovation, know-how and ‘can-do’ attitude has become the envy of the world.
The history of New Zealand is one of innovation through isolation. Like the many species who adapted, survived and thrived when these islands broke away from Gondwana eighty million years ago, the human inhabitants have also faced the adversity of isolation, and in doing so have developed ideas that have changed the world.