There was an advertisement on T V in New Zealand in the 1990s that had the headline “Don’t leave town until you’ve seen the country”. It was to encourage Kiwis to visit their own country before venturing overseas (we are surrounded by ocean down here at the bottom of the world).
Well, it seems that the world has come to New Zealand. A week ago we visited the Hamilton Gardens in the Waikato city of Hamilton. The garden there are quite unlike most other municipal gardens in New Zealand. Instead of the usual beds of plants and flowers laid out in the traditional English or European fashion, these gardens are set out in distinct themed country areas.
With only two weeks to go before our on trip “overseas” the visit to the gardens was timely. We would like to share images of our visit with you.
Although Dunedin was founded by settlers who were predominantly Scottish in origin and is known as the “Edinburgh of the South”, another ethnic group that played a significant part in Otago history was the Chinese. As in most settler countries that experienced big “gold rushes” in the nineteenth century, people from China were part of the ethnic mix of people chasing the allure of the yellow metal. It was also common at that time for European settlers to have a deep suspicion, even hatred, of the Chinese migrants, who were segregated, taxed excessively, denied status in the community, and consigned to menial work. But these people were resourceful. They came from a place where they knew real hunger and hardship and were looking for the better life that a fortune in gold could provide. The gold was, as usual, harder to find that everyone had hoped and many of the gold-seekers moved on the the next big find to try their luck there. Like others in the gold rush communities, some of the Chinese settlers saw opportunities to grow and sell food, provide laundry facilities and trade in other goods needed by the miners. As time moved on attitudes changed and the Chinese settlers gained more rights and became integrated into the community, but still retained their cultural roots.
As a fitting, permanent, recognition of the Chinese people who first came to Otago during the 1860s gold rush and stayed to establish some of the city’s businesses, the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust developed a yuanlin style garden in Dunedin which was opened in 2008. The garden has become an important attraction in Dunedin.