History of Chinese immigration now online

Image of a Chinese New Zealander (from the online Exhibition)

The documented history of Chinese immigration to New Zealand from the 1880s, including their requirement to pay a poll tax, has been put together by a team from Archives New Zealand with the assistance of the Office of Ethnic Affairs. An inventory of records of Chinese immigrants held by Archives New Zealand is now available in the Australian e-journal Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies (volume 6).

Archives Manager Description and Discovery Margaret Parbhu said that during the year that her team worked on the project they came to better understand and appreciate the long and difficult history Chinese New Zealanders have faced. They hope there will be families who will find new stories of their ancestors and perhaps see a photograph of a relative for the first time.

What’s in the inventory?

The majority of records relating to Chinese New Zealanders held by Archives New Zealand’s four offices date from 1865 to the 1950s. Many cover immigration matters, including the Poll Tax. Other records relate to naturalisation, employment and miscellaneous subjects.

The Archives New Zealand Dunedin Regional office has an online exhibition of photographs from the certificates of registration for Chinese. These were issued by the Collector of Customs in Dunedin, and allowed Chinese to re-enter New Zealand, if they had left temporarily.

Over time the information will also be added to Archway, Archives New Zealand's online finding aid.

Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust

The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust (CPTHT) seeks to strengthen the unique identity of Chinese New Zealanders and their communities in New Zealand in recognition of poll tax payers. Administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, the CPTHT funds proposals that support the aims of the Trust and also have support from the Chinese poll tax descendant community.
Members of the Chinese poll tax descendant community and members of the wider community are encouraged to seek funding from the Trust for suitable projects.

Find out more on www.communitymatters.govt.nz.