Thursday, February 23, 2006
On one of the information boards in the Chinese quarter we saw a facsimile of a local newspaper from the 1870s which referred to the Chinese in terms which (a)I cannot bring myself to reproduce here and (b)showed that at the time the Chinese were regarded as being a subhuman species whose habits were a source of disgust and fear. I don't know what habits the writer referred to, but I was interested in the shock I felt reading this in the bright sunlight beneath the trees. I couldn't help wondering what the group of Chinese tourists just behind of us thought of it - if indeed they could read it. I hoped they couldn't.
In fairness to 21st century Kiwis, I have to point out that the New Zealand Government has in recent years apologised for the treatment of Chinese migrant workers, many of whom had faced incredible hardship to make the journey here - hardship made bearable only by the hardship of the lives they were already living as peasant farmers in China.
Clicking on this photo will take you to other pics of the tiny huts they lived in - one of them seemed to have been wallpapered in old copies of newspapers. Now THERE'S an idea for all the old copies of TheGuardian piled up at The Blethers .....