Chinese settlement included in schools’ history curriculum

Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust chairman Malcolm Wong hopes new curriculum lesson plans and teacher...
Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust chairman Malcolm Wong hopes new curriculum lesson plans and teacher resources will help pupils learn about the role Chinese settlers played in shaping Otago. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Primary and intermediate pupils will learn about Otago’s Chinese settlers as part of a new history curriculum being rolled out in schools.

The new Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum recognises the major role Chinese immigrants played in the economic and cultural development of Otago, helping to establish the region as a commercial centre.

The curriculum lesson plans and teacher resources were developed by Sun Gum Saan Ltd, a charitable company jointly owned by the Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust and the New Zealand Chinese Association Otago Southland branch.

Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust chairman Malcolm Wong said it would help Otago's schoolchildren learn more about their multicultural origins by learning the story of Otago Chinese migrants, through the lens of the early Chinese community descendants.

This was part of the Aotearoa New Zealand Histories programme which aimed to highlight how the early settlement of New Zealand contributed to an increasingly diverse population, he said.

"It’s very important.

"It’s a golden opportunity for the Chinese community to express what it is to be ethnically Chinese in New Zealand.

"Many children in New Zealand probably don’t realise that there has been a large Chinese population here in Otago since the late 1800s.

"The involvement of the Chinese, and how far that stretches back, is important for everyone to know."

Details about the curriculum resources will be announced as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations on Sunday, at the Lawrence Chinese Camp, which is considered "the cradle of the New Zealand gold rush" and the birthplace of Chinese settlement in New Zealand.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and mana whenua kaumatua Edward Ellison were expected to be there, Mr Wong said.

The Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, began yesterday; those who celebrate ushered in the Year of the Rabbit.