Chinese Camp event set to go ahead

Restored tombstones at the Lawrence Chinese Cemetery await their unveiling, which will take place...
Restored tombstones at the Lawrence Chinese Cemetery await their unveiling, which will take place at a Lawrence Chinese Camp reunion during Labour Weekend. PHOTO: ADRIENNE SHAW/SUPPLIED
A first-of-its-kind reunion looks set to go ahead in Lawrence this Labour Weekend, despite earlier anxieties about potential Covid-19 restrictions.

Adrienne Shaw
Adrienne Shaw
Descendants of the Chinese Camp Reunion organiser Adrienne Shaw said she had spent a busy past few weeks putting the finishing touches on the two-day event, which will take place both in Dunedin and Lawrence tomorrow and Sunday.

The weekend will comprise a series of talks and unveilings honouring the Chinese participants in Lawrence’s mid-19th century gold rush era, their families and descendants.

About 90 descendants were expected to attend, in what would be the largest gathering of its type in the South, Ms Shaw said.

Most preparations had run smoothly, although there had been a few last-minute adjustments to make.

"We’ve installed a kiosk at the Lawrence Chinese Cemetery with information panels detailing the history of the cemetery and listing its occupants, to identify, acknowledge and honour them.

"We’ll also be formally unveiling the Sam Chew Lain Mausoleum Tomb. That needed a little work to straighten up one of its Gothic pinnacles, but it looks amazing now, and we’re very excited to see the conclusion of that project."

Restored tombstones would also be unveiled on Sunday, alongside a memorial marking the contributions of Chinese Anzacs, at the Chinese Camp itself, she said.

Day 1 of the event had been moved to Hope & Sons in Andersons Bay Rd, Dunedin from its original venue, Toitu, to accommodate Covid-19 crowd limits.

Day 2 would take place at the Lawrence Chinese Cemetery and Chinese Camp as planned.

Day 1’s programme would focus on a series of talks from experts and descendants and day 2 would be a mixture of talks, unveilings and a shared lunch.

"We’ve worked hard to track down as many descendants as we could. Unfortunately, those from Auckland have had to cancel.

"It’s going to be a unique, one-off chance to celebrate the area’s rich Chinese heritage."

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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