Push to restore tomb to honour heritage

Lawrence Chinese community descendant Adrienne Shaw, of Geraldine, is raising funds to restore...
Lawrence Chinese community descendant Adrienne Shaw, of Geraldine, is raising funds to restore the Sam Chew Lain tomb in Lawrence Chinese Cemetery. PHOTO: ADRIENNE SHAW/SUPPLIED
A descendant of Lawrence’s Gold Rush Chinese community hopes to restore a landmark tomb in the town.

Fifth-generation community descendant Adrienne Shaw, of Geraldine, has been planning the restoration of Sam Chew Lain’s tomb at the Lawrence Chinese Cemetery for the past 12 months.

On Wednesday, Ms Shaw submitted an email request to the Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board for an undefined funding contribution to the estimated $47,000 project.

The board resolved to invite Ms Shaw to present her case at its next meeting, on July 8.

Ms Shaw told the Otago Daily Times she had already raised $15,000 from funding bodies and private donations, and hoped other sources would view applications favourably.

‘‘We’ve completed a Conservation Heritage Report, and now we need funding to do fairly extensive work on the tomb’s roof, windows, door, and plasterwork. I’d like to see it completed next year for a special opening ceremony.’’

The Gothic tomb was designed by noted Otago architect John Burnside, and erected on Mr Lain’s death in 1903 for him and, later, wife Amelia.

‘‘The tomb has a unique design, and is the only one of its kind in New Zealand built for a Chinese man and his European wife.

‘‘[Mr Lain] was a hotelier and businessman, and helped bridge the divide between the local Chinese and European communities. He was a member of the Presbyterian congregation and Masonic lodge, and a benefactor for local projects such as the Tuapeka Hospital.

‘‘We’d like to repair the vandalism and deterioration of the past 120 years, and provide both a fitting tribute to a key Lawrence citizen and another historic attraction for Lawrence.’’

Heritage NZ is considering the tomb’s nomination as a Category 1 historic place.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

Comments

Good work Adrienne and a bonus for Lawrence.

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