Being Chinese : A New Zealander's Story
|Author:||Helene Har Lin Wong|
Three decades ago I began a quest - the search for my Chinese identity. My journey unravelled the personal, professional and historical threads in my life, and revealed how bound together they are by 'being Chinese'. But I am a New Zealander too. So this became a story not only about Chinese identity but also about the country I live in. I wanted to know how I could make a connection between these two places in my life, and thus find my place in the world. Helene Wong was born in New Zealand in 1949, to parents whose families had emigrated from China one or two generations earlier. Preferring invisibility, she grew up a young New Zealander. But in 1980 she travelled to her father's home village in southern China and came face-to-face with her ancestral past. What her Chinese heritage means to her gradually illuminates the book as it sheds new light on her own life. Helene Wong writes eloquently about her New Zealand childhood, about student life in the 1960s, and coming of age in Muldoon's New Zealand. Drawing on her experience with writing for New Zealand films, she takes the narrative forward through the places of her family's history - the village of Sha Tou in Jung Seng county, the rural town of Utiku where the Wongs ran a thriving business, the Lower Hutt suburbs of her childhood, Avalon and Naenae.