Wong Ah Poo Hoc Ting (later known as Appo Hocton) left China at the age of nine to become a ship's boy on an English vessel in the early 1800s. When the ship he was working on, the Thomas Harrison, docked in Nelson on May 26, 1842, he joined other crew members and jumped ship after some maltreatment on board. In doing so, he became the first Chinese immigrant to New Zealand and started the rich 175-year history of Chinese New Zealanders.
Being Chinese: A Photographic Journey features a combination of stories, art and images which tracks the history of Chinese in New Zealand, from Appo Hocton's arrival to the pioneering South Island gold miners to the Gock family who saved the kumara to contemporary works by Ant Sang (bro'Town ,The Dharma Punks) and writer Helene Wong (Being Chinese: A New Zealander's Story).
Being Chinese was curated by social historian Dr. Phoebe H. Li in collaboration with photographic historian John B Turner. "Through hard physical labour, self-sacrifice, determination and innovation, the Chinese, from the very beginning, have participated in and contributed to the building of New Zealand as a young modern nation," says Dr Li.