Wellington’s Historic Chinese Community

Chinese Language Week 2023

From vegetable shops to supermarkets, from import merchants to restaurants, and from miners to associations, Wellington’s Chinese history provides a unique perspective of the capital’s past.

Chinese Green Grocers

The Chinese Greengrocery of Wong Gar Sui, 1922. ATL Ref: 1/2-037502-G

The first Chinese arrived in New Zealand during the 1860s to work on the gold fields. From late 1800s these migrants moved to other occupations such as market gardeners, labourers, launderers and shopkeepers.  They became renowned as horticulturists because of their gardening skills which they combined with an expert knowledge of the lunar calendar. The first Chinese market garden was established in 1866 with vegetables being auctioned off to retailers or sold through roadside stalls.

NZ Chinese Growers, 1959.  Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

By 1940, Chinese growers produced over 70% percent of the country’s commercially grown vegetables and were major suppliers of fresh produce to troops during the Second World War. Ongoing success led to the Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers being established in Wellington in 1941 and soon after Dan Chan established The NZ Chinese Growers journal for the Federation. Originally a hand-calligraphed newsletter, in 1949 he switched to using a fully-fledged hand-set lead type set of over 7500 characters. The now-heritage Chinese typeface collection was later gifted by his family to the Wai-te-ata Press based at Victoria University who also established a Chinese Scholars Studio to house the type and created a residency in his name. 


Continue reading “Wellington’s Historic Chinese Community”

Chinese art at the library

Oriental art is not just about terracotta warriors, ancient collectables, brush painting and calligraphy, there are also famed contemporary Chinese artists. Our online resource DragonSource has about 3000 Chinese magazines covering a range of topics: including popular fashion, literature, music and film. There are also contemporary and traditional Chinese arts magazines.

How to read art magazines on DragonSource
  1. Login to DragonSource using your library card number and password
  2. Select the links beneath the magazines in this blog; then select the blue button to read
  3. You can also choose your own art magazines from Art magazines on DragonSource


Chinese art 中国美术             Chinese calligraphy 中国书法      Contemporary artists 当代美术家


Terracotta warriors : guardians of immortality
“This book marked the exhibition at Te Papa of the remarkable third century BC funerary statues excavated from the astounding archaeological site at Xi’an, China. The 200 especially selected pieces from the site have travelled to Wellington and then to Melbourne, for their first exhibition in Australasia for 30 years. This illustrated catalogue has images of all the objects in the exhibition as well as informative essays that explain the creation of the objects and their ongoing discovery.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The art of Chinese brush painting / Wang, Lucy
“Chinese brush painting is an ancient art form associated with grace, simplicity, and precision. This wonderful Artist’s Library Series can help you learn the secrets to painting in this classic, fluid style. Accomplished Chinese brush artist Lucy Wang covers the fundamentals of this painting medium, such as handling the brush and creating elegant strokes with art history. Then she guides you step by step through a series of painting lessons, from flowers and animals to a landscape and a traditional figure.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The Chinese art book
“This highly illustrated book is an accessible, innovative introduction to the art of China. An overview of Chinese art from its earliest dynasties to the contemporary generation of artists enlivening today’s art world. 300 works represent every form of Chinese visual art, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, figurines, jade, bronze, gold and silver, photography, video, installation, and performance art.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Things Chinese : antiques, crafts, collectibles / Knapp, Ronald G.
“Traditional Chinese objects are fascinating for the West and are long sought by collectors, from porcelains and finely detailed paintings, silk fabrics, and furniture to the lacquered or ebony-and-bone chopsticks. From painted cabinets and calligraphic scrolls to painted opera masks and moon cake moulds, and from Golden Lotus shoes , Mao memorabilia, mahjong sets and even kites.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Contradictions : artistic life, the socialist state, and the Chinese painter Li Huasheng / Silbergeld, Jerome
“Li Huasheng (b. 1944) represents the first generation of artists raised and trained in the People’s Republic of China. His career spans the painting of Maoist propaganda in the 1960s. Li has been driven by a fearless flair for drama that is expressed not only in his remarkable paintings of the Sichuan landscape but in a lifelong passion for Sichuan-style theatre. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

At work : twenty-five contemporary Chinese artists / Burris, Jon
“Documentary-style portraits of twenty-five of China’s most accomplished and fascinating artists at work.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)


Happy Lunar New Year: Stories of Chinese New Zealanders

Image saying Happy Lunar New Year


The Lunar New Year is a great time to learn more about the history of Chinese culture in Aotearoa. To start your journey, we’ve selected a few popular books about the lives of Chinese New Zealanders. The below booklist includes the legendary story of New Zealand’s largest Chinese art collection, the fascinating history of Chinese greengrocers in Aotearoa and work from Wellington’s local Chinese cartoonist, Ant Sang.

You can head to He Matapihi Molesworth Library (located within the National Library) to find these amazing books, and other fascinating reads from our New Zealand collection!

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year!

The fruits of our labours : Chinese fruit shops in New Zealand / Lam, Ruth
“Before supermarkets, local fruit and vegetable stores run by Chinese families were a pillar of our communities. The greengrocers’ personal anecdotes, historical documents and photos weaved into the country’s rich social and cultural tapestry. This book was written and researched by Ruth Lam, Beverly Lowe, Helen Wong, Michael Wong, and Carolyn King. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Turning stone into jade : the history of the New Zealand Chinese Association = Diao shi cheng bi / Fung, David
“The story of New Zealand Chinese Association, the oldest Chinese organisation in New Zealand. In its early incarnations, the association offered kinship and a united voice for an often marginalised and fragile minority. The work it has performed and its own struggles to maintain a relevant identity as political change ebbed and flowed in both Asia and New Zealand. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Looking for a better life … : the Chinese poll tax certificate records in Auckland / Wong Hop, David V.
“This book records the Chinese people who arrived in Auckland between 1882 and 1928; Chinese who came from different parts of China and travelled east to the Americas, or south to the Phillipines, Java and Australia. This book is published with support from Chinese New Zealand Oral History Foundation and many Chinese families. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Being Chinese : a New Zealander’s story / Wong, Helene
“Born in New Zealand in 1949, author travelled to southern China where her father was born, then she came face to face with ‘being Chinese’. Drawing on her experience of writing for New Zealand films, she takes the narrative forward through the places of her family’s history – the ancestral village in Zengcheng county, the rural town of Utiku where the Wongs ran a thriving business, and the Lower Hutt suburbs of her childhood.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

New China eye witness: Roger Duff, Rewi Alley and the art of museum diplomacy = Xin zhongguo de mu ji zhe: luojie · dafu, luyi · aili yu bo wu guan wai jiao / edited by James Beattie and Richard Bullen ; Chinese translation by Xiongbo Shi.
“In 1956, Through Alley’s contacts with premier Zhou Enlai and Duff’s diplomatic skills they shipped Chinese art to Canterbury Museum which made the largest Chinese art collection in New Zealand. (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony
“Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb before the opening, but the night takes the first of many unexpected turns when he is separated from his accomplice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Libby available in Chinese : 中文版的Libby

It is now possible to use OverDrive’s award-winning app, Libby, in Simplified and in Traditional Chinese. If you already use Simplified or Traditional Chinese with your device, Libby will automatically browse, search and display account information in that language now. By changing the default language on your device within the settings, you can then view Libby in your newly chosen language.
现在可以用简体或者繁体中文来使用Overdrive获奖的 app Libby了。 如果您的设备本来就使用简体或者繁体中文的话,Libby会自动使用该语言进行浏览, 搜索或者显示您的账户信息。通过在设置里修改默认语言, 您就可以在Libby上使用所选择的语言。

We also have an eBook collection in Chinese on the OverDrive platform. To access the collection in your browser, go to our Overdrive website (this is a slightly different, alternate option for accessing the Overdrive platform — an alternative to the Libby website). Under the menu across the top left click on ‘Collections’, and then on ‘Chinese’ under ‘Special’. You should end up here Chinese Collection on Overdrive . The same collection is available on the Libby app. To find it on Libby, click on ‘Library’, and then click on ‘Explore’ — it is listed under ‘Guide: Chinese’.
在 Overdrive 平台上,我们也有中文电子书。您可以使用浏览器在 https://wcl.overdrive.com 获取, 在菜单的左上方点击Collections 然后在“Special”下面点击“Chinese” ,您会看到https://wcl.overdrive.com/library/chinese 这个页面。Libby 上也有同样的书集。 途径是:点击“Library”, 然后点击“Explore”, 然后在“Guide: Chinese” 里面就能找到。

You can also read the OverDrive site in Simplified Chinese. Across the very top right of the page there is an arrow next to ‘English’. Click this to change the browsing language to Simplified Chinese.
您也可以在 Overdrive页面里用简体中文阅读。 在页面的最右上方,有一个箭头就在“English” 旁边, 点击该箭头把浏览语言改成简体中文即可。

Chinese Language Week Events at Wellington City Libraries, in Chinese


更有免费七巧板游戏领取哦!在中文周9月23-9月29日期间,可以向任何一个惠灵顿图书馆和社区中心的前台领取。 New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2018

舞蹈,武术,书法等表演。市中心图书馆底层。 9月29早上11:00-12:00 ,由新西兰中国文化中心和华夏文化艺术协会带来的精彩表演。


中文课,市中心图书馆中层汉语角。 9月29日中午 1:00-2:00点


音乐舞蹈音乐表演, 市中心图书馆底层。 9月 29日下午2:00-3:00 , 由惠灵顿中文学校带来精彩的乐团与舞蹈表演。

请由惠灵顿中文学校带来的充满活力的结合传统与现代的舞蹈和音乐表演 。


市中心图书馆: 9月27日星期四,上午 10:30-11:00点, 中文儿童讲故事时间

阅读中国流行杂志,用龙源杂志在线 DragonSource

欢迎使用龙源杂志。您可使用电脑或手机,随时随地的在线阅读最受欢迎的中文杂志了!例如,凤凰周刊,读者,三联生活周刊, 等等!

欢迎使用图书馆卡免费阅读最新的中国的中文报纸和杂志: PressReader and New York Times . 您还可下载或在线阅读中文电子书:Overdrive.


Chinese Arts at Wellington City Libraries

Dough artSugar peoplepaper cutting

Come and learn traditional Chinese handicrafts at the Central Library on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th of December! The events will be held from 10am  – 4pm on both days.

Five artists from northern China will demonstrate the traditional handicrafts that include sugar art, Manchu paper-cutting, Liaoning knot art, amber carving and dough modelling. This is organized by the China Cultural Centre in New Zealand.

Best of all, you can learn how to make some of the artwork and take it home!  Please ring 8014083 or email enquiries@wcl.govt.nz if you’d like to know more about these events.

– 6 Dec    10:00am-4:00pm,   Sugar art, dough modelling, and paper cutting

– 7 Dec    10:00pm- 4:00pm,    Sugar art, dough modelling, knot making, amber carving, and paper cutting