I was the eldest daughter born in Newmarket on 17 November 1934. I was born at home at 479 Khyber Pass Rd, where I lived until I was married. My mother died suddenly an hour after my fourth sister’s birth. My father married Chiu Su Ha in 1945 and I gained another sister, Meyun, and a brother James. Since High School days I helped in my father’s fruitshop.
After leaving school I attended Auckland University until I was accepted as a pharmacy apprentice with Arthur Kemp in Panmure. As I had passed some subjects at Auckland University I was allowed to sit the first professional exam after one instead of the usual two years, which meant I passed finals a year early. However I still had to finish the required four years of apprenticeship before I could become a registered pharmacist.
After registration I spent a year in different pharmacies doing relieving work before returning to Kemps where I worked until I married Jim Ng, a medical doctor from Ashburton in August 1960. We moved to Dunedin in 1961 where Jim worked at Dunedin Hospital before going into into medical research. We had three children, Denise (Yu Peng) in 1962, Stephen (Genn Jeung) 1963 and Jeffrey (Genn Wah) 1966. We have seven grandchildren whose parents live in Singapore, Hamilton (NZ) and Melbourne. In 1986 I was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
I’ve always had a passion for books and words and started writing seriously about 30 years ago. I’ve had three books published, one of which ‘Shadow Man’ was published by my sister Wailin. Another, ‘Chinatown Girl’ published by Scholastic was a finalist in the NZ Post Book Awards for 2005. I’ve also had articles and stories published in the NZ School Journal and written book reviews for the Otago Daily Times newspaper. Travel and photography have been other interests, which complement my on-going oral history project about NZ-born Chinese.
Ehlin Young second daughter of William Hing (Wong Gum Jook) of Newmarket, Auckland. Ehlin only left home when she married Bon Young of Westport on 29 February 1964. They bought a house in Remuera and shifted in at the end of 1965. They had 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys.
After Epsom Girls Grammar Ehlin attended the Auckland Business College. In the 1930s she was one of the first Chinese girls to work in an office in Auckland although she was still expected to help in the family fruit shop, Sing Lee, on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Chinese art and culture have always been one of Ehlin’s main interests along with her lifelong love of ballet. She is an Honorary Life Member of the Auckland Branch of the Friends of the Royal NZ Ballet after serving many years on their Committee.
After leaving school, fourth daughter Meilin went to work for Levenes Paint and Wallpaper shop in Karangahape Road and while there applied to go nursing (against her father’s wishes). She was accepted into the January 1962 intake and did her preliminary three months training at Middlemore Hospital before moving to Auckland Hospital where she completed her training, graduating in 1966. ‘ I had to help Father in the shop even on my days off,’ says Meilin., ‘and I didn’t get paid.’
In February 1968 she married Jack Chong (Ho) a market gardener who grew Hot House tomatoes. She returned to nursing until the births of her children, Martin in 1969, Raewyn in 1971, David in 1974 and Sarah in 1976. She helped out in the family business for many years up until they retired in 2006.
In 2000 she was elected a committee member of the Auckland Chinese Community Centre (ACCC) and also of the New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) Auckland Branch. She has been very active in both associations supporting a wide range of activities including making thousands of bao (buns) and dim sims for fundraising.
Meilin is the Manager of the ACCC complex in Taylor Road, Mangere Bridge and is responsible for the care and activities at the centre which include Basketball, Badminton, Volleyball and Ballroom Dancing. She also handles inquiries about hiring and usage of the hall. In 1979 she set up a social Badminton group using the hall on Thursday mornings which is still active today.
With the NZCA Auckland Branch she has been on the committee responsible for the organising and running of five national ‘Banana Conferences’. She was also on the committee that set up the Chinese Digital Library in conjunction with the Auckland City Library in 2010. The Chinese Digital Library was launched at the 2009 Banana Conference – Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas.
William Hing & Sing Lee Fruit Shop
“William Hing was an early immigrant to New Zealand (1919) and at a very young age, gifted with his business acumen, established the Sing Lee fruit shop business.
William Hing and Sing Lee became synonymous and history shows Sing Lee employed and partnered with many notable Zhongshan people.
This story is about the current Zhongshan descendants and serves as an introduction to the full article about William Hing and the Sing Lee business.”
William Hing or Wong Gum Jook from Ban Mei Yuen, Zhongshan was a remarkable business man and ran his fruit shop in Broadway, Newmarket from 1921 to 1969 – a period of nearly 50 years.
This is verified by his daughter Meilin Chong (nee Hing) who has provided information from the family archives in order to write the story of her father. The keeping of detailed records of William Hing’s business and financial transactions has enabled the writer Lily Lee to gain a deep insight into the affairs of one of Auckland’s earliest Zhongshan pioneers.
All five Hing girls Eva, Ehlin, Wailin, Meilin and Meyun worked in the shop from an early age, helping after school, weekends, in the school holidays; and youngest daughter Meyun worked full time in the shop in the 1960s.
Three of the daughters Eva, Ehlin and Meilin are members the the Auckland Zhongshan Clan Association and have regularly attended the functions over many years. Like their father William Hing, they too have led interesting lives:
We invite you to read the William Hing and Sing Lee Fruit Shop article by Lily Lee.
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