Stories of Men from the Jang Hing Fruitshop written by Lily Lee, 23 April 2016.

 

 

rita fong nee ho in the jan hing shopThe establishement and running of the Jang Hing Fruitshop involved a number of enterprising pioneer men from Zhongshan. Family history has been gathered by Lily Lee on four of the partners and told as part of the Jang Hing fruit shop story.

The early period of the 1930s was captured anecdotally through an interview with Noman Choy (Gock Yet Wai 郭日維) who was a school boy at the time. A snapshot of the fruit shop in the 1940s is given by Rita Fong, (Ho Bik Wun 何 碧 雲) daughter of Ho Chew Chong, who worked in the shop during the war years. In the 1950s Lynn Lum (Lum Yun Leen 林潤聯) describes working in the shop after school and in the school holidays.

The family stories are of: Ho Chew Chong (何兆昌) 1891-1974 born in Gum Kei, a partner in the Jang Hing Fruit shop 1933-1953; Lum Seh Chin (林社全) 1900-1987 born in Gum Kei, a partner 1936-1956; Kwok Lai Chuen 1896-1950 born in Jook So Yuen, a partner 1936-1939; and Goo Moo Chee (高戊子)1887 -1975 born in Liu Hou (寮後), a partner 1939-1943.

ho chew chong 1930lum seh chin 1920goo moo chee 1949kwok lai chuen 1930

this photo was taken in 1929 before jang hing moved

Jang Hing Fruit Shop at 191 Broadway 1933 to 1936

The Jang Hing (振興 ‘go forward and expand’) shop, at 191 Broadway, was a fruit shop previously operated by a C. Panchia.1 In 1933 Jang Hing was one of six fruit shops in Broadway trying to make ends meet after the Great Depression of 1929.

Ho Chew Chong (何兆昌) from Gum Kei, Zhong Shan was the principal partner in the Jang Hing fruit shop for 20 years from 1933 to 1953. His first partner,Gock Chung Wah, aka Chung Wah from Jook So Yuen竹秀圓, Zhongshan had lived in Auckland since 1920.2 He was a partner until 1936.

In an interview in 2007 with Lily Lee, Norman Choy (Gock Yet Wai郭日維), who arrived as a 13 year old student in 1930 provided anecdotes of life with the two men, Ho Chew Chong and Chung Wah of Jang Hing fruit shop.

Living in a vege shed at the back of the shop:

Ho Chew Chong’s nick name was ‘gou lol Cherng’ (tall man Chong) because he was so tall. I was a school boy and I lived with him and Chung Wah for a year in the back of the shop in 1933 to 1934. The shed had three single beds - one in each corner. Your dad and Chung Wah took turns to cook. I used to help stack the fruit and vegetables and serve customers when I had some spare time - but I never got paid for it. But I got sixpence to go to the pictures at the Rialto theatre once or twice a week.’ 3

Norman Choy makes observations about Ho Chew Chong: Your dad was very tidy. He was a very tidy dresser. He did the ironing. He did the sewing too. Your dad was a very good tailor. He made his own pants and he made his own coat and all that. He was very handy.

He liked a little flutter. He would go to Greys Avenue for a little gamble. He’d come back in a good mood when he win and a bad mood when he lose.

Norman Choy talks about their sharing together:

We got not bad feelings against one another. We all were strangers. As time goes on you get friendly. You make friends as you go that’s all. They can’t talk much English. We welcome one another, we were friendly all right. But not talk business. Just greet each other. Being a young man I had not much to talk about – no experience. I got no business head those days.

Jang Hing’s hours of business were from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday (with a late closing on Friday night) and from 8 am to noon on Saturday. Norman Choy reflects on the Great Depression period:

Years of struggle:

You know Wong Tong? Willie Tong? He married a white lady. He worked a shop with Wah Hing, well that shop closed. It was five doors up from Sing Lee - No 222 near Self Help.4 One day I went to play football for school in Hamilton and when I came back the shop was closed. Radley closed them up because they couldn’t afford to pay for the goods.

I met Bruce and Alec Ah Chee -they spoke English. They had a shop in the corner of the railway station there. But in the end they got out of it. There’s no business, they can’t afford it.5

They were hard years. Yes, hard years. There were quite a few shops - so can’t do too much. Those days people were only getting three or four pounds a week and rent was probably three to five pounds. They can’t make money. They just exist- that’s all.

Moving on:

Of Ho Chew Chong Norman Choy said, ‘Your dad was a toiler. But he managed where other people collapsed you know’. Norman’s comment about Ho Chew Chong was in keeping with his character. ‘He was a plodder- he did not give up.’ The fruit shop moved on to another phase - a change in partners and a change in shops. A move to 177 Broadway and for Ho Chew Chong, hopefully more business in hard times.

Jang Hing Fruit Shop at 177 Broadway 1936-1956

The business moved from 191 Broadway seven doors down to a new shop at 177 Broadway. The new Jang Hing was now operating next door to the Bon Accord cake shop, the fish shop, an AMC (Auckland Meat Company) butcher shop and then the candy shop at the entrance to the Rialto theatre.

The new shop had no accommodation so Ho Chew Chong moved in to live with four or five Zhongshan men at a house at 408 Khyber Pass Road and Kingdon Street. He had an old red Ford truck which was used to carry produce purchased from the city markets.

Ho Chew Chong invited Kwok Lai Chuen, newly returned from China, and Lum Chin, a close kinsman and good friend from the same village of Gum Kei to join the business.

When Kwok Lai Chuen left to run a shop in Coromandel in 1939 he sold his share to Goo Moo Chee from Lew Hou, a first cousin to Ho Chew Chong. Goo Moo Chee and Lum Chin looked after the shop while Chew Chong continued to purchase produce from the city markets.

from left ho chew chong lum chin and unknow 1920

After four to five years of working in the shop Goo Moo Chee, a quiet man, decided to leave and Rita (Ho Bik Wun 何碧雲) daughter of Ho Chew Chong, aged 16 was asked to work in the shop. In 1942 the family had moved to 7 Osborne Street right next door to the Rialto theatre and across the road from the Kent’s bakeries.

Daughter Rita works in the shop in the 1940s

Rita talks about her time in the shop during the war years and just after the war6:

rita in back yard of shopI had no choice, Mum said I had to work in the shop as Moo Gee ‘sook’ (uncle) was leaving. It was during the war. She was always worried about me walking around in the streets. She was frightened that the American soldiers would harm me. But there were only a few that came to our shop and only a few walking around Newmarket.’

I would get to the shop at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning and prepare the vegetables, wash the carrots, parsnips and turnips, sort the potatoes and put the spring onions in bunches. I would do this before Lum Chin arrived to open the doors. I would cook some rice on a small gas stove and I would steam egg custard ’dun gai darn’ for breakfast. We went home for our dinner except Friday nights as we opened late.

Lily Lee recalls going to her father’s shop on her way to school: ‘I was probably round six years old and I must have been instructed by mum to call in to the shop to pick up some lunch for school. I remember Rita making me tomato sandwiches using white bread and wrapping them up in newspaper - unheard of today! I distinctly remember it as it happened to be pink paper which was used for the front and back cover of the Weekly News7 at that time.’

‘I also remember Dad bringing home strawberries which were past their best and Mum sending me down the road in the dark to buy ice-cream (to go with the strawberries) at the ‘New American Milk Bar’ on the corner of Teed Street and Broadway.’

Rita’s memories of the most popular vegetables were lettuce and tomatoes for salads and the most popular fruit were apples such as Delicious, Golden Delicious and Cox’s Orange. Sturmer and Granny Smith were in demand for cooking. Different varieties of pears like Winter Nellis and Winter Cole and cooking pears were popular. The bananas all came from Fiji and the shop had a small wooden room to ripen their bananas – it took 10 boxes at a time.

In summertime we have Golden Queen peaches and the white flesh ones, and apricots and cherries. The grapes were very expensive – I think from America - and customers would only buy a bunch for something special or to take to someone in hospital. At lunchtime some young workers would come in and buy one fruit -maybe a pear or an apple.

customers renee and owen pringle 1950Dad was very friendly. He would deliver vegetables to houses nearby on his red Bedford truck. One of the customers knew dad and invited me to have dinner and taught me how to use a knife and fork. The mother had two unmarried children living with her. They were Owen and Renee Pringle. They lived opposite us in Khyber Pass. I enjoyed going to their house. They had a lovely garden and camellia trees with pink flowers. We kept in touch for over 30 years.

Rita stopped working in the shop at the end of 1946 when she married Fong Sing Chong (born in Dun Tou敦陶村, Zhongshan), who had been working for some time in Fiji. ‘Mum thought it was better to return to Hong Kong to do business as she thought the whole family would return to China in due course,’ said Rita. In April 1947, Rita and her husband left New Zealand to start a new life in post-war Hong Kong. In Shamshuipo, Sing Chong with another Fong kinsman started the Q Kong Knitting Factory.

rita and shing chong in hong kongapartments in fuk wah street shamshuipo 1950

Changes in the 1950s

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Jang Hing employed other workers to help in the shop. michael fong outside 7 osborne street 1940Some were students who came to New Zealand to study, such as brothers Paul and Roy Wong who became doctors and Michael Fong (Fong Gee Mun) who moved back to do business in Fiji and is now retired in Sydney. All spent time helping in the shop and socialising with the Zhongshan families in Newmarket.

Ho Chew Chong continued to buy fruit and vegetables at the markets and Lum Chin continued serving in the shop. ‘I remember Dad taking us kids with him to market,’ says Jack Chong. ‘He would take us in his old red truck. It had no doors and I remember falling out of it once. He also used the truck for deliveries. on the farmers trading company children rooftop playroung 1947After market he would take us up to the top of Farmers in Hobson Street where there was a children’s playground and tearooms. We had shepherd’s pie or a sausage roll and a sandwich - that was a real treat for us.’8

In 1949 Ho Chew Chong’s wife, Ho Sue Shee and family moved to Mangere to continue the lease of a six acre market garden in 90 Hall Avenue previously worked by Lum Seh Jiu. Ho Chew Chong would travel by tram to Onehunga and taxi to Mangere to spend part of each weekend with the family.

In 1953 Ho Chew Chong decided to leave the partnership and join his family at their new address at 66 Walmsley Road where they built a roadside store in front of their house. Ho Chew Chong bought a new Bedford truck and continued his routine of going to market to purchase produce while the children helped after school and in the holidays.

Lum Chin Takes over Jang Hing

lynn lum 2016Lum Chin took full responsibility for Jang Hing and ran the business with the help of Goo Moo Chee and Lum Mow Ling who went to market in his own truck. 9 Lum Chin faithfully served customers in the Jang Hing fruit shop for a lengthy period of time without any breaks, Lynn Lum said:

We had regular customers but there was not much passing traffic- my father was known by his customers as Bill. There were too many fruit shops – at least four shops all the time for years– just in Broadway. The shop did not make a lot of profit - we just made a living.

Sometimes the customers looked down on us, we were like second class citizens. I was referred to not by my name but as Billy boy. Some customers used to say ‘what’s that stink? Your shop stinks? And it was only the smell of peanut oil being used for cooking!’

Lynn Lum recalls the work in the shop as a school boy in the 1950s:

It was an interesting life. I was serving by the time I was 6 or 7. I worked in the shop on Friday nights, Saturdays and school holidays unless I went to Lum Dai Lowe’s market garden in Pukekohe for a few weeks. We had our meals on our kitchen table which was always apple boxes covered in newspaper.

I had to clean all the root crops; wash the beetroot with a stick in the tub and remove the soil from around the potatoes. I’d sort out the ripe and green fruit, unwrap all the fruit that came with waxed paper wrapping around it then put them all into onion sacks - that became our toilet paper- I bet I had the smoothest backside around Newmarket!

I would cook the beetroot, roast the peanuts in the back yard and serve in the shop. Children these days get it too easy.

But I was well paid for what I did, ten shillings (half a quid or half a pound) every Saturday! So it was off to the matinee movies at Newmarket with a few friends. Three pence seats and Sherbet dabs and ice cream at half time - my treat!10

When the owners, who had the Bon Accord cake shop next door, wanted to extend their business, they did not renew the tenancy agreement and Jang Hing closed its doors in 1956.

Following the close of the shop Lum Chin moved out of 2 York Street, Newmarket where he had lived for many years and purchased a house at 12 Victoria Street, Onehunga. This was the beginning of a new chapter in his life.

MEN FROM THE JANG HING FRUIT SHOP

The following are family stories of four of the Zhongshan men who were involved in Jang Hing Fruit shop:

  1. Ho Chew Chong from Gum Kei - Jang Hing Fruit shop 1933-1953
  2. Lum Seh Chin from Gum Kei - Jang Hing Fruit shop 1936-1956
  3. Goo Moo Chee from Liu Hou - Jang Hing Fruit Shop 1939-1943
  4. Kwok Lai Chuen from Jook So Yuen - Jang Hing Fruit shop 1936-1939

Ho Chew Chong 何兆昌 1891-1974

ho chew chong 1930Ho Chew Chong 11(何兆昌) born in 1890 was involved in the Jang Hing business for a period of 20 years. Ho Chew Chong was the principal partner in the Jang Hing fruit shop at 191 Broadway – 1933 to 1936 and at 177 Broadway 1936 to 1953.

Early Family history

Ho Chew Chong (also known as Choi Tin and Chong Ho) was from Gum Kei (今溪) (previously known as Gum Kok Wan), Zhongshan, Guangdong. Ho Chew Chong’s first known ancestor Puk Kieu originated from Gee Kei Lane in Nam Hong County in northern Guangdong over 400 years ago.

The place where Puk Kieu lived was a secluded settlement deep in the mountains of Guangdong. The mountainous terrain provided poor soil leading to poor food production. It was also a war torn area and suffered repeated famines. These harsh conditions forced Puk Kieu to leave around 1590 and settle near Sek Kei, the home of ‘fish and rice’. 12

Puk Kieu settled in Cheong Kei village north of Sek Kei and raised five sons. It was his second son who moved to the neighbouring village of Kei Bin. The Ho forefathers lived in Kei Bin for eleven generations.

Ho Chew Chong’s grandfather Ho Ngok Wah was born in 1821 in Kei Bin village. He worked as a hawker making his living travelling between several neighbouring villages. At a young age he married the daughter of a Lum from a farming family in Sha Tin(沙田). They had a daughter ‘Dai Mui’ born in 1850 and a son Ho Ying Wor 何英和 (aka Ho Kay 何溪) born in 1852.

Unfortunately Ho Ngok Wah died at the early age of 34 when Ho Chew Chong’s father Ho Ying Wor was three years old. Ho Ying Wor’s mother decided to take the children back to her Lum village of Sha Tin. A few years later she moved her family to the neighbouring village of Gum Kei where she saw opportunities to cultivate the land.

Her daughter ‘Dai Mui’ was married to Goo Charn Duk from Liu Hou. They had three sons and one daughter. The third son Goo Moo Chee (first cousin of Ho Chew Chong) came to New Zealand in 1920 and was a partner in the Jang Hing fruit shop (refer to story of Goo Moo Chee below).

Ho Ying Wor and his three sons

ho cheung she 1920Ho Ying Wor (何英和) was married to Cheung She (張氏) from Ho San, a mountain village and hour’s walk away from Gum Kei. Ho Ying Wor and Cheung She had three sons13: Ho Chew Sum (何兆深) (Choi Fook 彩 富), born in 1885, Ho Chew Cheung (何兆祥) (Choi Sou 彩 秀), born in 1889, and Ho Chew Chong (何兆昌) (Choi Tin), born in 1891.

Ho Ying Wor toiled hard in the fields but had heard that he could earn a better living for the family overseas in ‘sun gum sarn’. In his forties and assisted by kinsman, Ho Ying Wor left to try his luck in Sydney in the early 1890s. He worked as a partner in a market garden in Botany. He worked hard for a number of years sending money home to the family.

Unfortunately he began to suffer ill health and he brought out his second son Ho Chew Cheung (aged 16) in 1905 to take his place in the garden. Ho Ying Wor then returned to China and after a prolonged illness died at the age of 56 in 1908.

Ho Chew Cheung carried on the business in Sydney and eventually established his own market garden in Tenterden Road, Botany under Ah Sow & Co. He provided well for his family in China and built a diu Lou for his eldest son Ho Young Hoy. Apart from trips home to his wife Li Goo Lau from Liu Hou village (whom he married in 1911) he remained in Sydney eventually bringing out his wife and his family of seven children. He died in 1967. In 1993 his younger son Ho Young Dai (何容棣), recorded ‘The Ho Family Tree’. ho ying wor grave in gum kei 1963It was handwritten by Ho Young Dai in Chinese and has been translated into English. It has become a valuable resource for the Ho clan who now live in China, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Fiji and New Zealand.

About 1908 Ho Ying Wor’s eldest son Ho Chew Sun left for Vancouver, Canada and worked in the grocery trade on Victoria Island. His first wife died in 1934 leaving two boys.14 In 1935 Ho Chew Sun married a second wife, Louie Siu Yee from Do Tou (渡頭). They had one son Roger Ho (Ho Seh Wah) who later joined his uncle (Ho Chew Cheung) and settled in Sydney.15 Ho Chew Sun never returned to China but remained there until his death in 1952. His son Ho Mook Young took over the grocery business until his death in 1977.

young market selling fruit and vegetables 1950ho mook young inside his shop 1950

Ho Chew Chong comes to New Zealand

ho chew chong aged 33 1922Youngest son Ho Chew Chong, left China with funds sent home from his two brothers, one in Sydney and the other in Vancouver. He married Lowe Tai Moi (劉大妹) of Woo Jow Gerk (胡洲腳) and his daughter Ho Wun Ying (何云英) was born in 1915. It is uncertain when Ho Chew Chong left China for overseas. Stories heard from childhood were ‘about Ho Chew Chong hiding from authorities on his brother’s market garden in Botany Bay and stowing away in a ship from Sydney to Suva.’16 He may have spent some time in Fiji with close kinsmen.

An entry permit was issued for Ho Chew Chong on 17 February 1922 and he arrived in Auckland from Suva on board the Navua on 22 April 1922 aged 31. It is said that he worked at menial jobs in boarding houses in the city for some time.

Family happenings in China

About 1924 in sad circumstances Ho Chew Chong’s first wife Lowe Tai Moi had to leave the Ho household and return to her own village leaving her daughter Wun Ying behind to be cared for by the aunties and grandmother.

In 1926 another wife, Sue Shee17, was found from the neighbouring village of Nam Mun (南文) across the river from Gum Kei. Her family were poor and her widowed mother (a Lum from On Tong (横東)) worked at domestic duties for other households.
Ho Sue Shee born 24 February 1901 was past the eligible age of marriage18 but her older sister who married a Cho (曺) from Gum Kei persuaded her that a man from ‘gum san’ would provide her with some regular remittances from overseas. The Ho household knew she was practical and could sew and would be ideal to look after Wun Ying. Sue Shee felt she had little choice even though she had heard that two sisters should not marry men from the same village as it might bring bad luck. A date was set for a ‘rooster marriage’ ( a substitute symbol for the absent husband) and she was taken by rickshaw to husband’s household and thereafter served her husband’s family. the 1927 wedding panels of ho chew chong and sue sheeIt was ten months after the ‘rooster marriage’ on 24 April 1927 before Ho Chew Chong returned home to meet his new wife.

Ho Chew Chong was 36 years of age and Sue Shee was 24 years old. Chew Chong returned to New Zealand a year later in 9 April 1928. Two panels containing a Chinese couplet of an auspicious blessing 此曰來儀 and 吉夢為熊19( that the bride will get pregnant soon) was placed in the main room. Their daughter Rita (Ho Bik Wun 何碧雲) was born on 21 June 1928. But she was not to see her father until she was 11 years old.

outside the front doors of ho chew chong house 1962It was only once a year that Ho Chew Chong found a few pounds to send home.20 Sue Shee earned extra income by raising pigs and growing vegetables. ‘He didn’t get much money from the shop, he had to pay rent for his share of the house and he would spend money betting on the horses’, said Ho Sue Shee. I took the ‘night soil’ to be emptied onto the vegetable fields. I went up to the hills to gather dry twigs and grass for fuel. I sewed clothes for other people, and I did chores for ‘ngee bark moo’ [second sister-in-law] who had bound feet.21

The eldest daughter Ho Wun Ying was married off when she was sixteen to a returning ‘gum sarn hark’ Louie Moon Genn from the village of Do Tou (渡頭).22 Ho Sue Shee and her daughter continued living in the village until the Japanese invasion of Southern China in 1938.

outside rear of disused family house in 2005 where ho sue shee lived 1920

Bringing wife and daughter to New Zealand

In 1938-1939 the Japanese war had moved to Guangdong province. The army swept through the villages and Ho Sue She and her daughter escaped by road to Macao and then by ferry to Hong Kong. While staying with relatives there they heard that Ho Chew Chong had purchased tickets and papers for them to come to New Zealand.23 Although Ho Chew Chong did not have sufficient funds for the tickets and bond Kwok Lai Chuen, his partner in Jang Hing had encouraged him to apply and helped him with a loan. Also one hundred pounds was lent by Jack Turner of Turners and Growers, fifty pounds from Produce Markets, and Go Hong Mook who worked at the Golden Dragon Café lent ten pounds.

The Journey by ship

Ho Sue Shee and Rita (Ho Bik Wun) left Hong Kong in October 1939. The journey on the Taiping took three weeks and they met other women and children bound for Auckland. They were very excited about going under the new Sydney Harbour Bridge. They stopped in Sydney at the King Nam Jang boarding house in 85 George Street (now the Rocks area of Sydney) for four days. While there they visited Uncle Ho Chew Cheung’s 10 acre market garden at Tenterden Road, Botany Bay which they had leased from the chemical company Laport. Rita said the house where they had a meal was ‘very primitive’. The vessel to New Zealand was the SS Aorangi and arrived after three days at the port of Auckland on 27 November 1939.

Life in Newmarket

Ho Sue Shee settled with her husband and Rita in the house on the corner of Kingdon Street and 408 Khyber Pass Road in Newmarket where other Zhongshan men lived. In 1942 they moved to 7 Osborne Street next to the back of the Rialto theatre.

looking from khyber pass road to osborne street 1929

She gave birth at home to four children in Newmarket: Lily (Ho Bik Har 何碧霞 aka as Ho Li Li 何莉莉) born in 1940, Jack (Ho Jick Kie 何澤旗) born in 1942, Ray (Ho Jick Wai 何澤輝) born in 1944 and Mary (Ho Shou Ee 何俏瑜) born in 1947. Lily and Jack in the house in Kingdon Street and Ray and Mary in the house in Osborne Street. lily jack ray and baby mary 1948A midwife attended their births and the family doctor was Alice Horsley – well known pioneer woman doctor. Lily and Jack attended Newmarket kindergarten and Newmarket Primary school. The family were known as the Chongs.

Rita started learning English at St Michael’s Catholic School in Remuera where she remained for a year or two. Then she was sent out to work in Heards candy factory wrapping lollies. In 1944 she worked in her father’s Jang Hing fruit shop for three years. Mrs Ho Sue Shee was keen to find a husband for Rita. Ho Chew Chong’s nephew Ho Young Hoy introduced the family to a young man Fong Sing Chong from Fiji, who was originally from Dun Tou village in Zhongshan. They became engaged and were married in St David’s Presbyterian Church in Khyber Pass on 8 November 1946. Because Rita and her husband did not have permanent residence they left New Zealand in April 1947 to live in Hong Kong.

seated ho chew chong and ho sue shee 1947

The family move from Newmarket

In November 1949 Ho Sue Shee decided to take up market gardening under the name Chong Ho and moved to 90 Hall Avenue, Mangere with the four children,24 leaving Ho Chew Chong to continue working the Jang Hing fruit shop. He remained a partner until 1953 when Lum Chin took over the business.

In 1954 the Chong family bought a house and three acres at 66 Walmsley Road, Mangere and established a roadside shop at the front of their house.

Ho Chew Chong continued to work and buy fruit and veges at the city markets for the roadside store which was known as the Chong Ho Walmsley Road Fruit shop. He continued working full time until his sons Jack and Ray left school and were old enough to run the business. Jack ran the market garden and built glasshouses helped by Ho Sue Shee while Ray took over the shop with Ho Chew Chong helping with the sorting and packing of vegetables behind the scenes.

Ho Chew Chong died in 1 April 1974 and Ho Sue Shee died 29 August 1992. They are buried alongside each other in the Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

ray chong son of ho chew chong 1960

Lum Seh Chin 林社全 1900-1987

Family backgound

lum seh chin 1920Lum Seh Chin25 (林社全) aka Lum Chin came from the village of Gum Kei (金溪) in Zhongshan County. Lum Chin’s father was Lum Mun Bark and his mother was a Sue from Nam Mun (南文) village across the river from Gum Kei. lum mun bark aged 55Lum Mun Bark had made his fortune in the goldfields of Australia. He then returned home to enjoy his wealth. He bought four houses -one with a dui lau (a tower) and 500 mou26 of land – a huge acreage in those days. He also became a major shareholder in the Wing On company and held shares in a factory preserving Chan Pei Mui (陳皮梅), a traditional Chinese candy.

Lum Chin’s parents had six children: the eldest was a girl; Lum Seh Chin (林社全) was the eldest son; the second son, Lum Seh Gum (林社金),27 went to Peru and married a local Peruvian girl and settled in Peru; the second daughter Lum Seh Leen (林社蓮) married a Fong from ‘ngee kui’ (second district); the third son Lum Seh Leong (林社良) remained at home and continued the family business28 and the fourth son Lum Seh Ung (林社英) left for Hong Kong during the Japanese war and afterwards lost touch with the family. There was another daughter but her name is not known.

Lum Chin, born in 1900 was the only one of his family to come to New Zealand. Lum Chin had two children to his wife, a Louie from Doo Tou (渡頭) village:

Lum Chin’s daughter Lum Oun Fong (林煥芳) was born in 1918 and married a Dai from ‘ngee kui’. She was widowed early and she moved to live in Hong Kong in 1949. Her two sons live in Hong Kong and her daughter lives in England. She lived to the ripe old age of 97. She died in 2013.

Lum Yun Kum (林潤欽) also known as Jimmy Lum was born in April 1926. As a young man, on 12 December 1948, he migrated to Lautoka, Fiji, sponsored by the Chow Kou family of Gum Kei. He worked as a refrigeration engineer at McAlpines and in the gold mining industry. At one time he also worked for a company owned by Jilnaught Wong’s father.29

Lum Chin became friendly with Richie Macdonald the Labour Member of Parliament for Ponsonby (1941-1963). Richie Macdonald had worked at the railway workshops and became the union secretary. Lum Chin sought his assistance and was successful in gaining permission for Jimmy Lum to come to New Zealand in 1957.

Lum Chin - Early years in New Zealand

Norman Choy mentions Lum Chin working at Ah Chee fruit shop in Queen Street when Norman first arrived in 1930. Norman Choy also stayed with Lum Chin who lived at 2 York Street after he left the shed at the back of 191 Broadway in 1935 or 1936.30 Lynn Lum, youngest son of Lum Chin, talked about his father’s early years:31

Dad told me that his early years here were very, very tough - he was a hawker of veges, eking out a living. He was a hawker down in the Hawke’s Bay before or after the Napier earthquake in 1931. I’m not sure how long he stayed down there.

I know he was working at Ah Chee’s fruit shop in No.1 Queen Street in 1930 and in exchange for wages he got free board and keep. He was given ‘share certificates’ but I don’t think they were worth anything.

In the early 1930s Lum Chin was probably living in 2 York Street, Newmarket with several other Zhongshan men. In 1936 his good friend Ho Chew Chong from the same village invited him to be a partner of the Jang Hing Fruitshop at 177 Broadway. Lum Chin remained there serving customers from 1936 to 1956.

In 1939 Lum Chin married Agnes Maud Jury, a woman of Maori-Irish descent from a small place on the Hauraki Plains. They had two sons: Douglas Choy Lum (Lum Yun Duc 林潤德) who was born on 27 August 1941, and Lynn Seh Lum (Lum Yun Leen 林潤聯) who was born on 3 April, 1943. Agnes Jury and Lum Chin separated in 1945.

in the late 1930 to the 1950 lum chin and his family 1929

Living in York Street in the 1940s and 1950s

When Agnes left, Lum Chin engaged a housekeeper, Thelma Cunnold, to look after Lynn who was two years old and ‘Doug’ who was four years old. Lynn says:

She was fondly known as ‘Aunty Thelma’. She lived close by in Short Street and had two girls of her own. She also had a daytime job at the Johnson and Johnson factory in Teed Street. She would come in to make our breakfast and look after us when I was at kindergarten. When Doug and I started school she would make our lunches and see us off to school. After school she would cook our dinner. We didn’t like the way she cooked our food– spuds and pumpkin and all that. She made us take a teaspoon of Lanes Emulsion and cod liver oil every morning. Unbelievable!32

Lynn describes Aunty Thelma as motherly type. ‘She was quite a big woman and all that. She was kind but she could also be firm.’

standing in entrance way 1947

Lynn said he missed having a parent involved in school activities like the other children whose parents came to watch sports. However, during the weekend the boys were looked after by their father who certainly spent a lot of time with them:

On Sunday Dad took us to Rev Chau’s Sunday School in Cook Street with other kids like Billy Fong, Lily and Jack Chong. I also went to the Vincent Street Sunday school and the one when Rev Chau moved to a room in the block of shops in Queen Street near Myers Park. We’d pile into Dad’s big, shiny black 1938 Chevy and off we went. We would take off from Sunday school and buy popsicles –we were ‘tearaways’ – me, Billy Fong and Jack Chong. On our way home Dad would buy us an ice-cream. Sometimes we would go to the Tepid Baths for a swim and stop at the ’White Lady’ in Shortland Street for a saveloy.

When Lynn was about 12 or 13 he recalls attending for several years with his brother Jimmy, the Mun Fah Sere Wui (社會) in the basement of the Thomas Doo building in Hobson Street:

It was like the Young Red Guard group. They were a group of young men born in China, and they worked in the market gardens or Chinese cafes. They held Mandarin classes. I learnt to sing the Chinese National Anthem.’

Lum Chin would also take the boys out to visit Zhongshan friends in Mangere, such as Sue Hing, George Wah and King Yin Wong.

Banquets in the back yard

Having Zhongshan kinsmen staying over was common and holding Chinese-style banquets over many years in their back yard at York Street were all part and parcel of Lynn’s childhood memories:

Dad was very generous, we had lots of visitors as well as Chinese students staying with us from Fiji. He would invite all the single Chinese men in Newmarket to come over for dinner. Lum Cheung was a very close neighbour. He lived in a shed in our backyard!

There were two dwellings directly across the road. In one house lived Lum Mow Tong (林茂棠). He was a tall, fine looking gentleman who played the Chinese ‘kum’ (zither).33 Lum Mow Tong moved to a house in Mt Eden when his wife arrived about 1950.

Next to Lum Mow Tong was a one storeyed old corrugated structure where two old men lived. I don’t know their names. One day they were making Chinese home brew or ‘yok jou’ in huge glass jars when they showed me two pink unborn mice with bulging eyes which they then dropped into the brandy. I freaked out and never went back there again.

On the corner of Kingdon Street lived Lum Kwun who was the chef-owner of the Chungking Café. He cooked for lots of birthday and wedding banquets through the years. He later shifted to Onehunga and retired there. Lum Kwun died 21 October 1989, aged 80 and is buried in the Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

A number of men lived in several houses in Osborne Street. One I remember was Lum Mow Ling (a brother to Lum Kwun) – he went back to China in the 1950s. Evidently his son was a general in the Communist army so Lum Mow Ling went home to be with him and his family. We never heard from him again.

Lum Chin leaves Newmarket

In 1956 Lum Chin, after 20 years in the shop - and even longer living at 2 York Street, moved out of Newmarket and purchased a house at 12 Victoria Street, Onehunga to begin a new chapter of his life: He started work as a skilled labourer and tradesman’s assistant at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops. As he was good at speaking English, he was often called upon to translate and interpret for other non-English speaking Chinese. In 1970s after a life-time of hard work Lum Chin was finally able to go to Hong Kong to visit his daughter.

A pioneer of the first generation Lum Chin died 16 March 1987 at the great old age of 87. He is buried at the Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

Goo Moo Chee高戊子1887 -1975

goo moo chee 1949Goo Moo Chee (高戊子) was born in 7 November 1887 in Liu Hou (寮後) village, Zhongshan, the third child of Goo Charn Duk and Ho Dai Mui. Goo Moo Chee was first cousin on his maternal side to Ho Chew Chong. Goo Moo Gee’s mother Ho Dai Mui was born in 1850 in the neighbouring village of Sha Tin (沙田). Her younger brother Ho Ying Wor (Ah Kei) born 1852 was father of Ho Chew Chong.

Goo Moo Chee married his first wife Charn Liew from Lung Ngarn Chew Gen village, an hour’s walk from Liu Hou. They had two sons. There was an older brother; and an older sister who married into the Ma family of Harng Mei. The fourth son was Goo Jun. Little is known about his brothers and sister.

Of slight build and five foot two inches in height, Goo Moo Chee left China in 1917 at the age of 20 to work in Fiji. After several years, he decided to come to New Zealand arriving on the Niagara from Suva, on 21 April 1920, aged 30.

Settling in New Zealand

Little is known of his early years in Auckland except that he went back to China in 1925 and returned to Auckland in 1927.

In the 1930s he lived with the Zhongshan men, Lum Chin and others at 2 York Street. Goo Moo Chee went home on a second trip to China returning on 3 October 1939 when he lived in the house on the corner of 408 Khyber Pass Road and Kingdon Street with Ho Chew Chong, his wife and daughter and other ‘bachelor’ men until the early 1940s.

looking along kington street from khyber pass road 1929

Goo Moo Chee worked as a partner with Ho Chew Chong in Jang Hing from October 1939 to 4 June 1943. Goo Moo Chee and Lum Chin looked after the shop while Ho Chew Chong purchased the produce from the city markets.

By then he had moved to another house used by Zhongshan men in 3 Osborne Street. On 4 June 1943 Goo Moo Chee left the partnership to work for Hardies Ltd, Penrose until 1946.

After another trip to China, arriving back on 1 December 1949, Goo Moo Chee worked for some years as a gardener before being employed by Lum Chin to work in the Jang Hing shop again. He worked there until February 1955.

Goo Moo Lum arrives in 1955

goo moo chee and goo moo lum and child 1970In that same year (1955) Goo Moo Chee brought his second wife, Goo Moo Lum (高戊林) (Lum Ah Tai)34 born in Sha Tin沙田in 1917 to New Zealand. Goo Moo Lum is closely related to Lum Chin. Lynn Lum recalls Goo Moo Chee and Goo Moo Lum staying with them when she first arrived in New Zealand and then later travelling back to China with Goo Moo Lum in more recent years. Goo Moo Chee and Goo Moo Lum lived together contentedly in Auckland until Goo Moo Chee died at the age of 85 in 1975.

jack chong mrs goo moo lum and lily lee 2015On 18 June 2015 Lily Lee and brother Jack Chong visited Goo Moo Lum to find out more about their dad’s first cousin Goo Moo Chee. They were interested to learn more about Goo Moo Chee’s family in China and learn more about Goo Moo Lum who will be 99 years old this year.

Kwok Lai Chuen 郭醴泉 1896-1950

kwok lai chuen 1930Kwok Lai Chuen 郭醴泉(aka Gock Gum Chew郭金泉) was born on 24 June 1896 in Jook So Yuen 竹秀園, Zhongshan. Kwok Lai Chuen’s grandfather, a scholar and teacher taught at the village school in Jook So Yuen. Although Kwok Lai Chuen’s father died at the early age of 32, Lai Chuen’s uncle supported the family.35 Kwok Lai Chuen had ten years of schooling in his grandfather’s private tutoring school.

Leaving home

ching hoo gock honson 1923Kwok Lai Chuen left home at the age of 20 in 1916. He left home to work in his cousin’s business, the Wing On Company, at Ultimo, near Haymarket, Sydney for four and a half years. He then moved to Fiji to work for a cousin in the Gock-Honson business for one and a half years.36 While in Fiji he damaged his left leg falling from a horse and dragging him on the ground.

He returned to Sydney and later boarded the vessel Maheno bound for Auckland in 1922. He paid the poll tax on his arrival in Auckland.

Auckland sojourn

Within a month of arriving Lai Chuen opened a fruit shop ‘Lung On’ (or Lung Hong) along with other kinsmen on the corner of West Street and Karangahape Road, Auckland. After two years he sold his share of the business and returned to Fiji. After 18 months working in Fiji he moved to Sydney and went into partnership with his Uncle Chee Fay in a grocery shop for about a year.

Kwok Lai Chuen returned to China in 1925 to marry Young Gum Mau (楊金梅), aged 18, from Buck Toi (北台) village, an hour’s walk from Jook So Yuen. During his stay in China their eldest daughter Gock Mee Ying (郭美英) was born.

After his return to New Zealand on the Monowai in 1926, Kwok Lai Chuen opened a fruit shop in Victoria Street, Cambridge under his own name ‘Kwok Lai Chuen’. He remained in Cambridge for a year and a half before leaving for Sydney where again he worked for Wing On Company for the next five years.

k lai chuen store 1940In 1932 Kwok Lai Chuen returned to New Zealand for five months before going back to his village in China where he remained until 1936. Laurence Gock (Gock Shek Young郭石仰) was born in 1935 and Noeline (Gock Mee Dak郭美德) was born in 1936.

In 1936 Kwok Lai Chuen returned to Auckland and joined his kinsman Ho Chew Chong as a partner in Jang Hing & Co in Broadway, Newmarket and remained there for about four years from 1936/37 -1939, before purchasing Lowe Nam’s milk bar-fruit shop in Coromandel.

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Coromandel Milk Bar- Fruit shop 1939-1949

In 1939 Kwok Lai Chuen (郭醴泉) (aka Gock Gum Chew 郭金泉37) arrived in Kapanga Road in the small Coromandel town ship to take over Lowe Nam’s fruit shop. It is understood that the very first shop (which is now part of the ‘Star and Garter’ bar)38 was probably located on the opposite side of the road to the one Lai Chuen later purchased.39 Wailin Elliott of Driving Creek was told by the local postman years ago that there was a little shed outside where the ice-cream was made.40 She was also said that the little side part of the now "Star and Garter" bar was where fruit and vegetables were sold.

The second shop at 24 Kapanga Road was next door to the Farmers Trading Company and the company name K Lai Chuen was painted on signage high above the shop front. The shop was empty when he purchased it for £275 in about 1943.41

Son, Laurence Gock (Gock Shek Young 郭石仰) who arrived in Coromandel in 1949 describes the shop:

The front end of the building had 3 parts, bedrooms, left side of shop as milk bar, right side of shop as fruit & veg. The back part of the shop has two parts, one half was the kitchen with doors to the bedroom, the shop and the back yard and the right side was toilet and storage. There was also an attic above the storeroom.

Sketch of approximate layout of the building.

Kwok Lai Chuen is said to have done very well in his shop during the war years. The few American soldiers who visited Coromandel were happy to spend money on ice creams, candy and drinks.42 There was also extra business when families came to stay in the Long Bay camping ground close to the town and in their holiday baches at nearby beaches. Laurence says:

‘On one side there were soft drinks and sweets on display on the counters, and a refrigerator for ice cream. The other side had bins on the bottom shelf for potatoes, onions and other root vegetables. The second shelf was for greens and the fruit were on the top shelf.’ 43

kwok lai chuen in aucklandGrocery and confectionary items were ordered from Auckland wholesalers such as Entrican Sim & Co, Customs Street East; National Trading Co, corner of Fort and Customs Street; Heards, Parnell; Nestles, Parnell; and Brown Bros and Geddes, Newmarket.

An electric generator driven by diesel engine was installed at the back of the shop to ensure refrigeration and ice cream was made in the shop for a period of time.

Fruit and vegetables were ordered from Turners and Growers and sent to Coromandel by boat from Auckland across the Hauraki Gulf, a four and a half hour trip.

Laurence recalls his time in Coromandel

Laurence Gock recalls his arrival from China on 3 November 1949 and his experiences in Coromandel:

The freighter trip from Hong Kong to Sydney took 45 days, and from there I flew on a TEAL flying boat to the middle of the city and landed at Mechanic’s Bay. My father hired a taxi from Coromandel to meet me in Auckland. He had the support of the principal of Coromandel District High School for my student visa application to come to New Zealand when the war ended in 1945, but I continued studying in Guangzhou until 1949. Upon entering the school in Coromandel in early November, I was put into Form 4 for most subjects and at Standard 3 level for English. All of the 15 or so secondary school students were taught in one room by one teacher in all subjects.

I boarded with my father’s friend, the local minister, M. Poninghouse, in Rings Road. The family had one boy and two girls, the oldest being about three years younger than me. They thought I was a novelty, being a boy from far away China and had a lot of interest teaching me English. I stayed with them from November 1949 to May 1950, except during the school holidays when I went to Auckland.

Kwok Lai Chuen returns to Auckland

In October 1949 Kwok Lai Chuen planned to make a trip back to his family in China. It was during that time that he leased his shop to Young Man Chit, a Zhongshan kinsman who had worked for him previously for a short time in 1944. Kwok Lai Chuen stayed on to help Young Mun Chit until early 1950 when he moved to Auckland staying at 217 Hobson Street while making arrangements to support his application to bring his wife Young Gum Mau and his youngest daughter Noeline (Gock Mee Dak born in 1936) to New Zealand. He was also making arrangements to take a trip back to China. Unfortunately he died suddenly on 22 July 1950 at the age of 54.

Kwok Lai Chuen’s wife and Noeline were finally granted entry permits to come to New Zealand when son Laurence was about to graduate in engineering from Auckland University. Noeline arrived in 1958 and his wife on Boxing Day, 1959. Noeline married John Chan and they purchased a fruit shop from George King & Co at 1204 Great North Road, Point Chevalier and operated it from 1965-1978. Young Gum Mau died at aged 84 on 5 January 1992.

Laurence Gock continued to rent out the Coromandel shop through to July 1963 when it was sold to Martin Culley, the chemist.

  1. 1931 Auckland Directory p.48 (1926 -1933)
  2. According to Archives NZ, Chung Wah age 20 arrived on the ship 'Maheno' from Sydney - certificate issued at Auckland 23/11/1920. He was a village cousin to Kwok Lai Chuen who became a partner in 1936-1940. Chung Wah was a market gardener in Rosebank Road, Avondale in the 1940s and 1950s.
  3. Norman Choy interviewed at Royal Oak by Lily Lee, December, 2007
  4. Later two of the shops became the Commercial Bank of Australia.
  5. Interview with Norman Choy conducted by Lily Lee, Royal Oak, Auckland, 10 December 2007.
  6. Interview with Rita Fong conducted by Lily Lee, January 28, 2010, Sydney
  7. The Weekly News was previously the Auckland Weekly News. It was a journal of commerce, agriculture, politics, literature and art which ran from 1863 to 1971.
  8. Personal communication from Jack Chong, 28 March 2016
  9. Interview with Lynn Lum conducted by Lily Lee at St Lukes, 19 February 2016
  10. Personal communication from Lynn Lum to Lily Lee, 1 March 2016
  11. Aka Ho Choi Tin or Mr Chong.
  12. Ho Young Dai 何 容 棣, ‘The Ho Family Tree’, unpublished article, handwritten in Chinese, 24 March 1993.
  13. The first born were twin girls who died at birth.
  14. The elder son Ho Mook Young born in 1909 went to Vancouver at an early age to be with his father. Ho Mook Young married a Canadian born Chinese girl Mary Siu in 1933 and settled in Victoria Island. They had two boys: David Young born 1941 and Donald Young born 1945. Ho Mook Young’s younger brother Ho Buck Hoong was born in 1928.
  15. Roger married Lai Nor Louie in 1968. They have two sons Michael Ho and William Ho.
  16. Anecdotes from Ho Sue Shee, second wife of Ho Chew Chong.
  17. Also written as Ho Shew She, Archives New Zealand.
  18. The usual age for marriage for girls in Zhongshan was between 15-18 years.
  19. Literally, in the context of a wedding, it says: “on the wedding day of welcoming the bride to the family, an auspicious dream prophesies the pregnancy of the bride. ‘來儀’ is originated from ‘有鳳來儀’ which means ‘the coming of the auspicious phoenix (a graceful female). ‘吉夢為熊’ is originated from ‘夢熊之兆’. Explanation provided by King Tong Ho, ‘Wooden Wedding Plaques’, April 2016.
  20. Told by Ho Sue Shee to her family.
  21. Interview conducted with Ho Sue Shee by Eva Wong Ng, Mangere, 10 March 1980.
  22. She had two children Young Chee Lum and Peter Louie who migrated to Vancouver.
  23. Between 1939 and 1941 the New Zealand government allowed women and children of Chinese permanent residents to come to New Zealand on a two year refugee permit subject to a bond of 200 pounds.
  24. Refer to Lee & Lam, ‘Sons of the Soil’ 2012, published by the Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial pp.396-398.
  25. Note Lum She Chin is recorded in Archives New Zealand.
  26. One mou equivalent to one sixth of and acre of land.
  27. Lum She Gum had a son Lum Yun Kee to his first wife in China. Lum Yun Kee went to work in Fiji. He had a godmother Mrs Cho Kou in Fiji whose husband was from the same village. Related closely to Cho Sit Har – refer to Bing and Shirley Wong, Lee, Lily & Lam, Ruth, Sons of the Soil, 2012.
  28. Lum She Leong had one boy and one girl. In 1949 when there was political turmoil in China he moved to Hong Kong, and by the 1960s he had lost the family fortune through mismanagement.
  29. Jilnaught Wong is the President of the Auckland Zhong Shan Clan Association.
  30. interview with Norman Choy conducted by Lily Lee at Royal Oak, Auckland, 10 December 2007.
  31. Interview with Lynn Lum conducted by Lily Lee at St Lukes, 19 February 2016.
  32. Lynn said, ‘Thelma had two daughters: Shirley trained as a nurse. She married Geoff Clews – from a well-known family in West Auckland. Her sister Joan was ‘down to earth and always laughing’. Thelma nee Kidd married Edward Cunnold on 30 May 1928, Papers Past, Auckland Star, 31 May 1928, p.11
  33. The guzheng (古箏), or Chinese zither, is a Chinese traditional plucked musical string instrument with over 2500 years of history. It has 16 or more strings and movable bridges.
  34. Personal communication with Mrs Goo Moo Lum, Mt Roskill by Lily Lee, 18 June 2015.
  35. His uncle lived until aged 75 and he worked with Wing On in Sydney. He built a two storied house in the village for his family. Personal communication from Laurence Gock to Lily Lee, 6 May 2015.
  36. Ching Hoo Gock Honson arrived in New Zealand in 1923 and returned to Fiji where he was managing director of Jang Hing Loong which had 48 branches in Fiji in the late 1920s, Ng Kum Lin Ali, Bessie, The Chinese in Fiji, 2002, p.114. He is the brother of Mrs Gock Wong Toi.
  37. Gock Gum Chew was the name registered in the New Zealand Archives.
  38. Personal communication from Wailin Elliot, 16 February 2016. Information provided by residents Val McNeil, Dulcie Pepper, Lena Darling and Jan Visser.
  39. In 1949, when son Laurence Gock arrived, the first shop was unoccupied and Kwok Lai Chuen was using it to live in. Personal communication from Laurence Gock to Lily Lee, 25 May 2009.
  40. Personal communication with Wailin Elliot, 16 February 2016.
  41. Archives New Zealand, Wellington Office R22534264.
  42. Personal communication from Laurence Gock to Lily Lee, 2 May 2009.
  43. Personal communication from Laurence Gock to Lily Lee, 6 May 2015