This story was written by Lily Lee, February 2018.

This family story is about Wong King Yin his two sons, See Wai Wong, Chas (See Chu) Wong, and two daughters, Pu Fong Cheung (nee Wong) and Man Ying Lam (nee Wong)


Wong King Yin 1897-1958

Wong King Yin 黃景賢, also known as Wong Kwok Bow 黃國寶, was born on 22 October 18971 in the village of Ching Gong 青崗to the north of Dai Chung 大涌in Zhongshan county.2 Wong King Yin married Lam Chu Wan 林兆雲. She was born on 18 January 19013 in the village of On Tong安堂, in the district of Dai Chung 大涌. Their eldest daughter Pu Fong 黄蒲芳 was born in Ching Gong in 1920.

Ching Gong village. Looking west from Wong King Yin’s house, 1987. Courtesy CHAS WONG

In the same year as his eldest daughter was born, Wong King Yin came to New Zealand to seek his fortune. His journey was similar to that undertaken by other Zhongshan men who came as sojourners in the same period – not intending to stay but to earn sufficient money to take back home and live comfortably. He and one other Wong were the only men of his generation to come to New Zealand from Ching Gong.4 Wong King Yin arrived on the SS Riverina from Sydney on 4 October 1920. He was 23 years old. He passed the education test, paid the poll tax of £100 and started his life earning a living in New Zealand.

Wong King Yin’s poll tax certificate no 526, 1920, ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND

After first arriving in 1920, Wong King Yin returned to China three times, each time coincided with the birth of his three other children, a daughter and two sons. The first time, he left New Zealand on 19 March 19265 and arrived back on 2 November 1926.6 Daughter Pu Leen 蒲蓮, known as Man Ying 珉瑛7, was born a month later on 21 December 1926. The second time was in 1930. Wong King Yin left on the SS Maunganui for Sydney on 3 January 1930.8 He returned to New Zealand on SS Aorangi from Sydney on 20 October 1930.9 His first son, See Wai仕偉 was born November 1930. The third time was in 1936. He left on SS Monowai for Sydney on 21 February 1936.10 Youngest son See Chu 仕超, was born in 1936.11

Early Years in New Zealand

As a young man, Wong King Yin went to Clive near Hastings and worked as a market gardener for Chong On, a partnership of kinsmen from Zhongshan. He worked there for about 15 years with trips back to China in 1930 and 1936.12 He would have experienced the Napier earthquake and the Great Depression during his market gardening time. Returning to New Zealand in 1936, it is likely Wong King Yin returned to Hawke’s Bay to work again at the Chong On garden where he worked with Gock Loy Fat from Jook Sou Yuen, the father of Joe and David Gock.13

At some stage, he left Clive and went to work in the market gardening area of Makaraka in Gisborne. He reported that he was living at Makaraka on 11 September 1939.14 Records show that he did not move again until 1 December 1942 when he reported that he was residing in Auckland.

Wong King Yin, 1951. ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND.

In Auckland, Wong King Yin lived with other Zhongshan men at 3 Osborne Street, Newmarket15 and two years later, in 1944, he moved again to another house of Zhongshan men owned by Norman Choy at 394 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket.16 While living in Newmarket, Wong King Yin worked for Tong On, a market gardener in Mangere for about three years.17
He then started work as a shop assistant at Sing Lee & Co, 212 Broadway, Newmarket, earning £7.10.0 weekly. Sing Lee & Co was a fruit shop owned by Wong Jook, known as William Hing, also from Zhongshan. After a year of working in the fruit shop, Wong King Yin applied to bring his wife and two sons to New Zealand; he made his application in February 1949. In his application, Wong King Yin stated he had £700 in cash – £100 in the Auckland Savings Bank, £200 loaned to Sun Yeng, a market gardener of Mangere and £400 held in safe-keeping with Thomas Doo Jnr.18

Wife and Sons Arrive in New Zealand

In late 1949, Wong King Yin was reunited with his wife and two sons. Permission was granted in March and on 15 October 1949, Lam Chu Wan and their two sons, See Wai (age 18) and See Chu known as Chas (age 12) left Hong Kong by cargo ship.
Chas Wong describes the journey:
We travelled for more than two weeks in a cargo ship called the Tai Ping. During the journey almost all the adults got seasick. The children were running around getting food and water for them. Our living quarters were down in the cargo area – so often during hot nights, we kids would sleep on the top deck.
Our first stop was in Sydney, Australia where we were met by our grandfather. We stayed in his house in George Street for a few weeks while waiting for our flight to New Zealand. We arrived at Whenuapai airport on 18 November 1949.
Initially, the parents lived in a room at 394 Khyber Pass Road19 and the boys lived at another house at the corner of York Street and 463 Khyber Pass Road with Leung Mow Tong whose wife arrived at the same time as the Wong family. When Chas was asked to comment on his impressions of when he arrived as a schoolboy, he said that he was surprised and very disappointed with the accommodation the local Chinese had to rent in Newmarket. He felt that it was very substandard compared with how he had lived in Macau and even back in China. ‘Is this the country we referred to when we were in China as Gum Shan (Gold Mountain)?’ he wondered.
Upon arrival, See Wai worked in the Sing Lee fruit shop. Chas went to Beresford Street Primary School for two years and then went on to attend secondary school at Seddon Memorial Technical College in Wellesley Street.20

Beresford Street Primary School photo: Chas Wong, back row third from right. Other Chinese boys in back row: third from left Jock Fong, fourth from left Won Chan, fifth from left Tom Gin. Second row: third from left Henry Fong, fifth from left Ron Chan. Third row: first on left Alan Wong. Fourth row: third from left BebeThompson (nee Doo), seventh from left Colleen Edwards (nee Doo). Front row: first from right Peter Fong. Courtesy CHAS WONG.

In March 1950, Wong King Yin moved to 11 Malta St, Freemans Bay.21 While the family were living there, he and his wife worked in a factory making toys for Line Bros of Tamaki. During that time Wong King Yin also worked for a market gardener in Tamaki.

Settling in Mangere

On 14 November 1953, the family moved to a five-acre block in 41 Norana Ave, Mangere.22 Here they set up a market garden under the name K Y Wong, successfully growing a range of vegetables including celery, tomatoes and marrows. The whole family worked hard in the garden using their own truck to transport vegetables to market. Wong King Yin died on 18 December 1958, aged 61, and is buried at Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

From left, Wong King Yin, Chas (See Chu) standing, See Wai and Lam Chu Wan, c1955. Courtesy S W WONG FAMILY
Inside the sitting room there were wall paintings and carved doorways, 1987. Courtesy CHAS WONG.

Wong King Yin’s wife Lam Chu Wan lived with her elder son See Wai, his wife Pui Ying and children for many years. She became a naturalised New Zealander on 13 April 1967.23 ‘It was her desire to return to China once more to visit the house she lived in for the early part of her married life and also to visit her birthplace in On Tong’, said daughter-in-law Pui Ying. In 1978, she returned and was accompanied by her New Zealand-born grandchildren who were visiting Zhongshan for the first time. ‘It was a very special and memorable journey,’ said Pui Ying, ‘and she was pleased to see the furniture was still intact in the house after so many years.’24 Lam Chu Wan died on 11 February 1990, aged 89 years. She is also buried at Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

Wong King Yin’s Two Sons

Ancestral photos in the house in Ching Gong: From left, Wong King Yin’s grandfather Wong Turn Won and his wife. They had five sons (two migrated to the USA). On right is eldest son Wong Bun ll 黃品瑤 aka George Wong, father of Wong King Yin. Wong Bun ll had a daughter from a second wife in China. He later settled with an European woman in Sydney. He died there and is buried in Sydney. Courtesy CHAS WONG

See Wai Wong 黃仕偉 1930–2012

See Wai and Pui Ying Wong, 1985. Courtesy PHILIP WONG

See Wai is the third generation born in China to live overseas. In 1959, See Wai married Lam Pui Ying 林佩英 (born 1940) of On Tong, Zhongshan. (Pui Ying is the niece of Lam Ken Cheung, Man Ying’s husband). See Wai and Pui Ying have four children born in New Zealand: Philip, Richard, Michael and Beverley.
With Pui Ying working alongside him, See Wai continued market gardening at Norana Avenue and traded as S W Wong. He built glasshouses (one single and one double) on his property and began producing indoor crops of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums. Then in 1969, while still working at Norana Avenue, he expanded his market gardening operation by purchasing 9 acres (3.64 ha) at 437 Puhinui Road from the Bolton family.

This excerpt of gardening life of See Wai and his family at Puhinui Road is found in Sons of the Soil by Lily Lee and Ruth Lam.25 David Wyllie, a local resident who knew and admired the family wrote:

It was a bare block of land except for one water trough for the cows to drink out of. An island farm it had Puhinui Road as one boundary and forks of the Waokauri Creek as the other boundary. … On the highest part of the farm opposite the eastern corner of Prices Road, a commercial water bore was put down for the garden. It was used daily until the land contour was altered when the road was lowered and widened making Puhinui Road the southern entrance to Auckland Airport in 1996.

See Wai had a large shed built on the western side of the gateway where he kept his tractors and packed his produce assisted by his wife and family. David comments on the market garden and the family:

His children helped out in the market garden on weekends and school holidays and also often after school. Two of his three sons would regularly bike from Mangere Intermediate and Otahuhu College after school to help their parents during busy times. The family would often work late into the night when needed.
All the children are university graduates and worked in the market garden while undertaking and also after completion of their university studies. Two of the sons are medical practitioners, another son an engineer and the daughter is a commerce graduate.

Mr and Mrs Wong continued gardening and kept a very clean farm without a lot of weeds encroaching around the boundary. Growing most vegetables kept them both very busy although family members helped out when possible. Their main crop was celery. At one time they grew dwarf and standard tomatoes letting the public pick their own having marrows, cucumbers, beans etc for sale.

The Wongs ceased gardening in 1996 and leased their farm out to Gilbert Wong, the eldest son of Charlie Wong (unrelated), who is still growing celery and spring onions today.
See Wai died on 28 December 2012 and is buried at Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

The Children and Grandchildren of See Wai Wong

Today, the first generation of children born in New Zealand of See Wai and Pui Ying Wong are all married with children and have already served many years in their chosen professions.
In 1985, Philip married Suey Lim of Whenuapai. Her mother, Sue Wah, was a Lee from Larm Tien嵐田 village also in Dai Chung, Zhongshan. Since graduating in 1984, Philip has become a specialist in gastroenterology and is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science at Auckland University. Philip and Suey have three sons, Nicholas, Brendon and Scott.
In 1992, Michael married Timhela Chung of Auckland. Michael is an engineer. Michael and Timhela have a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Victoria.

In 1993, Beverley married Les Tom of Auckland. Beverley, a commerce graduate, has worked in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG )industry and the education sector. Beverley and Les have two sons, William and Matthew.

In 1997, Richard married Jenny Wong of Masterton. Richard, a general practitioner graduated in 1985 and has his own practice, Juliet Avenue Surgery, in Howick. Richard and Jenny have a daughter Rebekah and a son Cameron.

Chas (See Chu) Wong 黄仕超 1936-

With his brother See Wai, Chas arrived in New Zealand in 1949 when he was aged 13. He had the opportunity to attend school here and learn to communicate in English. He too helped in the family garden until he married.

Early years in Ching Gong and Macau

Chas spent his early years in Ching Gong village with his mother, his older brother See Wai and sister Man Ying. In 1944, Man Ying got married and moved to live in On Tong. In 1945, his mother and her two sons left for Macau and that became their base for the next four years. Chas recalls:
During that time See Wai attended Pui Ching Secondary school 培正中學in Guangzhou as a border and I spent four years attending Pui Ching Middle School 培正初中 in Sao Lazaro, Macau. They were prestigious private Baptist Christian schools where we got a good grounding in Chinese. See Wai liked sports and was keen on basketball.
After living in Macau for four years Chas said his mother felt they needed to return to Ching Gong to live to ensure that her sons would not forget their Zhongshan heritage and Chinese roots. ‘Mum was the most kindest person and full of wisdom – I was fortunate to have her as my mum’, he said. In 1949, they spent most of the year in Ching Gong where they lived in their family home before departing for a new life in New Zealand.

Return to Ching Gong in 1987

Looking north towards the motorway and fields from Wong King Yin’s house in 1987. Courtesy CHAS WONG.

Later in life, Chas returned to visit Ching Gong. When asked about the village, he made these comments:

Our village was one of the best-developed villages – simply because of its location near the main motorway. Many business families who lived in Macau, Hong Kong and overseas sent money back to improve the village. There were horticulture and fish farming on the northern side of the highway and markets and shops adjacent to the motorway. It can be divided into four sections. We lived in the central section (中心堡) and just below our house was the joo jerng chee tong祖宗詞堂 (ancestors’ temple) which was also used for a school.

Our house, grand for its time, with good views, was built many years ago. It was a large two-storey house and the rear of the house was made up of a tower of five storeys. There was a yard where we had our own well and outside toilet. The exterior of the house was made of bricks and concrete. Each level could be locked, the windows had bars across and had a gun-hole through the wall. There were even rocks kept on the rooftop ready to throw at bandits. Looking from the rear tower we could see the highest point of our village which we referred to as Hou Mun Shan 后門山 (Back Door Hill).

Chas, who had fond memories of a happy childhood, felt sad and upset upon returning to his village for the first time. ‘It was not a good feeling,’ he said. ‘For one thing, all of the Wong King Yin descendants have disappeared from Ching Gong, there’s no one there. And I was upset to see that the house was so neglected and in such poor condition.’

Life in New Zealand

In 1960, Chas married Lowe Kam Hung, daughter of Lowe Young Tai 劉容大from Liu Hou 寮后 village, Zhongshan. Chas and Kam Hung have four children: Desmond, Stephen, Jennifer and Elizabeth.

Soon after marrying, Chas left the market garden and went into fruit-and-vegetable retailing for eight to nine years in Dominion Road. Chas then studied and passed the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) examination. He became an associate member (AREINZ) and was fully qualified to hold an agent’s licence.  Chas worked at Were Realty and Realty Brokers Commercial for four years and then with Turners & Growers Ltd for sixteen years.

In the early 70s, Chas decided to return to growing and built four glasshouses totalling 44,000 square feet on his property which was next to that of his brother See Wai Wong. With the help of his wife and family, Chas grew glasshouse tomatoes for about 15 years. When the government introduced incentives for exports in the 1980s, he began to grow green Italia grapes for export to Japan. Chas relinquished the business in 1985 to his sons Stephen and Desmond who expanded the glasshouse business.26

During his time growing Chas was actively involved in the Auckland Chinese Growers’ Association and Evergreen Producers Ltd a trading co-operative formed by the Association. In 1982, Chas became its first chairman of directors and held this position for two years.

Chas also helped a relative set up a restaurant business in the 1970s and in order to upskill himself he attended classes part-time at ATI (Auckland Technical Institute) now AUT (Auckland University of Technology). Chas took courses in catering and in institutional management and was successful in gaining awards in 1977 from the City and Guilds of London Institute. This provided him with a good overview of the industry.

In the 1980s, Chas returned to commercial real estate and worked for Barfoot & Thompson in the Otahuhu and Manukau City offices for a total of 25 years. Until his recent retirement, he had spent a total of 36 years in the industry including holding an agent’s licence for 27 years as Chas Wong Realty Ltd.

On a recent visit to China, Chas remarked, ‘the whole of China has changed to a supremely beautiful country. I feel very proud of being Chinese and of my Chinese heritage.’

Chas also helped a relative set up a restaurant business in the 1970s and in order to upskill himself he attended classes part-time at ATI (Auckland Technical Institute) now AUT (Auckland University of Technology). Chas took courses in catering and in institutional management and was successful in gaining awards in 1977 from the City and Guilds of London Institute. This provided him with a good overview of the industry.

In the 1980s, Chas returned to commercial real estate and worked for Barfoot & Thompson in the Otahuhu and Manukau City offices for a total of 25 years. Until his recent retirement, he had spent a total of 36 years in the industry including holding an agent’s licence for 27 years as Chas Wong Realty Ltd.

On a recent visit to China, Chas remarked, ‘the whole of China has changed to a supremely beautiful country. I feel very proud of being Chinese and of my Chinese heritage.’

The Children and Grandchildren of Chas (See Chu) Wong

Desmond is an electrical contractor. He married Alison Shack of Pukekohe in 1997 and they have two children, Keegan and Paris. Stephen is also an electrical contractor. He married Elaine Young of Pukekohe in 1998 and they have one child, Dylan. Jennifer is a supply chain projects manager. Elizabeth is a pharmacist. She married Grant Young of Wellington in 2000 and they have three children Cameron, Maia and Hayden.

Auckland Zhong Shan Clan Association

Mrs Lam Chu Wan Wong, her sons See Wai and See Chu (Chas) Wong and her daughter Man Ying Lam and their respective families have been involved over the years in the Auckland Zhong Shan Clan Association and participated in its many activities and celebratory dinners. Chas was the first to become involved.

Chas became involved in the Association in the early 1980s. Chas recalls the early stages of its formation:

We were having lunch at the Sun Sun Restaurant quite regularly and we talked about forming an Association. The main reason was that as a clan we can do things together – have activities where we can combine young people and older people. We could look after the elderly, visit people in need and sponsor immigrants. This was the start…
Chas was invited to be the first chairperson in 1984 and remained its chair until 1986. He attended several overseas conferences with other delegates and enjoyed meeting Zhongshan people who represented Zhongshan Associations in other countries. On one of the trips, he paid a visit to his homeland. He remains a member of the association.

Wong King Yin’s Two Daughters

Cheung Wong Pu Fong 張黃蒲芳 1920-1944

Cheung Wong Pu Fong. Courtesy S W WONG FAMILY.

On Wong King Yin’s third visit back home in 1936, the family celebrated the marriage of his elder daughter Wong Pu Fong. She was 16 years old. Her father was home in China but was planning to go back to New Zealand and was uncertain when he would return again. He did not want to miss his daughter’s wedding so it was held before he left. She married a Cheung 張of Sha Kei 沙溪market town, who had just returned from working in Peru. They had four children, then sadly, Pu Fong herself died age 24 or 25 of severe gastroenteritis.27 During the ensuing years, Wong King Yin and his family sent remittances back to China to support the children of Pu Fong.

The Children and Grandchildren of Cheung Wong Pu Fong

The couple had four daughters. The two older girls were Cheung Gwai Jun 張桂珍 and Cheung Sui Jun 張琋珍. The names of the two other girls are not known, but it is known that one of the girls died in infancy.

The eldest daughter, Cheung Gwai Jun (Zhang Gui Zhen) married Cheung Sek Yun 張錫欣 (Zhang Xi Xin) also from Sha Kei. They had three sons, Cheung Chiu Hung 張兆洪 (Zhang Zhao Hong); Cheung Chiu Bao 張兆波 (Zhang Zhao Bo); Cheung Chiu Wing 張兆榮 (Zhang Zhao Rong) and two daughters, Cheung Chiu Ling 張兆玲 (Zhang Zhao Ling) and Cheung Chiu Hing 張兆興 (Zhang Zhao Xing). As adults, two of the children of Cheung Gwai Jun were sponsored to New Zealand by family members. The first to arrive was Cheung Chiu Ling who married Paul Lam in 1981 (see below). Then Cheung Chiu Bao came to New Zealand and worked in market gardening and in the building industry. He was able to bring his two sons Vincent and Stephen here for schooling.

Pu Fong’s second daughter, Cheung Sui Jun married Sue Yuk Wah from Nam Mun 南文village and they had two daughters, Sue Mei Yuk and Sue Man Yuk.28 Both daughters have now settled in New Zealand. Sue Mei Yuk is married to Gu Jei Ching 古志清 and Sue Man Yuk is also married. They all work in the restaurant business. Later, the daughters were able to sponsor their parents to New Zealand.

Lam Wong Man Ying 林黄珉瑛 1926-

In 1944, Wong Man Ying married Lam Ken Cheung 林勤宗 of On Tong, Zhongshan; she was his second wife. Lam Ken Cheung and Man Ying had six children. Judy (Pui King 佩琼) born 1946, Pak (Pak Pui 北培) born in 1947, Alex (Pak Hung北雄) born in 1949, Paul (Pak Kwong 北光) born in 1952, Pak Wor 北和 (who died as an infant of three years of age) and Shiu (Shiu Hung 少雄) born in 1959.

After sixteen years of marriage, Man Ying’s husband Lam Ken Cheung died in April 1960. Three years later, Man Ying and her five children joined her mother’s family in New Zealand.

Living in Ching Gong

In recent years, daughter Judy asked her mother about her life as a girl in Ching Gong village. Judy says:

Although Mum only saw her father briefly on his trips back to China, she said that he was a good husband and father. He treated his daughters well and he told his wife that he wanted them to be loved and cared for as young girls growing up under his roof. He was fearful for their futures – of how they could be treated after they were married as there would be many demands made on them from their husband’s family.

Mum’s mother was very proud of the house that King Yin had built for her. It was a very nice house – one of the best in the village. My mum had to do all the household chores. Her sister had married and her mother was busy looking after her two younger brothers. Mum’s mother treasured her good pieces of furniture made from ‘hung suen gee muk’ 紅酸枝木 (a high-quality rosewood) and my mum had to dust the furniture every day. They were not allowed to sit on the beautiful chairs.

Wong King Yin’s house in Ching Gong with power lines attached taken on a visit by the Lam family in 2000. Courtesy ALEX and RUTH LAM.

Marriage to Lam Ken Cheung

In 1944, Man Ying became the second wife of Lam Ken Cheung who was a well-respected businessman in the village of On Tong.29 Lam Ken Cheung’s family background is shared by his niece, Pui Ying Lam (See Wai Wong’s wife):

Great-grandfather Lam was poor, but grandfather Lam Wai Toi 林惠台 was enterprising and became quite wealthy. He married a Lee from Dai Larm 大嵐.
He built two houses side-by-side, one for each son. He bought a lot of lands and rented it out to tenant farmers to grow rice. He left what he had accumulated to his two sons Lam Ken Jick and Lam Ken Cheung.

Lam Ken Jick 林勤直 was my father. He married my mother, a Fong from Ho Chung. I have five brothers and an older sister. My mother died at age 49 when I was six years old. I went to live with my grandmother and when I was eight years old we both lived with my uncle Lam Ken Cheung.

My uncle, like my father, inherited the land and a house from his father. He put his money to good use and had a shop in On Tong selling rice. He purchased two boats which were used for transporting goods, especially fish, between On Tong and Macau – a Portuguese port. He had names for his boats, one was named Kin Keung堅強 and the other War Sang Lei 和生利. He was very kind and generous to all his relatives.30

Around 1945-1946, Lam Ken Cheung and Man Ying rented a place to live in Macau. They moved backwards and forwards from Macau to On Tong to do business and to visit his family. The family lived in Macau for several years where Judy and Pak were born.

At the same time, civil war broke out in China between the Kuomintang and the communist forces. As the communist forces moved south, Pui Ying recalls that her uncle wanted to leave China as he was a dai dee gee (major landholder) and his family would be at risk.

In 1948, the family left the village and moved to the safety of Macau before the borders closed in 1949. Lam Ken Cheung lost everything that he owned in the village of On Tong and was left with fewer resources to support his family.

They moved for a time to Hong Kong to seek new opportunities. Alex was born in Hong Kong in 1949, and then the family returned to Macau where Paul was born in 1952.

Living in Ching Shan (Castle Peak), Hong Kong

Later in 1952, Lam Ken Cheung was able to take his household to live in Hong Kong. His first wife lived in Kowloon with her children, and Man Ying, her children, his mother and Pui Ying lived in the rural area of Ching Shan. Pak War and Shiu were born in Ching Shan.

In 2017, Pui Ying Wong and Judy Chong talk about their early years. Courtesy LILY LEE.

Judy describes living in Ching Shan in the 1950s:

We lived on the coast and just across the water we could see Lantau Island where the new airport was built. There were fishermen living nearby in sampans who sold fish to us so we had a lot of fish to eat. I spent some of my childhood and some of my teenage years at Ching Shan so it has remained a very strong memory.

My father rented one of the units in what used to be an old storage shed by the water’s edge which accommodated at least five other families. There was a big beam that ran across the ceiling of our large room and I could hear the rats running across it at night. In a corner of the room we had a small kitchen with a wooden stove but no running water and no electricity. Behind our unit we had to walk a few steps to a primitive toilet, similar to the other tenants, where human waste was discharged directly into the sea.

We kept hens and Mum would sell the eggs so we could buy other food items. We kept a few pigs and grew veges for food for our pigs and to sell. My father tried to grow watermelon but the land was not suitable so it was not a success. At one stage he had a big flock of ducks. I remember them feeding by the water. He would keep them until they were mature then they were slaughtered and plucked to make lup up (dried preserved duck), a popular Chinese dish. But this did not work out either – I’m not sure why.

We were fortunate enough to attend school supported by our grandparents and uncles in New Zealand. After primary school, Pak and I spent some years studying at secondary school level and Alex reached secondary level school too.

Pui Ying was a great help to my mum who had young children at the time. She left for New Zealand in 1959 to marry my uncle See Wai.

My father took ill and was sick for some years. He had a kinsman he helped in the village in earlier years and who had since made money in Peru. The family were grateful that this man generously helped pay for my father’s treatment in a private hospital. My father died in 1960 at the age of 49.

Assisted by my grandparents and uncles in New Zealand we purchased a small house up on the hillside. It was a much nicer house for us. We remained there until we were given approval through the family reunification scheme to come to New Zealand.31

In October 1963, Man Ying Lam and her five children – Judy (17), Pak (16), Alex (14), Paul (12) and Shiu (4) – left Hong Kong and started their journey to a vastly different life in New Zealand.

A Different Life in New Zealand

During the first few years, the Lam family lived and worked with the Wong family in Norana Avenue, Mangere. The children continued their schooling – Judy, Pak, Alex and Kwong at Otahuhu College and Shiu started primary school.

The children were very hardworking and conscientious and helped their mother Man Ying start her own market garden business. By 1965, the family had their own house built at 6 Toatoa Place, Mangere and continued to work hard and in 1968, they were able to take over Fong Ping’s market garden lease on the Self family farm in Portage Road, Mangere.

In 1974, the family expanded their market garden operations to a 100-acre (40.46 ha) property in Mercer Ferry Road, Pukekawa. Initially, they grew celery and then diversified into export onions and buttercup squash, carrot and parsnips.

Man Ying has worked hard over many years and has been successful in her market gardening business with the support of her sons. In addition in 1986, the family bought 36 acres (14.56ha) at 431 Puhinui Road, Papatoetoe; it was next to See Wai’s property.

Man Ying retired from the business in 1989 but then took up the task of looking after the younger grandchildren. Now in her nineties, Judy says, ‘she is an amazing woman – she has overcome many obstacles – at the age of 37 she left Hong Kong with five young children, and she singlehandedly brought up the family – and since then she has been busy focussing on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.’

The Lam family from left, Paul, Alex, Man Ying, Judy, Pak and Shiu, 1973. Courtesy ALEX and RUTH LAM.

The Children and Grandchildren of Lam Wong Man Ying

In 1973, Judy (Pui King) married Ray Chong of Mangere. Judy supported Ray in market gardening in Riverhead until he retired. She has worked for many years as a carer of adults with disabilities.

Judy and Ray have five children – Yuk Kwan (Lynette), Get Kwan (Joyce), Sen Kwan (Joanne), Sow Han (Pauline) and Wai Mun (Mark). Yuk Kwan is married to Andrew Sams and has two children, Ethan and Lauren. Yuk Kwan is an operations adviser for Tupuna Maunga (Ancestral Mountains), Auckland Council. Get Kwan is married to Robert McKinnon and has four children, Oliver, Maximilian, Xaver, and Alexandra. Get assists her husband in a lighting-importing business. Sen Kwan, a physiotherapist, is married to John Filiopoulos and has two children, Zoe and Mika. They live in Melbourne. Sow Han is married to Nick Jamieson and has two children, Leo and Julia. She is a solicitor in a law firm in London, and Wai Mun’s partner is Olivia Byrne and they have a daughter, Sylvie. Wai Mun is General Manager of Skellerup Rubber Services and owns two Fit Factory 24-hour gymnasiums.

From left, Sen Kwan, Yuk Kwan, Sow Han, Wei Mun, Get Kwan. Front centre, Judy and Ray, 2014. Courtesy JUDY CHONG.

In 1975, Alex (Pak Hung) married Ruth Chan of Papatoetoe. Alex, while gaining his Bachelor of Science degree worked in their family market garden of Lam & Sons for over 20 years. In 1996, he founded his own market garden at Pukekawa.32

Alex and Ruth have four children – Melanie, Tracey, Stephanie and Christopher. Melanie is a pharmacist and is married to Brendon Jones. They have three children, George, Ruby and Emma. Tracey is a general surgeon and is married to Luke Fraser. They live in Melbourne. Stephanie is an environmental planner and is married to Jeremy Hantler. They live in Tauranga. Christopher is a web designer and is married to Tarryn. They have a son, Arlo.

From left: Brendon, Melanie, Luke, Tracey, Alex, Tarryn, Chris, Ruth, Man Ying, Jeremy and Stephanie. Children in front: George, Emma and Ruby, 2017. Courtesy ALEX and RUTH LAM.

In 1981, Paul (Pak Kwong) married Cheung Chiu Ling of Sha Kei, Zhongshan. Paul also worked with his brothers as Lam & Sons for over 20 years. In 1996, Paul established his own market garden at Puhinui. Paul retired from growing in 2009.

Back from left: Donna, Robyn, Sarah, Tiffiny, Caitlin and Paula. Front from left: Janice, Anna, Emily, Bonnie and Alice in 2013. Courtesy PAUL LAM.

Paul and Chiu Ling have eleven daughters – Janice, Paula, Robyn, Sarah, Anna, Alice, Donna, Bonnie, Tiffiny, Caitlin and Emily. Janice has a PhD in Biological Sciences and is working as a research scientist for a biotechnology company. Paula is married to Matthew Bull and they have a daughter, Harriet Chūng Wai Bull. Paula has a medical degree and is training in anaesthesia. Robyn has a Bachelor of Science and works as a laboratory analyst. Sarah has an engineering degree and is currently working as a product engineer. Anna has a medical degree and is training in general surgery. Alice has a commerce degree and is currently working as an economist. Donna has a commerce degree with honours in marketing. She is currently working as a business analyst. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in food science and is now working as a quality specialist. Tiffiny is currently studying economics and finance. Caitlin is completing her last year of high school and will be studying towards a conjoint degree in engineering and commerce. Emily is 16 and is currently attending high school.

Pak Pui in 1984, sadly passed away after a short illness. He had worked with Alex and Paul commercial growing as Lam & Sons.
In 1996, Shiu Hung married Teresa Lim of Mangere. Shiu has been a general practitioner for many years and in recent years has moved to Melbourne to practice.
Shiu and Teresa have four children – Vincent, Byron, Penelope and Isobelle. Sadly, Penelope passed away in 2012.


With the third and fourth generation now making a significant contribution to New Zealand society we can reflect on and appreciate the pioneering spirit and small beginnings of one man. Through this brief story of Wong King Yin and his children, we will have gained a glimpse of their lives. From Ching Gong, Zhongshan to living in New Zealand the family made many adjustments and sacrifices. In so doing, they have provided a legacy of Chinese culture, language and values to their New Zealand born children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


This story was compiled by Lily Lee from research and information collected and written by Ruth Lam in 2013-2014. I am indebted to Ruth. I am very grateful for the personal input from interviews conducted with Judy Chong on 1 September 2017, Pui Ying Wong on 4 September 2017 and Chas Wong on 12 September 2017. I would like to thank all members of the Wong and Lam families who have contributed to this story.


  1. Wong King Yin’s birthdate is from his Application for Registration.
  2. The Pinyin for Ching Gong Chuen is Qinggangcun and the Pinyin for Dai Chung is Dachong.
  3. Lam Chu Wan’s birthdate is from Application for Registration as an Alien, dated 21 November 1949. See headstone also.
  4. The other man known to be from Ching Gong did not have any family here. In the 1950s, Chas Wong was asked by his mother to take some herbal soup to him in Waipuna Road. Chas found him living alone in a market gardener’s shed. He was in his 60s and he is believed to have returned to China not long after. Personal communication from Chas Wong to Lily Lee, 19 September 2017.
  5. Alien re-entry certificate, 19 March 1926.
  6. Passenger list SS Ulimaroa, Sydney-Auckland, 2 November 1926.
  7. Man Ying was named Pu Leen at birth and was given the name Man Ying when she went to school.
  8. Alien re-entry certificate, 3 January 1930; Passenger list SS Maunganui, Auckland-Sydney, 3 January 1930.
  9. Alien re-entry certificate, 3 January 1930.
  10. Passenger list, SS Monowai, Auckland-Sydney, 21 February 1936.
  11. A note regarding birthdates: Man Ying was born in 1926 on the 21st day of the 12th month of the Chinese calendar so she uses 21 December 1926 as her English birthday. Her passport says she was born 21 December 1924 but this is incorrect. See Wai was born in 1930 on the 20th day of the 9th month of the Chinese calendar; this corresponds to 10 November 1930 in English. However it is believed that See Wai’s birthdate was recorded as 20 July 1931 on immigration documents so that he would be classed as a minor or dependent.
  12. See letter of application to bring wife and children to New Zealand, 13 March 1949.
  13. Man Ying said he was working with Gock Loy Fat, Joe and David Gock’s father. Gock Loy Fat was a partner in the Chong On garden from about 1937 to 1943. After that Gock Loy Fat left to set up his own garden, Kwong Sing, at Clive. See Lee, Lily, and Lam, Ruth, Sons of the Soil: Chinese Market Gardeners in New Zealand, Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers, 2012, p. 411.
  14. Certificate of Registration of Alien, 11 September 1939.
  15. Notification of change of address to New Zealand Police, 7 December 1942.
  16. Application for Registration as an Alien, 21 November 1944.
  17. Memo from Alien Office to Newmarket Police Station, 25 June 1946. Sons of the Soil says there was a Hong On from Zhongshan gardening in Muir Ave in the 1940s.
  18. Letter of application, 13 March 1949.
  19. Letter to Customs Department, 18 February 1949; letter of application, 13 March 1949; Report from New Zealand Police, Newmarket Station, 14 March 1949.
  20. Beresford Street School closed in 1977 and Seddon Memorial Technical College (now site of Auckland University of Technology) has moved to Western Springs and is known as Western Springs College.
  21. Notification of Change of Abode of Alien, 30 March 1950.
  22. Notification of Change of Abode and Occupation of Alien, 2 December 1953.
  23. Certificate of Registration booklet, 21 November 1949.
  24. Later after she passed away the family received correspondence to say that the furniture had been stolen’, said Pui Ying.
  25. Lee, Lily, and Lam, Ruth, Sons of the Soil: Chinese Market Gardeners in New Zealand, Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers, 2012, pp. 398-399.
  26. In the mid-80s, sons Stephen and Desmond took over the business and expanded it with the introduction of hydroponic growing systems. They leased additional glasshouses in Manukau, Mangere, Albany and Whenuapai, having a total of nearly 200,000 square feet under glass. However, by 2000, glasshouse-growing technology had improved yet again so the brothers decided not to continue growing. Lee, Lily, and Lam, Ruth, Sons of the Soil: Chinese Market Gardeners in New Zealand, Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers, 2012, p. 399.
  27. Richard Wong, email communication, 21 April 2016.
  28. Information provided by Pui Ying Wong in an interview at Mangere with Lily Lee and Judy Chong on 4 September 2017.
  29. His first wife had two daughters and three sons. She came from a family of ten siblings.
  30. Information provided by Pui Ying Wong in an interview at Mangere with Lily Lee and Judy Chong on 4 September 2017.
  31. Interview with Judy Chong, Point Chevalier, 1 September 2017.
  32. See Lee, Lily, and Lam, Ruth, pp. 490-492.