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Nelson Newsletter, November 2020


Our Nelson Branch November newsletter includes details of our last meeting for the year on Friday 27 November.


In 1902, the ship SS Ventnor set out for China carrying the bones of 499 Chinese men who had died in New Zealand. Sadly the ship hit a rock off the Taranaki coast and eventually sank off the Hokianga Heads. This was a great catastrophe for the community, as it was believed that, far from family and in a watery grave, there would be no-one to tend to the men’s spirits in the afterlife and they would be homeless spirits. Despite a careful and thorough search immediately after the sinking, no remains were found.

In 2007, the Chinese community in New Zealand became aware that at least some of the remains may have been found. Wellington writer Kirsten Wong has since been following the story of the SS Ventnor for the Wellington Chinese Association. When they heard stories about Māori involvement with their Chinese history, she and other Chinese decided to travel to the Hokianga to meet iwi leaders. They were surprised to find that local iwi had cared for the bones that had been washed ashore from the shipwreck.

Kirsten will bring us her story of how two cultures have bonded together because of a tragedy and a shared custom of honouring and caring for their ancestors.

Click here to view the full November 2020 Nelson Branch newsletter(pdf).