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Second edition of Poll Tax research paper launched

Second edition of Poll Tax research paper launched

A second edition of "The Poll Tax in New Zealand: A Research Paper" will be launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter at a Chinese New Year function at Parliament today.

The first edition was commissioned by the New Zealand Chinese Association

and published in 1996.

"The Poll Tax in New Zealand: A Research Paper", by Nigel Murphy, contains a list of some 2,000 Chinese people who paid the tax at Wellington between the years 1888 and 1930. It is the largest and most complete listing of poll tax

payers. It can be searched online at the Office of Ethnic Affairs' website,


Historians have estimated that some 4,500 people paid the poll tax. Unfortunately the details of only a portion of those who paid the tax have survived due to a combination of accident and poor record keeping.

On 12 February 2002, Prime Minister Helen Clark formally apologised for the imposition of the poll tax and discrimination in law against Chinese New Zealanders in earlier times. Since then, the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have been consulting with representatives of the families of early settlers on a form of reconciliation.

The recording of the names of people who paid the tax has great symbolic

significance for the poll tax descendant community as it details the name

and arrival information of their forebears.

The current edition of the book and the online searchable database have been published in response to interest expressed by members of the Chinese community about the history of the poll tax in New Zealand, and are a direct outcome of the poll tax apology.

Author, Nigel Murphy, has studied Chinese New Zealand history for over 15

years and is the author of several publications on the subject. Nigel

Murphy is Curator of Newspapers and Serials, New Zealand and Pacific

Published Collections, Alexander Turnbull Library. In 2002 he was seconded

to the Office of Ethnic Affairs as a researcher and historian to support

the Chinese poll tax apology reconciliation process.

The book is available from the Office of Ethnic Affairs at a cost of $25

including GST and postage.

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