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Time to reflect on historic poll tax apology

Time to reflect on historic poll tax apology


This year marks the twelfth anniversary of the historic poll tax apology by the Labour Government which healed many wounds for the Kiwi Chinese community and strengthened New Zealand’s legacy as an inclusive and welcoming multicultural society.

It was during the last Year of the Horse celebrations in 2002 that the then Prime Minister Helen Clark made the official apology to the Chinese community on behalf of all previous New Zealand governments for the racially discriminatory legislation.

While celebrating the Chinese New Year, which will culminate this Friday 14 February with the Lantern Festival in Auckland, Kiwi Chinese people nationwide are remembering the historic apology and celebrating New Zealand’s diverse and inclusive society.

Labour’s first Chinese-born MP Raymond Huo says the turn of the 12-year Chinese lunar calendar is a poignant time for the community to reflect on the history of the poll tax as well as the continued growth of our Kiwi Chinese community in New Zealand.

“The Chinese Immigrants Act of 1881 imposed a poll-tax of ten pounds per Chinese person and limited the amount of Chinese people who were able to enter New Zealand, something no other ethnic group was subjected to. The racially discriminatory legislation caused Chinese people in New Zealand to feel a sense of grievance.

“Celebrations of the Year of the Horse are also an important opportunity to remember and pay tribute to those early pioneers who paved the way for future Chinese migrants to make a life of opportunity in New Zealand.

“On this occasion it is timely for us to remember and mourn respected Chinese academic Emeritus Professor Kuan Meng Goh who sadly passed away in January this year.

“Professor Goh was instrumental in initiating the historic apology to the Chinese community for the poll tax, as well as offering invaluable service to the Chinese communities both in Christchurch and across New Zealand” says Raymond Huo.

“While celebrating Chinese New Year with local communities across New Zealand, I’ve had people sharing with me the Chinese saying that urges us to remember when drinking water, don't forget those who dug the well” says Raymond Huo. “Over the Spring Festival Labour is paying tribute to those early settlers and offering a vision of a diverse society that offers fairness and opportunity for all. “

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