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Murder in Haining Street

Murder in Haining Street

David Fung

A cold-blooded murder regarded as the low point in New Zealand Chinese race relations will be marked in a special ceremony at the Tory St end of Haining St in Wellington on Sunday afternoon, September 25.

One hundred years ago, an elderly Chinese man Joe Kum Yung was shot and killed at this location by Lionel Terry, an English migrant so preoccupied by the "Yellow Peril" that he visited Haining St, then the centre of Wellington's Chinatown specifically to kill the first Chinese person he saw. It was Joe Kum Yung's misfortune to be that person.

Terry turned himself into the police and was later committed to the Seacliffe Psychiatric Hospital. Terry was a white supremacist but newspapers of the time record public sympathy for Terry's misguided philosophies if not his actions. While much is known about Terry, little is known of Joe Kum Yung, except that he was an invalid after a gold mining accident and practically penniless at the time of his murder. In China he had a wife whom he had not seen for 38 years. If not for his murder Joe Kum Yung would have disappeared into history.

The sadness of Joe Kum Yung's story, the sensationalism at the time and the public sympathy for Lionel Terry during his trial, defines this event as the low point of Chinese New Zealand experience. The Joe Kum Yung Centenary Ceremony remembers not only Joe Kum Yung, but also the many others of Chinese descent who endured that time. This part of New Zealand history should not be forgotten, but serve as a reminder that any sort of racial prejudice in New Zealand should not be tolerated.

The Joe Kum Yung Centenary Commemoration will feature street theatre, followed by the lighting of incense in a traditional ceremony to honour the spirit of Joe Kum Yung. Following the ceremony speakers representing Government, race relations and community interests will address the audience on the issues Joe Kum Yung's murder raises today.

The Joe Kum Yung Centenary Commemoration is being held on Sunday 25 September 2005, 11.30am to 1pm, Tory St end of Haining St. All welcome.

lived in the area. She will be able to describe actual life in Haining St and supply anecdotes and stories.


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