Guide to Laws and Policies relating to the Chinese in New Zealand 1871-1997 PDF Print

PDF version


One of the main difficulties facing those researching Chinese New Zealand history is the complex, confusing and daunting number of laws, policies and regulations relating to the Chinese in New Zealand. Compared with the actual size of the Chinese New Zealand community, the sheer number of these laws, policies and regulations is enormous. This is significant, not only because it shows what New Zealand has felt about the Chinese, but because each law, policy and regulation has been a barrier against which generations of Chinese New Zealanders have had to struggle to survive.


The complex legislative and administrative process, combined with the number of laws and policies enacted against Chinese, has until recently made this area of history almost inaccessible.


Nigel Murphy’s Guide to Laws and Policies relating to the Chinese in New Zealand 1871-1997 aims to rectify this situation. As its name implies its intention is to provide an easy-to-use guide to the Kafkaesque world of the laws, regulations and policy decisions relating to the Chinese in New Zealand. Commissioned by the New Zealand Chinese Association in 1994 and completed in 1996, it was intended to supplement the work done on the poll tax research book, and to provide a comprehensive guide to all laws, regulations and policies relating to Chinese New Zealanders enacted by the New Zealand government between 1871 and 1997.  A detailed index was compiled in 2008 thanks to a grant from the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust, and it was finally published in June this year.



The Guide consists of a chronological listing of all laws and policies relating to and affecting Chinese New Zealanders.  In also contains essays on key topics such as the poll tax, naturalisation, thumbprints and education tests, re-entry certificates, the permit system of entry relating to Chinese, Chinese business manager and student concessions, women, the 1939 refugee scheme, remittances, Chinese ownership of land, war service and registration of aliens.  It also has a number of appendices, including the full text of Customs Department circular memos—a primary source of information on immigration policy relating to Chinese in New Zealand between 1882 and 1945—, and the texts of all surviving petitions by Chinese New Zealanders relating to immigration. The Guide is 405 pages in length and is as complete a survey of the subject as possible. 


It will be an indispensable research tool for historians, researchers, genealogists and anyone interested in Chinese New Zealand history.


Copies are available from the New Zealand Chinese Association PO Box 6008 at a cost of $50.00

Asians and Violence PDF Print

Following a spate of violence resulting in three deaths, the Asian Community marched to demand greater law and order.    



NZCA position:



  1. The 10,000 strong march in Auckland is an indication that the Asian community is very concerned at what it sees as the targeting of Asians by criminal elements.


  1. The march is a legitimate means of communicating that concern to the wider community and the politicians.


  1. We support the marchers in expressing their anger and frustration at the apparent targeting of a visible minority some of whose members are vulnerable.


  1. The march  is a signal that the community as a whole needs to start working to uncover the causes of these attacks and to mitigate these causes.


  1. NZCA would like to share its long experience in living peaceably within the New Zealand community but recognises that current situation is new and will need a new approach.


  1. NZCA supports pro-active community awareness (including not carrying cash)  and training in self-defence but does not support vigilante action or any other actions outside the law.


  1. NZCA deplores Peter Low’s reported idea of employing “local triads” to protect the community and believes this to be an ill-considered comment which detracts from any positive results of the march and ultimately is divisive.


  1. NZCA will work towards making the Asian community an integral part of the New Zealand community working within the rule of law and not being a separate part with its own violent means of settling community conflict - an idea some new migrants must leave behind when then arrive on these shores.



July 2008


Letter published in the NZ Herald



9 July 2008



While many in the Chinese community support the weekend’s 10,000-strong march by Asians as an expression of concern and frustration that a visible minority with vulnerable members is apparently being targeted with impunity by criminals, the majority will deplore leader Peter Low’s reported idea of deploying vigilantes and “local Triads” to protect that community, and believe this to be an ill-considered comment that detracts from any positive outcomes of the march.


The Chinese have had a peaceable place in New Zealand for more than 130 years and while the current demographics is new, the way forward for the Chinese community is still as a full- integrated part of a multicultural New Zealand, living within the rule of law and not a separate part with exotic, extra-legal means of protection.


Our group, and many others, work towards a vision of the former and reject the latter.


Steven Young


New Zealand Chinese Association Inc