When gold fever hit Central Otago in the late 19th century, hundreds of Chinese immigrants were among the hopeful prospectors. They were a quiet community scraping a living in harsh conditions, hoping to save money for families back home. This report for Contact follows the work of archaeologist Neville Ritchie, who in 1981 led one of Aotearoa's "biggest archaelogical operations" yet — an excavation of Cromwell's Chinatown, the makeshift village left to nature after the last miner died. It was part of wider research of the area, before new dams put some of the history underwater.
The early immigrants were initially treated with curiousity, but also a measure of respect."It seems astonishing how these industrious people manage to get gold when everyone else has concluded there is none", the Queenstown-based Lake Wakatipu Mail reported in 1870...– Mark Andrews, in an article on Chinese goldminers in New Zealand, The South China Morning Post, 16 July 2017