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The Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust presents The Fruits of Our Labours, chronicling the development of Chinese fruiterers in New Zealand.

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The Fruits of Our Labours

Many of us remember well the daily or weekly trip to the local shops to buy our food supplies – meat, bread, milk, fruit and veges. Often, the fruit and vege shop was run by a Chinese family, all working together to provide the customer with the freshest fruit and produce, always accompanied by personalised service.

However, the introduction of self-service retailing and the emergence of supermarkets led to the demise of the independent retailer, and the days of the Chinese fruiterer have all but ended.

The Fruits of Our Labours traces the development of Chinese fruit shops from the general store-cum-greengrocer of the 1880s through to the fresh fruit and vegetable retailer of today. The 1950s and 60s were the heyday years of Chinese fruit shops: a time of economic growth and prosperity after the hard times of the Depression and the Second World War, both of which affected Chinese fruiterers.

Authors Ruth Lam, Beverly Lowe, Helen Wong, Michael Wong, and Carolyn King were commissioned by the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust to produce this fully-illustrated, two-volume set. It combines historical research and statistics with the personal stories and photographs of Chinese fruit shop families to give a better understanding of the hard work and sacrifice that led to their eventual prosperity and that of their descendants – the fruits of their labours.

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