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Green Light for NZCA’s SS Ventnor Memorial Project

NZCA’s biggest project in years has just received the final green light from branches at December 2018’s Executive meeting in Wellington.

The Ventnor project commemorates one of our community’s most powerful stories: the sinking of the SS Ventnor carrying the remains of around 500 Chinese (mostly goldminers) that were being returned to their families in China. The Ventnor sank off the Hokianga coast in 1902 before it had the chance to leave New Zealand waters. Despite anti-Chinese feelings of the time, the remains that washed ashore were treated with care and respect by the people of the Hokianga, in particular the two iwi Te Roroa and Te Rarawa.

Local history has it that Rawene cemetery is the site where a large number of remains are buried, and it is here that the NZCA plans to build the memorial pictured above.

“It’s a momentous decision,” says President Meng Foon, “I am proud to represent and pay back to our ancestors who have paved the way for a better life for us all in New Zealand.”
As well as being a tribute to our history and ancestors, the memorial will also be our way of thanking the people of the Hokianga, and Te Roroa and Te Rarawa.

Meng also noted the widespread support the memorial has already received. This includes some very generous donations, the close involvement of Te Roroa and Te Rarawa, and the support of agencies such as the Far North District Council, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Te Papa, Heritage New Zealand and Te Puni Kokiri.

Once built, it is hoped that the memorial will become a distinctive cultural site enabling:

  • Future generations of Chinese New Zealanders to connect with their history and ancestors
  • Tangata whenua and other New Zealanders to pay their respects and celebrate the values and the history that we all share
  • People to learn about Chinese New Zealand history and understand more about early race relations and the ties between Chinese and Maori
  • More tourism and an economic boost to this beautiful part of New Zealand.

The memorial is scheduled for completion in April 2018, and the Ventnor subcommittee is planning an unveiling ceremony with an estimated 300-plus attendees. To time with the memorial’s launch in April, the Far North District Council is also launching a Ventnor-themed tourism trail called “Wandering with Ancestors”. Material for the trail will be translated into Chinese for the benefit of Chinese speakers.

If you would like to find out more about this project please contact your NZCA branch representative or Kirsten Wong (Email:

Share our Journey

We’d love for you to join us. Every time NZCA goes to the Hokianga, it’s a very special experience for those involved. The blessing ceremony on 7 April 2018, will literally be “once in a lifetime”. NZCA is organising a three-day bus trip, 7-9 April 2018, that will include the ceremony and visits to other Ventnor sites in the Waipoua forest (Te Roroa) and Mitimiti (Te Rarawa). Please book time in your diary now and be ready to book your place on the bus as spaces will be limited. We will let you know as soon as we have confirmed costings. If you want to put your name on the waitlist now, please email

Support the Cause

Thanks to our generous donors, we have raised $152,000, but we still have a way to go to reach our funding target of $200,000. If you can help, either by donating, joining the fundraising team or spreading the word, please let us or your branch representative know. Every little bit counts!


Click here for more information about this project