November 19, 2014
Ventnor project a shared tale of grief
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis believes finding a ship which sank carrying the bodies of Chinese workers back to their homeland is important for both countries.
A team led by Auckland man John Albert has identified a wreck on the sea floor 21km west of Hokianga Harbour as being the SS Ventnor, which sank in October 1902.
On board were 13 crew and the bodies of 499 Chinese nationals, most of whom had died while working on the Otago goldfields.
Mr Albert has been talking with New Zealand and Chinese officials about the project with the aim of bringing to a close a chapter in the country’s history.
Mr Davis says it's a great Chinese story with a Maori side.
"Remains were washed ashore and tribespeople from Te Roroa and Te Rarawa tribes gathered them up and buried them, and have tended those remains for 112 years, so there is that relationship already, that connection between Maori of the north and China," he says.
Mr Davis says the Ventnor connection may give more Chinese visitors a reason to come north, particularly from Guangdong province where the miners came from.
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