Sue Shee. A Woman from Zhong Shan: Her Life and Legacy
A film documentary about the intriguing and influential life story of Sue Shee.
The Pearl River Delta area of Guang Zhou was invaded by Japanese troops in 1938, at 37 years of age Ho Sue Shee with her daughter Ho Bick Wun (11 years old), fled from their village in Gum Kay, Zhong Shan to the safety of Macau.
In 1939 the New Zealand Government had agreed to allow Chinese married men to bring their wives and children to New Zealand as war refugees on two-year temporary permits subject to provision of adequate housing and a 200 pound bond. Between 1939 and 1941, 250 wives and 245 children were allowed into New Zealand as war refugees.
Grandfather, Ho Chew Chong (a poll tax payer), a greengrocer of Broadway, Newmarket was able to borrow money for the bond and pay the fare to enable his family to come to New Zealand. On 27 November 1939, Ho Sue Shee and Ho Bick Wun (along with other Chinese women and children), arrived in Auckland on the “Aorangi” from Hong Kong via Sydney.
They were reunited as a family, lived in Newmarket and began to build a new and rather uncertain life during the war years when her residence status along with those of her children along with other war refugee families was of a temporary nature. Sue Shee was granted permanent residence in 1947. Much to her regret in later years, she allowed her daughter to be married and return to Hong Kong before she was aware that residency was to be granted. She had also anticipated that the whole family would return to China in a matter of a few years. Due to political events in China this did not happen.
Unable to speak English and unable to read and write in her own language, this Chinese woman through her determination, strength and business acumen built strong networks with Chinese market gardeners from other districts of Guang Dong. She was a woman pioneer in the market-gardening business becoming successful with no initial resources or assets. She was an influential person in the Zhong Shan Clan, her home was a focal point for weekly get togethers, and celebrations. She provided assistance in money and advice to old timers and new arrivals. She raised and home-birthed four children; ran a successful fruit shop and market garden; and instilled a strong sense of ‘being Chinese’ in her children and grandchildren. She died at the age of 91after 53 years in New Zealand.
- Ho Sue Shee part 1 (17 minutes, 38MB)
- Ho Sue Shee part 2 (17 minutes, 37MB)
- Ho Sue Shee part 3 (3 minutes, 6.3MB)