Chinese in Auckland central isthmus in 1921 and 1945
A local history article about the New Zealand Chinese living in Auckland's central isthmus in 1921 and 1945. By Auckland City Libraries' local history librarian, David Verran.
At the 1921 census, there were 355 Chinese living in what was then Auckland city, focussed around the central business district. There were another 34 living in Newmarket borough, six in Mount Eden, 28 living in Onehunga and six in Otahuhu. Elsewhere, in the rural parts of the central isthmus, including Blockhouse Bay and Mount Roskill, were another 174. The total numbers of Chinese in New Zealand had been declining, due to deliberate government policy, since 1881, and most came from southern China.
The Chinese were predominantly male, and covered a range of ages, although mostly were of working age. Only a small proportion owned shops or plots of land, with most males described as ‘wage earners' in market gardens or laundries. Most of the 32 female Chinese on the central isthmus were described as ‘dependents', not working and looking after their families. A few Chinese women nevertheless were running fruit and vegetable shops.
By the time of the 1945 census there had been some shifts. The Chinese were now more often fruiterers, green grocers, or shop assistants. There had also been a shift to South Auckland in terms of residence. Population numbers remained statistically very small, although there were more females than before.