Home Far From Home

From the vast oriental land they sailed
from coastal regions packed with villages
starving from the ravages of warring
greedy landlords and their armies.
Thin hungry men fanned out to
distant gold rushes around the Pacific
desperate for gold for their families.

They came to this island country in its
gold rush 150 years ago, panning gold
sending it home. After the gold ended
they stayed on, for they still earned a
living, sent money home, though the
white foreigners persecuted them often.

Some orientals died in this distant land
far from their families who should tend
their graves, bring offerings each year on
the day of the ancestors, the hungry ghosts.
Coffins of embalmed dead were stored
over many years for  the day living
kinsmen could ship them back home
for their families to bury and tend.

At last the day came, the coffins set
sail. A few days later a violent storm
buried ship, crew, and coffins at sea.
Breaking up on the seabed the ship’s
timbers released many coffins to float
to a shore sparsely peopled by its
original settlers’ descendants who
buried these seaborne strangers.

A hundred years later oriental descendants
remembering childhood rumours
searched and enquired up to the far
north, found the descendants of those
who had buried their ancestors,
found their ancestors’ graves. In full
Polynesian ceremony two worlds met.

At last the ancestors, the hungry ghosts
are tended each year by descendants
in the home far from home
at the end of the world.

Previously posted May 2017.

Home Far From Home

8 thoughts on “Home Far From Home

    1. Thank you, and yes it is true. Chinese are still a minority here in New Zealand. They first started arriving here in the 1860’s, and experienced a lot of racist prejudice which did not start to ease off until the 1950’s.


    1. Yes it is. I wrote this in 2017, so the publicity in our news media and in TV programmes must have been earlier that year or late 2016. The research was carried out by a New Zealander of Chinese descent. He was / is a lecturer at Otago University and was assisted by some of his students there. The Chinese first settled on the gold rush fields of Otago in the 1860’s, and some of his ancestors were among them. It was fascinating to read and watch about their searches. The meeting of the Chinese descendants with the descendants of the Maori on the coast of the far north, and their ceremonies was very powerful to watch on the TV programme. Obviously the Maori in the 1860’s had no idea of where the coffins came from, so they buried them in the sand dunes or close by to where they landed. They just could not leave anonymous coffins on the beach. Meanwhile their land wars with the white settlers created chaos around them in the North Island. So they had no way of finding out where the coffins came from.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it was SS Ventnor. I googled it too. The articles in wikipedia, http://www.stuff.co.nz and asiamediacentre.org.nz are all excellent. The name of the the Maori tribe who found and buried the Chinese bodies has been misspelt in some instances. The correct spelling is Te Rarawa.


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