Roots must be nur­tured

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Iden­tity is very im­por­tant to Richard Le­ung. It’s the rea­son why he puts so much time into pro­mot­ing his cul­ture.

Re­ceiv­ing a Kiwi Bank Lo­cal He­roes award was a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence, he says.

He’s the chair­man of the New Zealand Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion Auck­land branch as well as the as­so­ci­a­tion’s na­tional vice pres­i­dent and a trustee of the Chi­nese Poll Tax Her­itage Trust.

‘‘You’ve got to know where you come from,’’ he says.

‘‘Our as­so­ci­a­tion helps peo­ple keep their Chi­nese iden­tity while also be­ing New Zealan­ders.’’

The One Tree Hill res­i­dent is the com­mit­tee chair­man for the NZCA Easter Sports Tour­na­ment.

The event has been ro­tated around the four main cen­tres for the past 66 years. Le­ung has been a par­tic­i­pant since he was 15.

‘‘I play with guys I’ve com- pe­ted against right through the age grades. You just re­new the old bat­tles you used to have when you were younger.’’

The tour­na­ments have been a great com­mu­nity build­ing block, the 47-yearold says.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple meet their life part­ners there. Some fam­i­lies are up to their third or fourth gen­er­a­tion of at­tend­ing.’’

One of his aims is to ed­u­cate new mi­grants about the long his­tory the Chi­nese have had in New Zealand.

Le­ung or­gan­ised an NZCA event to mark the 75th an­niver­sary of Chi­nese refugees in New Zealand on Oc­to­ber 12.

‘‘I had a lot of peo­ple come up to me dur­ing the day and said they hadn’t heard th­ese sto­ries from their par­ents.

‘‘I sup­pose it would’ve been too raw for them to talk about up till then.’’

NZCA also runs a Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment Con­fer­ence.

It’s a five-day event for Chi­nese New Zealan­ders aged 18 to 30 and there’s also a week­end camp for se­nior high school stu­dents.

It’s about pro­vid­ing in­spi­ra­tion, Le­ung says.

‘‘A lot of th­ese kids are sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion New Zealan­ders so they are los­ing their con­nec­tion with their iden­tity. This helps draw them back,’’ he says.

Strong links: Richard Le­ung is pas­sion­ate about keep­ing young peo­ple con­nected to their Chi­nese roots.

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