Yeung was devoted to Hamilton
Philip Yeung will be remembered as a champion for diversity and for improving the lives of Hamiltonians.
The East Ward councillor died at his Hamilton home on Saturday after a short battle with cancer. His wife, Alice, and their daughter, Jeannie, were by his side. He was 60.
He had been serving his second term, having first been elected to Hamilton City Council in 2013. He had previously served on council staff as the ethnic development adviser.
The family asked for privacy. A private cremation is planned. The city is planning a public service.
Settlement Centre Waikato co-ordinator Patricia Novoa first met Yeung when he spoke at a work-placement course at the centre. He would share his own story as a migrant, encouraging others to be proud of who they were and to be good citizens of New Zealand, she said.
Yeung, pictured right, could be found taking photos, making jokes and meeting people at every community event.
Yeung was a good friend to Novoa. He even attended her son’s birthday party.
‘‘Thanks must go to his beautiful wife, Alice, for sharing her husband, because he was devoted to people. He had a beautiful pillar behind him - she was so supportive of his passion.’’
Novoa helped organise Saturday’s 14th Festival de la Primavera, a spring celebration held by members of the Spanish speaking community, where Yeung was sorely missed.
‘‘To hear the news [on Saturday] was really hard, but we decided to continue because that’s what he loved. He just loved being on the ground with people, talking to people, having that contact.’’
Yeung was born in 1956 and raised in Hong Kong with four siblings in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the city.
The family’s livelihood depended on machine knitting and selling of the garments produced, and Yeung and his older brother would deliver the garments using push trolleys around Hong Kong.
He attended Hong Kong Polytechnic after high school and received a diploma in textiles before a couple of years of sales work.
He then studied for a certificate in tourism and worked in that industry for 16 years. The one-year tourism course was where he met his wife, Alice. The couple moved to New Zealand in 1996 with daughter Jeannie.
Yeung worked as an interpreter in Hamilton, providing expertise in English, Cantonese and Mandarin at Waikato Hospital and the police.
A by-election would be held for Yeung’s Hamilton East seat.