Ye­ung was de­voted to Hamil­ton

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - THOMAS MANCH

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.

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