One of Sam’s boys, Colin, and I went to Parnell Primary School, later going on to Auckland Grammar, and we are still friends today.
This kind and humble family were the first Chinese people I’d ever met as a kid. In later years they continued to be good community model citizens and like any and all good Kiwi citizens, they helped to forge the bedrock foundation that makes Aotearoa what it is today – vibrant, cosmopolitan, well-educated, generous, multicultural, and one of the most desired countries in the world – a place where people the world over wish they could live.
New Zealand society is made up of good, honest and hard-working Kiwi citizens like the Fongs, who were genuinely kind-hearted and lovely people, well-liked and respected, admired for their simple generosity and kindness to all who came to know them – especially the rascally local kids like me and my friends.
On the other side of Parnell Road was Mr Bhula and his lovely wife and family, and their son Prakash, who also attended the same class and schools as I did.
So I pretty much grew up in a typical Kiwi multicultural Parnell society, where we all happily co-existed together in a mutual harmony of Kiwi brotherhood: Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Jewish, European (from Russia, Yugoslavia, France, etc), pakeha, a multitude of Polynesians from Pasifika, especially Cook Islanders (my father’s family and friends), and finally my very own tangata whenua, my mum’s Maori whanau.
Yes, it was all good! I have happy and fond memories as a youngster growing up in Parnell – memories that I will forever hold dear and treasure.
Sam Fong and his family were embraced by our small community, and they worked hard to provide an economic living and future for their family, no different to our own efforts to provide for our own families.
Being the first Chinese-Kiwi family that I had the privilege of knowing as a kid, and growing up with them to adulthood, the Fong family were no different to all the other “Parnellians” who made up my community.
In contrast, fast-forward to 2018, when we have the new modern-day Chinese who are taking the world by storm with their “chequebook diplomacy”, openly assisted by a student of Karl Marx, their Chinese leader president Xi Jinping, who embraces communism, capitalism, Marxism and a Chinese Economic Silk Road Plan that is causing controversy around the world.
This new, modern-day Chinese economic juggernaut is causing deep alarm and concern to many countries.
It’s mystifying as to what is motivating the China of today to inflict economic debt entrapment on so many developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and now, in Pasifika.
From what I have been told, it appears China has plans for our Te Ipukarea paradise, with a bold “out of sight, out of mind” push for the development of Manihiki’s black pearl industry, paua and rori (sea cucumber) aquaculture development, fish farming, etc.
And I have been told they have even bigger plans for our northern-most Tongareva (Penrhyn) – redevelopment of black pearl farming, aquaculture, a fishing hub for all the Chinese longliners, tourism…the list goes on.
However, I believe the Chinese will never be accepted into Manihiki, Tongareva, Rakahanga, Pukapuka, Nassau, Palmerston and Suwarrow to enrich themselves, causing huge debt entrapment for us.
Like Wilkie Rasmussen said regarding the proposed development of Penryhn: “Over my dead body!” I agree with him.