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Gum Sarn: Evolving Notions of the ‘Sweet Earth’

August 19, 2017 @ 2:00 pm - September 6, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

Gum Sarn: Evolving Notions of the ‘Sweet Earth’ celebrates the recent history (1900s onwards) of Chinese in New Zealand through photographs, ephemera and a cultural map of Auckland.

The Chinese people have often referred to New Zealand as ‘Gum Sarn’ when describing where relatives or friends have gone to. Translating to ‘Gold Mountain’ 金山, it is grounded in reality, as travellers in the late 19th Century were literally searching for gold in the mines of Otago, California and British Columbia. As time passed and many travellers settled, the term ‘Gum Sarn’ has become imbued with new meanings for different generations. To say someone has gone to ‘Gum Sarn’ could mean they have gone in pursuit of new opportunities.

A participatory exhibition, Gum Sarn: Evolving Notions of the ‘Sweet Earth’ consists of contributions from various generations of New Zealand Chinese. It will feature photographs and ephemera, such as poll tax certificates, old Chinese restaurant menus, images of the Oriental Markets and more. There will also be a large map of Auckland which will be pinned with historical and contemporary places of significance, from the Chinatown on Grey’s Avenue in the 1920s to the Orient Restaurant of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Gum Sarn will examine the opportunities that have been explored and created by New Zealand Chinese, and the way they have shaped New Zealand’s unique culture, from food, horticulture and more. The exhibition will build awareness and appreciation, and showcase aspects of a culture which enriches and is integral to New Zealand life.

Image: Wong Hop hitting beans to get the seeds out. Photo courtesy of Sewmoy Wing.

Saturday 19 August – Wednesday 6 September


Main Gallery

Opening Saturday 19 August, 2 – 3:30pm

Dim Sim and Moon Cakes will be served at the opening

Many thanks to the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust and the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for funding this exhibition.


August 19, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
September 6, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
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