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In the early days of Chinese settlement in Wellington, they generally settled in the area encompassing Haining and Frederick Streets [1], and Sages Lane, was often referred to as the "Celestial Quarter"[2] "Chinatown"[3] or "Chinese Quarter"[4][5]

The area gained a notorious reputation for being "a Chinese-infested pit of opium and gambling"[6] and home to "white slave traders"[7], although in 1896, Police Inspector Doyle wrote: "In some of the houses opium was being smoked and gambling was going on ... [but] I must say that I visit these places at least once every month and I have seen nothing whatever to justify the sensational rumours that ... Chinese houses are dens of infamy."[6]

Author Alison Wong's fictional novel "As the Earth Turns to Silver" provides a fictional account of life for Chinese living and working in and around Wellington's Chinatown during the early 1900s.[8]

This area is considered by the Wellington City Council as significant to Wellington's heritage[9], however only three original 'Chinatown' buildings remain, all on Frederick Street[7], these being:


  1. Alex Fensome. (2014, December 1). Chinese settlers sparked some sensational rumours. Retrieved 8 August 2017, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/63695117/chinese-settlers-sparked-some-sensational-rumours
  2. NZ TRUTH, ISSUE 405, 29 MARCH 1913 https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTR19130329.2.32
  3. http://wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz/buildings/1-150/124-chinese-mission-hall?q=
  4. ANOTHER RAID ON CHINESE QUARTERS,Wanganui Chronicle, Volume 17, Issue 15000, 17 November 1900 http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WC19001117.2.25
  5. Manying Ip, 'Chinese - Later settlement', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/511/haining-street-wellington updated 25 Mar 2015 (accessed 4 April 2017)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Alex Fensome. (2014, December 1). Chinese settlers sparked some sensational rumours. Retrieved August 8, 2017, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/63695117/chinese-settlers-sparked-some-sensational-rumours
  7. 7.0 7.1 Shelton, L. (2009, January 12). How Wellington’s buildings tell our story. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0901/S00141/how-wellingtons-buildings-tell-our-story.htm
  8. Wong, A. (2009). As the Earth Turns Silver. Penguin Books (NZ).
  9. Wellington City Council. (2013). Thematic Heritage Study of Wellington. Retrieved 8 November 2017, from https://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/services/community-and-culture/heritage/files/thematic-heritage-study.pdf?la=en

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