George Lun 吳持慎 ONZM
Tien Sum village 田心村
4 April 1921 – 14 January 2019
George Lun 吳持愩, affectionately known as Uncle George made a lasting impression on all he met with his wonderful sense of humour and endearing way of making people laugh. He was born in Feilding NZ, the oldest child of You Lun Ng and Shung Lan Foo. As a two- and a ten-year-old, George made two trips with his parents to China, in 1923 and 1931, where they lived in the family village, Tien Sum. He attended a private Chinese school with his younger sister Elsie and cousins. When he came to New Zealand, the surname Lun was adopted as his father Ng You Lun which was anglicised to Lun by the then authorities when he arrived in New Zealand.
For such a well-known figure, George started from humble beginnings. Returning to NZ in 1926 his parents ran their first fruit shop in Stratford. Then in 1938, when Japan invaded China, George returned to NZ with his cousins, and worked in his uncle‘s, Ng You Wah, fruit shop in Kimbolton Road, Feilding. In 1939 when his father returned to NZ, they set up a fruit shop in Manchester Street Feilding.
In 1941, George married Wong King Foon 黃勤寬 (Betty), from Bak Shek 白石村, who arrived in NZ in 1940 as a refugee and lived in Christchurch with her parents. A match-maker "arranged" their marriage which was held at the Baptist Church and the first Chinese wedding in Feilding. Through hard work and long hours, they became successful fruiterers. When competing supermarkets began to edge out fruit shops, George and Betty sold the premises and happily retired in 1984 to Palmerston North. Sadly, Betty passed away in 1990 but George managed to enjoy a full and active life with his increasing circle of family, friends and good neighbours. George‘s interests included collecting coins and stamps, dancing, singing and making people happy. But his passion was his family, food, especially frequent at Chinese banquets and yum cha at various Chinese restaurants, supporting the Chinese community and playing mahjong.
George was a valuable and active member of the Chinese Association (NZCA) and served on the Manawatu Branch (MCA) executive from 1967 to 2012. He took on role of treasurer in 1972 and became President in the early 1990s to 2004. He represented the MCA at many National Conferences; was the Principal of the Chinese School, hall caretaker and groundsman; organised Chinese movies and fund-raising dinners; supervised the building of the existing hall at 96 Napier Road; and was involved with the Tai Chi group and Dance school. At Chinese fund-raising dinners, he was famous for his skill of making perfect fish balls. In later years George participated in the MCA programme for its older members. He was also a financial member of the Tung Jung Association in Wellington.
George attended many public functions in the Manawatu and Wellington areas. He was presented with the NZ Chinese Association Honorary Award Certificate in 2009 in recognition of his significant and dedicated service to the Chinese Association.
His lifetime contribution to the Chinese community was publicly acknowledged when he was named in the 1998 Queen‘s Birthday honours list and awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). His investiture at Government House was one of George‘s proudest moments and after he was presented his medal in his typical style, turned around and waved to the onlookers with a big grin.
George has also featured in several public exhibitions including Ni Hao! at the Manawatu Museum in 1999 which explored origins of various cultural groups in the Manawatu; Warwick Smith‘s photographic exhibition "Same Difference‘ in 2011 at Square Edge which depicted a portrait of George with his great grandson; and in Te Manawa‘s 2012" Journeys‘ which recalled migrants to the Manawatu, which featured a popular video clip of George talking candidly about migrant life in Feilding and Palmerston North.
Sadly, George passed away on 14 January 2019 after 97 fruitful years. In lieu of flowers, donations for the MCA raised over $4,300.00 – a fitting tribute to a well-respected, kind and generous man. His legacy will be long remembered by fond memories and a myriad of stories reflecting his wonderful personality and ability to make people smile.
George‘s funeral was held at the Terracehaven Chapel in Main Street, Palmerston North on the 18th January 2019 and was attended by numerous friends and relatives. He is buried at Kelvin Grove Cemetery in Palmerston North.
George is survived by his 10 children – Mary Young, Allan Lun, Shirley Lowe, Sylvia Young, Stanley Lun, Maria Funakoshi, Janet Munday, Diana Young, Stephen Lun and Lisa Lun; and has 22 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; and sister Elsie Wong.
(Written by Diana Young)
- ↑ Tung Jung Association of NZ. (2019). Newsletter - Autumn 2019.
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