• AWNS-19010905-2-2 – courtesy of Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

Chinese fruit shops and laundries on the North Shore

In my ‘The North Shore; an illustrated history’ (2010), still available in local libraries and second hand bookshops, I devoted two pages to the early Chinese community on the North Shore.   The earliest I could trace was from the 1916 census, with 11 Chinese men in Takapuna and two in Devonport.   From that time to the 1940s, Chinese horticulturalists leased land from the Catholic Church in the Raleigh, Ocean View and Lake Roads area, and also at Barrys Point and Bayswater.

From ‘Northcote’s past’ (1986), I identified Willy Wong who farmed in the Lake and Ocean View Road area and who sold vegetables at first from shoulder baskets and later from a horse and cart. There was also Joey Wong who sold vegetables from a truck and then later from a shop at the corner of Duke and Queen Streets in Northcote in the 1920s. Jung (Jack) Chong (Chan Him Chong) managed a fruit shop from at least January 1939 on Lake Road, between Byron Avenue and Northcroft Street, to 1960.
In 2018, Ruth Lam, Beverly Lowe, Helen Wong, Michael Wong and Carolyn King published ‘The fruits of our labours; Chinese fruit shops in New Zealand’. They note that in December 1913 Wing On’s Devonport fruit shop was involved in a fire, making it the first identifiable Chinese fruit shop on the North Shore.
Similarly, Joanna Boileau’s ‘Starch work by experts; Chinese laundries in Aotearoa New Zealand' (2019) noted Fong Gung’s laundry around December 1909 and Joe Fong Lee’s laundry from 1908 to 1917, both in Victoria Road, Devonport. Fong Tom had a laundry at 67 Victoria Road from around 1913 to 1926 and then at 23 Victoria Road from around 1927 to 1930, when he moved to Lake Road. C.W. Hoo Kee managed a fruit shop at 55 Victoria Road, Devonport, from 18 December 1923 to 1925, followed by Wah Shang from 1928 to 1928.
Wong Sing ran a laundry at the corner of Bracken Avenue and Lake Road from 1924 to 1925 and was followed by Wong Fong who ran both a fruit shop and laundry on the premises, from 1925 to 1929. Wong Mor had a fruit shop in Jutland Road in 1931, while Lan Hing & Co had a laundry in Lake Road from 1935 to 1941.   Wong Kam (Wong Yuk Mun, 1892-1960) managed fruit shops from 1940 to 1998 in King Edward Avenue, Belmont.
Post-war social and economic changes reduced the numbers of Chinese laundries, but fruit shops continued. In Birkenhead, Young Ching’s fruit shop was at 6 Mokoia Road from 1955 to 1960 and Loo Pak Chou from 1958 to 1966 at 3 Birkenhead Avenue. Henry Chong’s fruit shop was at 13 Pearn Crescent in Northcote from 1963 to 1970, Ching Brothers at the same address from 1970 to 1994, and then L. & M. Chong from 1997 to 2000.
In Devonport, G.Y. Luey’s fruit shop was at 45 Victoria Road from 1946 to 1958, followed by Young Fruit from 1960 to 1969 and then C.M. Lowe (Lowe Chung Moon) from 1969 to 1974. Wah Shang was at Vauxhall Road from around 1951 to 1960. In Takapuna, Chong Brothers was at 457 Lake Road from 1961 to 1978, followed by the Takapuna Fruit Centre from 1985 to 1988. Manon Shack was at 85 Francis Street from 1974 to 1975 and there was Vege City in Takapuna Village from 1992 to 1993. IE Produce has been at 1 Barrys Point Road since 1994.
In Milford, C.S. On Lee had a fruit shop in Milford from at least September 1924 to May 1925 and also acted as a receiving agent for laundry. Later, the Milford Fruit Shop was at 6 Milford Road from 1954 to 1960 at 6 Milford Road, Ivan Lowe was in Kitchener Road in 1956, Ng Fruit Mart was at 210 Kitchener Road from 1965 to 1981, while L. Ng Fruit Centre was at 19 Kitchener Road from 1986 to 1987.
East Coast Bays Fruiterers were at 32 Clyde Road in Browns Bay from 1971 to 1976, Glenfield Mall Fruit was there from 1972 to 1980, Mairangi Bay Fruit was in Beach Road from 1959 into the 1960s and Johnny Mok was in Beach Road from the 1960s to the 1970s.

By David Verran

Issue 114 October-November 2020