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Invercargill Sub Branch


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By Margaret Young

The Invercargill Sub Branch of OSCA was officially formed in May 2004.

In 2003, Terence Wong identified a need to form a group to run activities and provide a support network for the Chinese in living in Southland when he discovered that most of the Chinese living in Invercargill did not respond to a newsletter/membership drive initiative sent out by OSCA. Many of the Chinese in the south felt that most of the OSCA activities were Dunedin based and too far away for them to take part.

At the same time, Philip Chan also felt that something should be set up for the Chinese in the Southland area.

Terence and Philip decided to call a meeting in the hope of finding people likely to have the time, commitment and skills to form a committee. Only a small number of people turned up to that meeting and a committee was formed comprising of Terence and his wife (Sue), Philip and his wife (Penny) plus 4 others (Jim Wong, Hong Zhang, Emmeline Lo and Margaret Young).

It was obvious from the start that the pool of people available to help on the committee would be small as most of the Southland Chinese were not free to attend meetings due to their work commitments in restaurants and takeaway shops.

The Committee quickly realized that if they were to operate successfully they would need support and help from outside Invercargill. They unanimously decided that the best course would be to stay as part of OSCA and operate as a satellite from within the parent branch.

Peter & Janice Sew Hoy, Teresa Chan, David Lai, Hector Wong and Wayne Chin willingly gave their time and expertise to Terence and the committee in the formation of the Invercargill Sub-Branch. Months of consultation, emails, meetings and positive support from members of the OSCA Committee resulted in a brand new set of rules for the Invercargill Sub-Branch to operate under.

A Sub-Branch newsletter/membership drive resulted in 130 people joining. The first year was a busy one where the Committee managed to organise a special Yum Cha lunch/fundraiser, English classes for adults, Chinese classes and basketball for the children.

By far the most popular Sub-Branch event is the annual Chinese New Year Barbecue lunch. It is an opportunity for the Chinese Community to gather together socially. Usually members of the main OSCA Committee come down and join in the celebrations. Whenever possible they have brought the Lion Dance Troupe with them as well as the tug o’ war rope for the annual Dunedin vs Invercargill challenge.

Other activities organised by the Sub-Branch include Moon Festival dinners, other fundraising dinners and lunches.

In 2007 Terence & Sue Wong moved away from Invercargill to live in Australia. Their departure had big impact on the Sub-Branch which was losing its Chairman and Secretary. There was serious doubt on whether or not the Sub-Branch could continue to operate with an even smaller committee. At an emergency meeting there was a reshuffle of jobs and Jim Wong took over as Chairman.

Activities of interest in 2008 included Security in Business Workshops for takeaway/restaurant owners (in conjunction with the police, multi nations and settlement support) and a busload of members traveled up to Dunedin for the day to see the Chinese Garden and the Otago Museum’s Shanghai Dragon Exhibition.

The bonds between the Sub Branch and the main OSCA Branch are strong and the Southland members have been encouraged to take part in some of the Dunedin activities. Members of the Sub-Branch Committee have been included with OSCA to attend NZCA Conferences and in 2008 two members from Invercargill attended the NZCA Leadership Conference. On the social and sporting side of activities, OSCA has welcomed the Sub-Branch children to join their basketball teams in some of the South Island tournaments and two of the younger members of the Sub-Branch Committee (Lin Zhuo and Xing Dong Yan) attended the 2008 OSCA Camp.

At present the Sub-Branch is in good heart and members keep renewing their subs. Jim continues to be Chairman and the Committee has grown in number with the new people bringing their skills, ideas and enthusiasm to the mix.

January 2009