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Chinese market garden heritage park opening

Chinese market garden heritage park opening
The Ng King Brothers Chinese Market Garden Settlement will be formally opened on Sunday and then opens to the public on Monday.

After 16 long years, the former site of Ashburton's Chinese market garden settlement finally opens as a community heritage park on Sunday.

The official opening is an invite-only affair and the site will then be open to the public from Monday.

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown has described the site as an “outdoor museum” where the community can learn more about the history of Chinese pioneers in Ashburton.

The market garden settlement on Allens Road operated from the early 1920s until 1964, and was the largest Chinese community in the South Island during that time.

The around 2.3-hectare site remains home to a group of historic buildings and facilities that have been stabilised to stop further deterioration.

The project was born in 2008 when one of the group of owners, Yep Ng, worked with other family members to have the settlement come under council management.

Representatives of the descendants of the Ng King settlers, the Ashburton District Council and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga will be at the opening, with around 300 people expected to attend.

Upoko o Te Rūnaka o Arowhenua Te Wera King will bless the site during the opening.

Landscaping has been completed and the fencing around the site will be removed just before the formal opening.

To coincide with the opening, the Ashburton Museum is set to unveil a new exhibition on February 26.

The exhibition A New Era: Ng King Bros. Chinese Market Garden Settlement celebrates the history of the site and the restoration project that worked over 15 years towards the site re-opening as a public reserve this month.

By Jonathan Leask