A brush with the past at Ng King working bee

An enthusiastic group met at the Ng King Brothers Chinese Market Garden Settlement in Ashburton on 17 February, armed with paintbrushes, buckets of stain and whitewash.


Volunteers prepare the Ng King kitchen and school room for painting.
Work starts on the kitchen and school room block.expand/collapse

Staff from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga’s Christchurch office, members of Ng King families and volunteers from Ashburton District Council and Resene Paint came together to paint the newly repaired and partially rebuilt buildings on the site.

Resene Paints generously donated black stain, whitewash and oil for painting and preserving the timber buildings.

HNZPT Conservation Advisor, Francesca Bradley, has been working with Resene representative Melanie Tracy to source the correct paint products.

“This is a complex site as we want to preserve the patina of this heritage site, but also conserve the timbers so the local community can enjoy this reserve for many years to come. Resene has been incredible with their sponsorship and we have really appreciated Melanie’s advice on sourcing the perfect products for the job,” she says.

Arlene Baird from Era Consulting coordinated the event: “People really enjoyed the process of painting these historic buildings. Everyone worked so hard and we were thrilled with how much we achieved. Work on this site has always been characterized by amazing collaboration and this event was no different,” she said.

The Ng King Brothers Chinese Market Garden operated from the early 1920s until 1964. It quickly grew to be the largest Chinese market garden in the South Island. By the late 1940s there were about 12 houses in the settlement and at least 80 people living on site. Now the Ng King families have handed over stewardship of the site to Ashburton District Council so it can become a community reserve.

- Rosemary Baird