Going West

 Chinese on the West Coast 

Where Are We Going?

Traces Can Be Seen Today


Where Chinese Lived



Going West

Going West is an ongoing personal project addressing my identity exploration with the landscape in the West Coast, New Zealand. It could also serve as a documentary of the historical sites in this region that used to have communities or workings during the gold rush in the 19th Century.


Human beings have spent thousands of years to find out who we are, and where we are goingI am not an exception.


Living alone in another country with a different culture, exploring my identity has been an inevitable part of my practice. The landscape of the West Coast has its metaphorical aspects, or works as a signifier for me when the land is viewed as a repository of the pioneers' memories - hence I could immerse myself in the landscape and listen to the early settlers' answers to the old questions.


In 2015, when I was struggling with depression, I came across the history of the Chinese in the West Coast of New Zealand. The resonance I had with their stories led to this project. They were thousands of miles away from their hometown in Punyu (Panyu), withstanding the harsh environment to make a living, and grew into the largest group of minorities on the Coast in the 1870s. I have been travelling from site to site where the Chinese used to live and work, and photographing the traces of their life in the human-impacted landscape.


For the catalogue of the communities, please visit the following site:



To learn more about the gold, timber, coal, Maori and aviation history of the West Coast at the many heritage sites on the West Coast, please visit Tourism West Coast: http://www.westcoast.co.nz/about/heritage-history/


Or you might be interested in Caroline McQuarrie's No Town Project, which focuses on the mining community sites on the West Coast: http://thenotownproject.org


Yichen Hu 
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Going West
Yichen Hu