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Big idea: Why is the Dunedin Chinese Garden important to me?

Approximate duration: 2 lessons

Key competencies

  • Thinking
  • Relating to others

Effective teaching

  • Creating a supportive learning environment
  • Making connections to prior learning and experience

Links to social inquiry processes

  • Finding out information  
  • Exploring values and perspectives

Conceptual understandings/learning intentions:  Today we are learning that...

(Level 1) Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experiences to:

  • understand how the past is important to people.

Key understandings:

  • It is a permanent and significant commemoration of the contribution of the early Chinese settlers who arrived in Otago.
  • Dunedin has a close sister relationship with Shanghai.
  • This is the only authentic Chinese garden in the Southern Hemisphere and is one of only four that can be found outside China.

Activity 1

Who am I? This is a way to introduce the unit on the Chinese Garden to the students. You can share the questions with the students in verbal or written form and get them to come up with their ideas about what you are studying. The questions refer to The Chinese Garden.

  • I am situated down near the Early Settlers Museum.
  • I sometimes hold celebrations here.
  • I have fish swimming in the water.
  • People came from China to construct me.
  • I was built in China.
  • I am very important to Dunedin.
  • Lots of people come to visit me.
  • There are only three others outside China.

The students could then guess where it is.

Activity 2

Brainstorm what the students already know about the Chinese Garden. You may like to use a KWL chart. This will be also useful as an assessment tool at the end of the unit.

What do you already know about the Chinese Garden?

What do you want to find out when you visit the Chinese Garden?

What did you learn at the Chinese Garden?


Activity 3

Photo activity:
Place the following photos around the room and invite the students to look closely at what they can see in the pictures. The younger students may give an oral response in groups, while older students could write their ideas on paper. Remember to remind the students to write their name with their comment. Below are some possible questions you could place next to any of the photos:

Click here to download the photos.

  • Write a title for this picture.
  • What is the person at the front of the picture doing?
  • What can you see in the background of the picture?
  • Where do they sleep?
  • Why are these people sitting down?
  • What does that writing say?
  • How do they cook their food?
  • What work do these people do?

This would then lead to a discussion on the early settlers in Dunedin and why they are a very important part of Dunedin’s heritage.

Background information

In 1864 many Chinese workers arrived in Dunedin to make money on the gold fields and send it home to their families.

The work was very hard and very few women came.

The workers were very homesick for their families. 

When the gold rush finished, many of the Chinese stayed and their families came to settle here. 

At the time, some of the Chinese got new jobs in market gardening, laundries, fruit shops and fish and chip shops. Now this has changed and many of the Chinese in Dunedin have very important jobs, such as the Mayor of Dunedin.

School Journals on the early Chinese settlers

  • Part 2 Number 3 1994 Chinese Rock Dwellings
  • Part 4 Number 4 1988 Discovering Chinatown
  • Part 4 Number 2 2003 Following the Gold
  • Part 1 Number 3 1981 Mr Schieb – Gold Miner
  • Part 3 Number 3 1979 A Coat of Gold (Reading age 8–9)
  • Part 3 Number 2 1992 Buried in the Snow (Reading age 8.5–9.5)
  • Part 2 Number 2 1990 Lucky or Unlucky (Reading age 9.5–10.5)

Activity 4

Question activity

Prepare the questions that the students have written in their KWL for their tour of the gardens.

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