Drabble, Don

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Interview. Virginia Winder talks with Don Drabble at his home in Eltham on September 2nd 2002. Don talks of his research into Chew Chong for his book , including his own childhood memories of exploring the water race for the Jubilee Dairy factory.
Recorded as part of research for the Taranaki Information Network and stories published on the Puke Ariki Website www.pukeariki.com

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  Part 1

Research tape. Interview of 60 min.

0.1 Interviewing Don Drabble about Chew Chong

0.2 Don's interest in Chong arose because he was associated with Eltham. Don resided next door to Chong's factory site and as a child (1939 - 1944) explored the factory's underground water-race. It was only in 1982 that the end of the water-race was found.

3.2 Don gives the names of friends he took on a guided tour of the water-race. He

describes the race, its use and motive power.

5.2 Chew Chong and other Chinese immigrants came from Southern China to Australia California and New Zealand. Don gives reasons for Chong's emigration and describes some outstanding qualities of this remarkable man.

6.9 Originally Chong set up a shop in Castlemaine, Australia after a short stay in Singapore. In 1866, aged 39, he arrived in New Zealand and established a small business in Dunedin with compatriot Soo Hoy [Choy].

8.6 It is possible that Soo Hoy sent Chong to Taranaki to exploit the rich qualities of fungus growing here. The fungus was exported through Dunedin.

[short pause]

10.3 Chong stayed in the Taranaki Hotel owned by William Cottier in New Plymouth. Don gives details of Chew Chong travelling by horse and cart throughout Taranaki selling goods and purchasing fungus.

11.2 Money was put back into his business. This 'lively little fellow' established great relationships with the farmers. Don describes his personal feelings and empathy with Chew Chong.

12.4 The store on the corner of Currie and Devon Streets. A description based on a photograph of the shop. A wide variety of goods was sold from the shop, a list of items.

15.1 In 1866 the shop was sold to another Chinese, Choy Kee.

15.7 Chong brought butter from Farmers, blended, packed and sold it. A better system of butter manufacture was undertaken and the riverside factory built in Eltham.

A description of the blending process and details of the improved hygiene system including refrigeration that Chong insisted on.

18.5 Refrigeration introduced in 1899 is discussed. Prior to this Chong persuaded the Government to introduce ice in wagons to keep the cream cool whilst being conveyed. He was a visionary in his day and age.

20.8 Amazingly he was the first to pack butter in 1 pound lots later using parchment paper.

21.8 Chong traded in fungus all of his life.

22.4 Don discusses the importance of fungus sales to farmers. It saved many from poverty and helped establish farms.

23.4 Uses of fungus as an edible food. A huge demand for it, most exported to Chinese in other countries. Don has eaten the fungus and describes the flavour.

26.2 Chong lived to be 92, he was very fit, travelled extensively and worked hard.

27.3 He lived in Vogeltown and then in Courtenay Street and walked frequently. He made use of the train which passed his house and crossed Devon Street. Details are given.

29.1 Use of acupuncture particularly during the influenza epidemic of 1893. Chong's services were offered free of charge, anywhere and proved successful in spite of medical opposition. Details are given.

30.9 It is not known where he learned acupuncture.

32.2 Not known where Chong met his wife Elizabeth. A successful marriage that raised a happy family. Don mentions the importance of music and wide ranging household discussions.

  Part 2

Master tape.

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