An Aboriginal Chinese family: the Ah Kims

 Ah Kim with his wife Lily (a Gajerong woman) and family, photographed in 1918 in their Muggs Lagoon market garden (Kimberley Historical Society).

This happy picture belies the tragedy that this gardener was to suffer later in life.

Ah Kim was only eleven when he left Hong Kong for the Northern Territory in 1872 to join clan in Darwin. He worked there for 24 years as a market gardener and cook. He settled at Muggs Lagoon (between Wyndham and Kununurra in the Kimberleys, Western Australia) where he worked a market garden and married a local woman, Inje or Lily, in 1908.

When he was 60 he took his 8 year old son Fung Lay to Hong Kong. Two other sons, Tyson and Toon Choi were being educated there.  Fung Lay and Tyson were later killed in a 'Boxer Uprising' there. Toon Choi returned in 1928.

Lemon (Lemmie) and her sisters Orange (Orrie) and Winnie were all taken away from Ah Kim after their mother died. He had cared for them on his own until the Aborigines Department found out about them. They were sent to the half-caste native settlement at Moore River. He never saw them again. 

In 1959, 99 year old Ah Kim wanted to be buried in his garden at Muggs Lagoon, so he dug his own grave, laid down in it and waited for death.

The Ah-Kims are a well established family in Meekathara and Wyndham, Western Australia

                 Edward George Ah Kim c.1928

Lemon Ah Kim's photo was captioned "HALF BLOOD Aboriginal Chinese Girl" in A.O. Neville's 1947 book: Australia's Coloured Minority: Its Place in the Community



Banner image: Twenty-five Chinamen having a meal break outside the Burketown court house in 1894. The mounted border patrol police arrested them when they entered Queensland illegally from the Northern Territory, looking for work. They undertook the hazardous trek on foot when they lost their mining jobs in the Wooloogorang copper mines. Their photo story by Alphonse Chargois was published in the Queenslander 27 October 1900, p. 876 and in the North Queensland Register 22 Oct 1900 p.26

An Aboriginal Japanese family: the Shiosakis

Although resident for many years in the north-west of this State, Japanese were interned for the duration of the war. Yesterday the Shiosaki family of nine and Kotsukyo Nomura (left) returned to this State by train. They will sail shortly by the Koolinda, the Shiosaki family for Broome, where they will reopen their laundry, and Nomura, a pre-war shopkeeper in Carnarvon, for Onslow to become a station cook.

From left to right. Kotsukyu Nomura, Alf Shiosaki, Stella Gibson, Peggy Carlisle, Charles Shiosaki, Margaret Shiosaki nee Beasley. 
2nd Row
Cyril Shiosaki, Ronald Shiosaki, Maurice Shiosaki & Ben Shiosaki.  The last daughter is Irene Nannup. (West Australian Newspaper 3.12.1946 p.8)Image may contain: 7 people

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Maurice Shiosaki
Born: Broome, 1939
Interned: Tatura (Victoria), 1941–46
As a boy interned at Tatura in Victoria, part-Japanese, part-Aboriginal Maurice and his older brothers made kites to pass the time. Standing in the barbed-wire enclosure of the family camp, they released their kites and watched them soar high above them. ‘We used to make our own kites out of bamboo and the paper that apples used to be wrapped in. We made glue out of flour and water. We used sewing cotton for the string.

The older boys used to crush light globes into a powder and mix flour and water in, run the mixture along the string and then dry it out. Then we’d fly our kite,and the boys from the other compounds used to fly theirs—so we’d be standing in different compounds—and we’d go voom! To try to cut their string. That was kite fighting—it was all friendly, though’. Kite fighting was one of many activities Maurice did during the five years he was interned, from the age of two to seven. He also recalls taking part in sumo matches against other kids and occasionally being treated to picnics outside camp grounds. ‘I remember eating hot dogs. We used to go in army trucks out to this lake. It was a nice area—a lot of wildlife. They had big containers to boil hot dogs in.’
The Shiosakis were a family of eight children, so there was never a shortage of playmates for Maurice, who remembers his time at camp fondly. ‘We were treated very well, as far as I can remember… All the time we were there, we were very happy.’ Maurice spent so much time socialising with the other Japanese kids at camp that his Japanese became better than his English. ‘I could talk Japanese A-1 until I left the camp…  [But] I’ve forgotten it all now.’
But the family experienced hardship in other ways. Maurice’s father, Shizuo, owned a laundry business in Broome, but when war broke out with Japan he 

was forced to abandon it. ‘They said, “Pack your things up, you’re going.” That was it… [My father] lost everything,’ Maurice said. When the family was finally released from internment in 1946, they had to start afresh. Maurice’s father found work in Perth doing the laundry at Clontarf Boys Town, then later in Mullewa (WA) working on the railway.
On the day of their release from internment, the Shiosakis farewelled the life they had known for five years and the people they had shared it with. Many of their friends were being sent to Japan against their wishes as, according to government policy, Japanese who weren’t married to British subjects or who didn’t have Australian-born children couldn’t stay in Australia (Nagata 1996, p. 193). ‘The saddest part of all our time at camp was when it was time to leave,’ Maurice said.‘There were rows and rows of army trucks the day we started to move out. Everyone was crying. Everyone was clinging to the fence.’

Oyuki Shiosaki in 1929.

An Aboriginal Japanese: the Kanegaes

Rare preserved photograph from the World War 2 internment camps:

Matsumoto Kanegae, formerly a Broome shopkeeper, in 1942

The Outsider WImage may contain: 1 person, close-upithin p.119: “The Aboriginal wives of Japanese men — who by law took on foreign nationality upon their marriage — were interned with their husbands and mixed-race children. In some cases this meant that shared businesses that had been left behin

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d failed. Christine Choo reports that one Aboriginal woman interned with her husband was Lydia Kanagae, who had been married to Matsumoto Kanagae for 25 years. Matsumoto's request that his wife be released from internment so that she could continue to run their shop was denied. 

Unwanted Aliens by Yuriko Nagata on p.74 to "Yoshi Kanagae, an Australian-born of Japanese-Aboriginal origin, was neither upset nor afraid of being arrested. She said: "Dad was in and Auntie was I was excited to go looking forward to seeing them again." (interviewed Sydney, 22.8.1987 as Y. Nabeshima). 

Yoshi's mother Lydia Kanagae was a Djugun woman from Broome cousin sister of Cecelia Nanagon. Lydia's sons were George aka Ingee,  Mitsu, Yoshi, Subu & Hudsu who drowned at Cable Beach while young. The entire family were interned at Cowra NSW. Both George & Mitsu were sent to Japan. George returned after Hiroshima & later died in Derby. It is unknown what became of Mitsu. Yoshi was living in Greenacre (Sydney) & Subu return to Broome along with Hudsu after release from internment.  Lulu George was strong in his Cultural knowledge for Djugun country (Boome) & apparently both he & his sister spoke fluent Djugun prior to being sent to Japan. George was placed in the Japanese Army school which grieved him no end as he had no desire to raise arms against Aust. Fortunately it didn't happen & he briefly worked in ship building in Nagasaki before returning home.Image may contain: 1 personGeorge "Yengiro Kanagae was 9 when this photo was taken. He left Broome on 25.2.1935 and was a school boy in Nagasaki when Japan entered the War. He later worked in an engineering work shop and was 20 when the War ended. His father, Matsumoto, asked the manager at Streeter and Male to represent him in his request to have his eldest son return to Broome. Permission was granted by Customs for his return in 1949 when he was 24

Five members of the Kanegae family were arrested in Broome on 8.12.1941 immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the USA declaration of war against Japan:
Hatsu (b. Nagasaki, 9.9.1876) was 64 when arrested. She was a widow, and worked as a boarding-house keeper. She was repatriated to Japan, leaving from Melbourne on 21.2.1946. Her younger brother,
Matsutaro (b. Nagasaki, 17.3.1876) was 62. He arrived in Broome on 15.9.1897 as a 19 year old. At the time of arrest he was a storekeeper. He marrieLydia (b. June 1893) who was 47 when she was sent to Tatura internment camp in Victoria with her husband, sister-in law and 2 children:
Shizuyo (b. Broome 8.9. 1918) was a 23 year old housekeeper and eldest sister to
Saburo (b. Broome 4.5.1934) was 6 years old when he joined the other Aboriginal-Japanese at Tatura.

An Aboriginal Chinese family: the Sou Kees

Annie Sou Kee was born on Wondoola Station in North Queensland on 20 April 1895. In December 1916 she  at worked Lawn Hill Station, near Burketown, as a cook's help to her husband, Willie Sou Kee. She left Australia permanently in 1917 with her son Tommy and they never returned to Australia

Image may contain: 1 person.Tommy Sou Kee was 4 months old in 1916 when he left for Hong Kong
Willie was born in Hong Kong on 27 July 1876, and worked as a cook and gardener at Lawn Hill. He traveled back and forth between Hong Kong and Australia on three occasions between 1916 and 1935

An Aboriginal Chinese family : the Ah Sams

Annie Sibley nee Ah Sam and her husband, George Patrick Sibley taken on Palm Island 1937.

Annie was the daughter of Tommy Ah Sam, a Chinaman who worked as a cook and gardener at  Dunbar Station in far north Queensland. Here he met Maggie Croyden, an indigenous woman of the Kurdjan tribe. Tommy and Maggie’s daughter Annie Ah Sam ended up living with George Sibley at Mount Molloy, They had five children. George worked for a local saw mill and as a half-caste was paid directly by the mill. The law at the time dictated that Aborigines could only collect wages via the Chief Protector. George Patrick Sibley was the son of an Englishman and an aboriginal woman, making him a half-caste. He lived in the fringes of Mt. Molloy, Queensland with his family and worked as a lumberman. He was sent to the aboriginal penal colony, together with his wife and five children, for refusing to sign a work agreement (something he was not required to do). His arbitrary removal from his home was a result of the local authorities asserting their power over the indigenous people.

Lucky Charley!

When the largest mass expulsion of people from Australia occurred in 1905, Charley Darresool was not amongst them. Because his wife was Anglo-Aboriginal, this South Sea Islander was allowed to remain in Queensland. The Pacific Islanders' Labourers' Act  exempted her husband from deportation. He and his wife could travel to Pentecost, in the New Hebrides to visit his people and return to Australia using this 1906 Certificate of Exemption from the Dictation Test. Photographed is Charley Darresool, 36, seated next to his Anglo-aboriginal wife with his brother standing

  Image: National Archives Australia, NAA: J3136, 1906/101.

Dressed up in his fine silk blue tunic for this official 1891 portrait is 28 year old Palmerston tailor, King Chow, who worked in one of the many prosperous Chinese businesses in was to become Darwin. He later cooked in camps for cowboys on the vast cattle stations owned by Streeter and Male in the north west of Western Australia. He went to Perth for a much needed eye operation. Later on, in Melbourne, he was granted a fresh re-entry permit. A letter of support from the local clan and his 35 year old South Australian permit established his identity. He embarked for China. He never used this permit to return. Image National Archives of Australia.

An uncomfortable Loo Pon poses here in flash clothes, against a painted rural backdrop. A visit to a city photography studio would have been a singular and daunting experience for Chinese gardeners like this 23 year old, who spent their days working in a co-operative market garden in the outer Melbourne suburbs speaking only dialect Cantonese and living in shared quarters.

When he arrived, the British Empire was at its zenith; its colonies extended from Hong Kong to Victoria. He was then 16 year old, sponsored by his clansmen and worked hard to pay off his fare. He would proudly return visit to his peasant family in the village. His choice of Edwardian gentleman's clothes reveals his middle class  aspirations. Image National Archives of Australia

Marm Deen Khan was born in another British colony, the Punjab, India in 1868. He was fortunate to arrive in New South Wales four years before the operation of the federal Immigration Restriction Act. Indians then could enter the Colonies freely, unlike the Chinese whose influx was regulated. Most worked as cane cutters, farm labourers, hawkers and camel drivers and were the second largest Asian migrant group in colonial Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. He owned a lucrative horse and cattle trading business in Lismore and could afford to import his family, photographed in Sydney in 1913, before a visit back home. (Daughters: Back then left to right: Osmata 7yrs 6 months, Ameena 3 years 3 months, Jannet 5 and Fatima 1yr 6 months). Image National Archives of Australia

For more remarkable stories of coloured migrants in White Australia, please turn over

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