Wealthy New Zealanders Series:
From immigrant to trailblazer Charles Sew Hoy: The story of profitability
harles Sew Hoy was born in Guangzhou, north of Canton in 1836. His journey to success started in California with other Cantonese goldseekers and brought him finally to New Zealand around 1868. He became a successful merchant on opening a store in Dunedin in 1869, where he imported Chinese goods and provided advice and credit. Sew Hoy became a prominent leader of Otago's Chinese miners. As one man said of him: “If Sew Hoy tell you a stone roll uphill, you believe him.” His bilingual abilities and ‘interest in public affairs’ helped secure him respect in European society and by the early 1880s he had become the most renowned Chinese man in Dunedin. Sew Hoy developed a special interest in gold dredging and as his goldmining investments grew, so did his reputation. In 1887 he acquired a goldbearing flat of about 250 acres on the Shotover River, later forming the Shotover Big Beach Gold Mining Company, where he held 146 of the 300 shares. He was fundamental in instigating Otago's first gold-dredging boom from 1889 to 1891, after the remarkable success of the ‘Sew Hoy dredge’ that earned as much as £40 a day. News spread rapidly of Sew Hoy's initiatives, which led to a rush of new mining applications and a sustained mining resurgence in northern Southland. Sew Hoy played a significant role in making dredging a commercially profitable arm of goldmining. He proved decisively that Chinese immigrants had the ability to create prosperous business initiatives, whilst also successfully entering the European world.
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