A three-year cultural restoration project drew to a close last week.
In 2020, Lawrence Chinese Camp descendant Adrienne Shaw set out to restore ancestor Sam Chew Lain’s crumbling mausoleum at the town’s cemetery.
Last Saturday, project supporters gathered at the cemetery to mark the conclusion of the project with the unveiling of a dedicatory plaque mounted on the structure.
Mrs Shaw said she was ‘‘satisfied’’ to have reached the project landmark.
‘‘We’re still waiting for a decision on Category 1 heritage status for the tomb but, after nearly three years, it’s very satisfying to see it back in this condition and a memorial to all the pioneers of the Chinese Camp.’’
She said the project was also an illustration of what shared hard work could achieve.
‘‘Everybody thought it couldn’t be done. But we got here through planning, toil and teamwork.’’
The plaque marked Mr Lain’s contribution to diplomacy and integration of the Chinese community with its European counterparts.
‘‘Sam ran the Chinese Empire Hotel adjoining the camp, which still stands today.
‘‘He was known as the ‘hungry son’ by his family, as he had an appetite for business. To be a successful businessman you need to work with people from all backgrounds, and Sam was one of the first Chinese men to be accepted to become a member of the local Masonic lodge.
‘‘This plaque, which has been supported by the Freemasons, marks his contributions to that society.’’
The Gothic tomb was designed by noted Otago architect John Burnside, and built on Mr Lain’s death in 1903 for him and later, for his wife Amelia.
The tomb was believed to be the only one of its kind worldwide built for a Chinese man and his European wife, and was managed for Mr Lain by the masonic brotherhood, Mrs Shaw said.
‘‘This project is symbolic in paying respect to all the Chinese pioneers who forged a path for their ancestors here in New Zealand.’’