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Biography: Father Coffey
Biography: T.K. Sidey
Biography: John Sidey
Biography: Chung Ding
Biography: Hannah Hananeia

People: Race and Religion

Religion was important in Southern Dunedin. The religious make-up of its' population reflected its ethnic diversity. There were the Irish Catholics in South Dunedin and the Eastern Orthodox Lebanese, who worshipped with the Anglicans until they opened their own church in Fingall Street. The high proportion of English migrants was also reflected in the strength of non-conformist church denominations like the Methodists and Baptists. Almost half of the population identified with these and other Protestant denominations of English origin like the Congregationalists, the Brethren and the Salvation Army.

Ethnic identification and religious adherence often shaped the settlement on 'the Flat'. These links gave neighbourhoods distinctive characters. While there were no 'ghettos', there were residential clusters of people from the same ethnic or religious group.

Marlow FamilySouth Dunedin was the Irish Catholic area. Catholics made up 20% of the population there in 1891. Generally unskilled, many Catholic workers and their families were quite poor. Their community life centred on St Patrick's Basilica in Macandrew Road and the schools and orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy. The Catholics also developed their own sports clubs and societies. Occasionally ill-feeling between Catholics and Protestants became quite marked. A sense of difference persisted throughout this period. This photo shows both the religious and lay members of South Dunedin's Marlow family about 1920. (Kevin Marlow Archives, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

PresbyteriansCaversham had fewer Scots and more English migrants than most parts of Dunedin. Even many of Caversham's leading Presbyterians were English, or had lived in England before emigrating. A lot of street names, like the name of Caversham itself, also reflected English origins. One of the most notable residents was T. K. Sidey. This photograph shows him laying the foundation stone for the Caversham Presbyterian Church Sunday school Hall in 1915. Sidey taught Sunday School in the Hall for over forty years. (The Sketcher, 1915, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Chung DingChinese market gardeners, laundrymen and fruit and vegetable sellers were a small but distinctive element of the southern Dunedin population. Most were men alone, often supporting families back in China. They were accepted, if not welcomed, so long as they kept to their place on the economic and social margins. At right Mr and Mrs Chung Ding photographed at home on the family market gardening holdings at Outram in the 1960s.. Chung Ding originally had a market garden on 'the Flat'. (Ding Family photograph)

Nicholas HananeiaThe Lebanese or 'Assyrians' were another 'alien' group. Like the Chinese they maintained an entrepreneurial role on the fringes of southern Dunedin life, hawking wares around rural Otago. As succeeding generations learned English, however, they were better able to blend in with the dominant population. The church they built, St Michael's Orthodox Church in Fingall Street, was a symbol of their cultural and religious distinctiveness. In this 1906 photograph Nicholas Hananeia is shown with his hawker's cart and horse. (Photograph, Zita Ramsay)

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