Tuesday 17 December 2013, with Lynda Chanwai-Earle
Asian Report is now Voices - more stories from New Zealand's ethnic minority communities
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Dunedin Hero, Willie McWong - WWII Chinese Pilot
Affectionately known as Willie McWong to many in Dunedin, he was one of only two Chinese men to earn their wings and serve as pilots in the Royal New Zealand Airforce during World War Two. He was also the only Chinese man to become a member of the 2nd Scottish Regiment (hence the nickname).
Bill Wong is sorely missed for many other reasons by the people of Dunedin as a loveable local character who ran the popular Wong Bros Fruit Shop alongside little brother George. Naturally social, he helped bridge the social divide between the local Chinese and Pakeha communities of the times. Bill was a tirelessly enthusiastic volunteer who dedicated much of his life towards the community, such as the creation of nationwide events like the Easter Sports Tournaments for Chinese across New Zealand. Dunedin City has even dedicated a mural to his legacy, depicting him next to his Harvard Trainer in 1940.
Lynda also gets a tour through Toitu, Otago Settlers Museum with curator Sean Brosnahan to view Bill Wong’s time with the RNZAF and the Wong family collection.
15:31 He was one of only two Chinese commissioned officers serving with the Royal New Zealand Airforce during World War Two. Lynda is in Dunedin meeting the family of the late Bill Wong, affectionately known as "Willie McWong" to those who knew him best.
Pilot Officer Bill Wong, presented his wings with the RNZAF, (circa 1941). Photo courtesy The Wong Family and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.