Wing Yui Choie (1924-1994) provided us with some information on the history of the Choie family, also known in New Zealand as the Sew Hoy family. He counts back thirty generations from his grandfather Kang Lem Sew Hoy (1888-1940) to the Ming Dynasty when Cheung Gong, the original ancestor, went to Sha Kong village.
Cheung Gong had four sons: Yao Choi, Yao Tsing, Dai Jai and Dai Ming. Our family is descended from the fourth son, Dai Ming. Dai Ming had two sons; the older son was Yak Cheuw and the second son was Mao Gui. Our family is descended from the older son, Yak Cheuw. Yak Cheuw's son was Bing Sum.
Bing Sum had four sons. They were Sew Hoy, Sew Ding, Sew Hong and Sew Kung. Our family is descended from Bing Sum's oldest son, Sew Hoy.
Choie Sew Hoy Born in 1838, the son of a farmer, he was raised in the tiny village of Sha Kong [Altar Hill]. Sha Kong, which then had only about 200 inhabitants, is in the Upper Panyu [Poon Yue] district of Guangdong [Kwangtung] Province in China.
As a young man Choie Sew Hoy went to the goldfields of California and Victoria. In 1868 he came to Otago and set up in business in Stafford Street as a merchant. He supplied miners and goldfield traders, imported goods, exported fungus [muk yee] and invested widely in gold mining and water-race ventures.
In 1888 Choie Sew Hoy's company built the world's first gold dredge to work the Big Beach claim on the Shotover River in Central Otago. The huge Nokomai hydraulic sluicing operation in Southland was the biggest of its type in New Zealand.
Choie Sew Hoy was naturalised in 1873 and became a notable figure in both European and Chinese circles. He was fluent in English and signed his letters in English "Sew Hoy". This was mistaken for his family name and he became known by Europeans as "Mr Sew Hoy" and "Charles Sew Hoy". He adopted the name, and many of his descendants in New Zealand have Sew Hoy as their family name.
- The transliteration of Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet can be a problem.
- Our family name has at various times been written as Chui, Tsui, Xu and Choie. All these names are represented by the same Chinese character.
- In New Zealand, Choie Sew Hoy found that Sew Hoy was taken to be his family name. It was adopted by him and some of his descendants.
How Choie Sew Hoy Is Related to other Choie Families in New Zealand: