Chinachem Lai Chi Wo Story Room Opens Today Preserving Hong Kong’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
Mr. Wong Kam-sing, the Secretary for the Environment (centre), Dr. Leung Siu-fai, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation (2nd from left), Donald Choi, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chinachem Group (2nd from right), LNEF’s Chairperson, Cherry Tam (left) and Lai Chi Wo Village Representative Tsang Wai-yip (right) pose for a photo at the opening ceremony to celebrate the launch of Chinachem Lai Chi Wo Story Room.
Despite being one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Hong Kong is also famed for its historic rural villages. Hing Chun Alliance, a total of seven Hakka villages in the Northeast New Territories, namely Lai Chi Wo, So Lo Pun, Mui Tsz Lam, Kop Tong, Siu Tan, Ngau Shi Wu and Sam A, are among the most prominent. To empower these local communities to conserve and promote their intangible cultural heritage, and contribute towards their revitalisation, the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark has launched a project named “Same Roots, Same Origins”.
As part of this project, Chinachem Group is now taking a further initiative to help preserve this important part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage by collaborating with the Government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Lions Nature Education Foundation (LNEF) and Lai Chi Wo Pui Shing Tong to open a story room highlighting the customs of Hing Chun Alliance.
At the opening ceremony of the Chinachem Lai Chi Wo Story Room today, the Secretary for the Environment, Mr. Wong Kam-sing said: “The Geopark requires concerted support, innovation and creativity from the Government, local communities and different stakeholders to excel. We look forward to continued close exchange and collaboration among the Government, geopark stakeholders and other partners to conserve the heritage, culture and environment of geopark communities, and to promote their sustainable development.”
Chinachem Group's Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Donald Choi explained that “guided by our Triple Bottom Line of People, Prosperity and Planet, we exist to benefit the communities we serve. We strive to create ‘Places with Heart’ and are pleased to play a role in safeguarding this key part of Hong Kong’s culture. We want to help people understand the social and cultural fabric of Hakka villages and drive social and economic benefits for the community at the same time.”
LNEF’s Chairperson, Cherry Tam commented at the ceremony that the Foundation had been established with an aim to promote nature education and rural conservation. By rediscovering the stories of the Geopark’s communities, they could give visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about their intangible cultural heritage. Lai Chi Wo Village Representative Tsang Wai-yip concurred, saying he hoped the story room could enable visitors to experience the Hakka culture of the Hing Chun Alliance and the villagers’ modest but colourful lives in the past.
The Chinachem-funded Story Room focuses on four themes of Hakka village life, namely daily lives, wedding rituals, traditional medicine, and Hakka folk songs. By taking visitors back to the glorious days of the past, it helps promote the culture of Hing Chun Alliance to younger generations. Lai Chi Wo, where the Story Room is located, is one of Hong Kong’s oldest, largest and best-preserved rural settlements. Flanked by lush fung shui woods and mangrove forests, this once thriving and affluent Hakka village was built more than three centuries ago and was home to over 1,000 residents until the 1960s. It has more than 200 picturesque houses, laid out in precise horizontal and longitudinal rows according to geomancy rules, and protected by rustic walls. The Lai Chi Wo Rural Cultural Landscape has been awarded the inaugural Special Recognition for Sustainable Development in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Mr. Wong Kam-sing, the Secretary for the Environment (centre), Dr. Leung Siu-fai, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation (2nd from left), Donald Choi, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chinachem Group (2nd from right), LNEF’s Chairperson, Cherry Tam (left) and Lai Chi Wo Village Representative Tsang Wai-yip (right) unveil a plaque at Lai Chi Wo Story Room.