“I moved to Christchurch in 1993. I was 14 years old, came over with pretty much the whole family. My father’s brother moved to New Zealand a long time ago, like, 50, 60 years ago.

I’ve got two older brothers, they went straight into the workforce but I was lucky enough to get educated in New Zealand. I’ve done a couple of Diplomas. I found myself a job at a construction company as a draftsman, and then I worked for an import company where I took up the role of a manager.

My wife is from China as well. So by the time she came over, I tried what I could to support her and the family at the same time. We started a lunch bar in town called the Cake Tin, but I lost the business in 2010 due to earthquakes. Luckily we got out of there, but it pretty much put me back to ground zero. That’s also the time we had our first child. Yeah, so that’s why life was turned upside down.

It was pretty rough, but we’re still standing here. All the family is here so it’s hard to pack up and just leave. I decided to stay. Family always comes first priority. It took me about three to four months to find another business in Bromley and start again. I also got this cafe, I was running both of them. butI struggled to run both cafes at the same time so I decided to sell that one.

And then we had the terror attack. We are only a few hundred metres from where it happened, so it had effects. And then COVID started, so it’s not fun. Over the last two years I’ve been trying my best and unfortunately, I lost one staff member to try to keep it viable. It’s not easy. But I must admit I have had great support from the staff, the landlord and all the regular customers.

I quite enjoy doing the cafe business. You have such a relaxed environment, and people come in having their cuppas and food, everybody’s nice and social and chatting to each other.

Lately I’m enjoying snorkelling with friends. We’ve been to Wainui, Kaikoura, Gore Bay. It’s quite fun and it’s great travelling in the car with friends talking about the week.”

– Charles

Charity registration number: CC57701