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National Notebook October 2013


Rewi Alley in China

—an exhibition at the Canterbury Museum

21 September – 30 October 2013 in the Visitor Lounge

From left: Consul General, Mdme Tan, NZCFS Vice-President Dave Adamson,  Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, NZCFS Life Member Prof. Bill Willmott.
From left: Consul General, Mdme Tan, NZCFS Vice-President Dave Adamson, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, NZCFS Life Member Prof. Bill Willmott.

On Friday 20 September Mayor Bob Parker opened the Rewi Alley in China exhibition at Canterbury Museum. This fascinating exhibition, which has been facilitated by the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (Youxie) in conjunction with the Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau and the New Zealand China Friendship Society, is composed of about 80 framed photos and facsimiles of documents signed by Rewi during his time in China, and Shanghai in particular. Among the exhibits, some related files on Rewi Alley’s work in Shanghai Municipal Council will be released for the first time. The Shanghai Municipal Archives Bureau has also produced a very interesting 15 minute DVD to accompany the exhibition.

The five parts of the exhibition, Rewi Alley in China, are 

Early Life

Shanghai Memory 

Participation in Gung Ho Cooperative Movement

Establishing the Bailie School and

Days in China


NZCFS Delegation visits Shanghai Youxie

A delegation led by Dave Bromwich, including vice-presidents Dave Adamson and George Andrews, Vivienne Holmes and Colin Child from Dunedin Branch, Jane Hole from Christchurch Branch and Karen Beanland from the Michael King Writers Centre spent a successful six days in early September furthering  cultural links with Shanghai.

The 2013 inaugural Rewi Alley Scholar Ms Huo Yan had a most successful residency at the Michael King Writers Centre in Devonport, Auckland. A highlight was the signing of a Memorandum of Intent that looks forward to an exchange in which a New Zealand writer will be selected to be a part of the Shanghai International Writers’ Programme next year and a writer from Shanghai will be selected to hold the eight week Rewi Alley fellowship at the Michael King Writers’ centre in 2015. 



Music in Shanghai by Viv Holmes and Colin Child, Dunedin Branch

Our interest was in establishing a cultural connection with Shanghai, Dunedin’s Sister City, with a musical focus.  We are members of the City Choir Dunedin,  Dunedin’s main 140 voice choir, and subscribers to Southern Simfonia, Dunedin’s symphony orchestra. 

Shanghai International Music Festival and Choral Arts week.  The main activity on Wednesday 4 September was a visit to the

From left: Viv Holmes, Madam Wei Zhi  and Colin Child.
From left: Viv Holmes, Madam Wei Zhi and Colin Child.

administration offices of the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival. To our delight we meet the Vice Secretary General of the Organizing Committee Madam Wei Zhi. This festival has a 30 year history and included a Choral Arts Week in May, held for the first time this year.

Shanghai has 3000 choirs e.g. Shanghai Putuo District Teachers choir (each district in Shanghai may have its own teachers choir and choirs from other professions/activities). Also in 2014 there will be a festival of school children’s drama for one week.

At the festival this year the Patea Maori Club took part and performed two songs in the  closing ceremony. Shanghai Spring International Music Festival website: http://www.ssimf.org/  

A traditional Chinese musical experience.  On the evening of Friday 6 September the delegation went to the Shanghai Concert Hall for a concert with Tang Xiao Feng, playing the pipa, a four stringed plucked instrument. This virtuoso performer was accompanied variously by a string group, percussion, piano, and in the second half of the concert by a 60 member traditional Chinese Orchestra. The structure of the orchestra was similar to a western one, with strings, wind, percussion, but with the exception of cello and double bass the other instruments were all traditional Chinese, giving the orchestra a sound new to western listeners. The works included traditional Chinese, Bach, modern compositions and concert for pipa and orchestra. They were wonderfully impressive with a huge variety of sounds. 

The music season in Shanghai was only just beginning after the summer recess, but I am sure that anyone travelling to Shanghai would enjoy this experience.

Information on what’s on at the Shanghai Concert Hall and other venues  can easily be accessed at sites such as:


and  http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/performance.htm

Qingpu District by Jane Hole, Christchurch 

Qingpu District, 1½ hours from central Shanghai,  is the westernmost district of Shanghai,  bordering Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Its most notable feature,  Lake Dianshan, has been developed for tourists. First stop was the gracious  garden of a salt merchant named Ma. Sometimes called  ‘Ma Family Garden’ it’s also named ‘Ke Zhi Garden’ which apparently—with admirable Chinese brevity—means ‘not to forget to till the land while learning knowledge from books’.

The explanations by our guide Tony of the mansion and garden took us back to the elaborate courtesies and protocols of an earlier China, when one of the concerns in designing interior space was to filter encounters between men and women, household and guests—in obedience to social convention. The garden, many closely related spaces, revealed itself discreetly, as one hidden ‘room’ opened upon another. Behind such intricate spatial harmony must lie centuries of gardening discipline.  Scarlet lanterns and white walls, grainy wooden rails and  secretive rocky shapes, green leaves hanging still over their reflection in water—all suggested a deep internal balance. And the almost tangible contemplative atmosphere somehow survived even the presumption of our chatty tourist invasion.

In nearby Zhu Jiajiao, an ancient water village, a web of peaceful canals  is lined with little old houses built into the banks on brick and stone. Where age has worn away the outer facings of these foundations, the underlayers of their history are endearingly laid bare. We took to the water in  richly glossy wooden boats that wove silently among others under overhanging washing and caged birds and  slipped under humped-back bridges. Sometimes a view along an intersecting canal allowed us to see delicate arcs of distant bridges topped with a  tracery of crossing figures. This was an intimate world, slow and dreamy.

Qingpu  Disrtict Shanghai NZCFS Qingpu

New Zealand China Friendship Society launches Chinese website

WELLINGTON, July 21 (Xinhua) — The New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS) is building on its 60-year reputation as one of New Zealand’s most trusted institutions in China with the launch of a new Chinese-language website: cn.nzchinasociety.org.nz 

The website is part of a wider program to expand NZCFS activities in China and New Zealand, including an ambitious scheme to develop more grassroots cooperatives that have helped lift thousands of rural Chinese people out of a subsistence living on the land. The NZCFS was established in 1952 and was the main communications link between the two countries until diplomatic ties were established in 1972. Through its long association with the legacy of Gungho pioneer Rewi Alley, who helped found the industrial cooperatives during China’s anti-Japanese invasion war, the NZCFS has an extensive and distinguished network of connections in China, said NZCFS National President Dave Bromwich.

“We’re channeling the spirit of Rewi Alley in that he was an incredibly dynamic personality who adapted to circumstances and the times. The NZCFS will be just as dynamic in expanding the many links that exist between the two countries,” said Bromwich.

NZCFS Website Administrator and Wellington Branch Vice President Christine Strickland said the society’s English website has been in operation since 2011.


The Beauty of New Zealand                                                        

                       The Beauty of NZ


Those of you who were at the conference in May will remember the launch of the book The Beauty of New Zealand, a book of poetry written by Zhang Jichun (Jayson), husband of South Island Consul-General Mme Tan Xiutian. It’s a beautiful book, with a mix of poetry on New Zealand and a range of appropriate photos.

The book  retails for $48 and would make a brilliant gift to visitors.

Please contact  Maggie Chen the C.E.O.  of the Chinese Herald and order your copy.

09 366 1788   Mob: +64 21 2881718  Fax: +64 9 366 1988
E-mail: maggie@chnet.co.nz   Website: www.chnet.co.nz
203 Hobson Street, Auckland City, New Zealand PO.Box 6399 Wellesley St. AKL 1141


 2014 Asian Short Story Award

Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.) in association with Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Auckland Lantern Festival are delighted to announce the call for entries for the 2014 Asian Short Story Award.

This is the third time that the NZSA has been able to offer a short story award designed to provide support for the development of the NZ Asian writing community.   Writers have the opportunity to receive The Asia New Zealand Foundation Prize of $1,000, with second and third placed stories receiving $500 and $250 respectively.  Winners will be announced at an event as part of the Auckland Lantern Festival 2014.

The minimum length of entries is 2,500 words, and the maximum length is 3,500 words, and entries are open for any previously unpublished story written in or translated into the English language in fiction or non-fiction. Applications must be received by 5pm Friday 6 December 2013.  Please read the terms and conditions of application carefully before applying.  For enquiries email office@nzauthors.org.nz or visit www.authors.org.nz