Why join the New Zealand China Friendship Society?
The New Zealand China Society (NZCFS) was founded in 1952, at a time when the Cold War had destroyed all relations between New Zealand and China. At that that many of the members were seen as left leaning or communist sympathisers. The Society’s main aim during the 1960s and ‘70s was providing opportunities for New Zealanders to learn about the new China, through public meetings and tours, and the campaign for diplomatic recognition of China by New Zealand, which finally occurred in 1972. Today China and the world are very different and so is NZCFS.
Post 2010 there was a proliferation of New Zealand and China Associations, most of which focus on business. Government funded organisations like AsiaNZ or CAPE have also become active in proving high quality information to Kiwis about Asia, not to mention highly competitive internship programmes. New Zealand mainstream media no longer shies away from China issues and finding information about China is as easy as connecting to the internet.
So, what is the point of joining the NZCFS?
Firstly, the NZCFS is a Non-Government, Non-Political Charitable Trust. The society isn’t tied to any one company and enjoys freedom to conduct research, develop programmes and activities based on the member’s own passions as long as they contribute to the overall goals of the society. While some of our members are interested in business and building networks through their membership, others primarily want to learn about Chinese culture and language. Many others simply want to make friends and have opportunities to travel with likeminded people.
The NZCFS’s goals are quite broad, which is good as it allows for people with a broad range of interests to get involved. The goals are: To foster interest in and promote the study of China, its history, culture, political and social structures – past and present; To support specific aid projects in China; To promote the study of the Chinese language by New Zealanders and advanced English studies in this country by Chinese; To foster on-going development of all sister-city links between New Zealand and China; and, To assist both visiting students and new migrants from China requiring help to fit in to New Zealand society
The society is currently enjoying a rejuvenation. Over the past 18 months a number of the ‘old guard’ have stepped aside and let a new generation of leaders get involved. Our newest members include students, young professionals and entrepreneurs. They bring new passion, interests and ideas to our membership. The NZCFS is also reaching out to other organisations like the previously mentioned AsiaNZ Foundation and the Centre or Asia Pacific Excellence (CAPE), as well as with other Associations.
When I asked some of our newest members why they joined the responses I received where very diverse:
“I wanted to meet more kiwis and learn about New Zealand culture”. – Jimmy Ao
“I am interested to learn more about Chinese culture and meet new friends who share my interest”
“I am primarily interested in doing business with China, however I understand that to do business with China we need to be friends first, that is why I joined the NZCFS”
As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. If you want to be a passive member of the society you will receive a monthly newsletter with some interesting information about China, you will also be eligible to attend tours and other activities at members rates.
For those who want to get more involved there are numerous opportunities at both the branch and national level. The main centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch already have regular meets and activities; however, all of our branches are supportive of developing new programmes and your ideas and enthusiasm will be encouraged.
By getting involved you will learn a lot and gain experience which will be transferrable to your working life. Your involvement will also enhance your resume. Moreover, you will make friends and have fun.
Being a national organisation with links across Asia there are plenty of opportunities to network and develop relationships in business, academic, entertainment, cultural and political circles. You will be able to meet a diverse range of people with diverse backgrounds.
Finally, by getting involved you will be able to apply to take part in onshore and offshore activities, you will also be eligible to apply for scholarships, internships and grants.
So, why not join?