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A group of over 50 people from all over New Zealand came together for a banquet at the Grand Century Restaurant to formally start our year of celebrations.

At table one, hosted by President Eric Livingstone and Judy, were past presidents Mary Gray, Bill Willmott and partners, and Margaret Cooper, along with Counsellor Cheng Lei representing the Ambassador. Bill was congratulated on his eightieth birthday, and Vincent Gray on his 90th.

Before dinner there were some accounts of past milestones in the Society’s history. NZCFS historian Dr Alistair Shaw gave a background and brief account of the first meeting held in Auckland in February 1952, with a promise of more to come at National Conference in May.

Prof Bill Willmott

Professor Bill Willmott recounted with some humour the concerns of being too closely involved in the Society when he first became involved in the early 1970s, with possible interest being shown by the SIS. He also noted the changes in focus and broadening of the membership base over the sixty years, with Russian or Albanian allegiance given as an example of an important issue earlier on.

A message of congratulations from past president Robin Brown, who was unable to attend, was read out.

President Eric Livingstone

President Eric also recounted his arrival on the scene in the 1980s with involvement in trade missions to China.

Counsellor Cheng Lei

Counsellor Cheng then congratulated the Society for its long history, and thanked us for the firm support for China throughout this period.

The banquet food organised by the ever competent Wellington President and National Executive member Bernie Richmond was equalled only by the convivial atmosphere.