In my Report last year, for the 2014 year, I talked of the Society having a busy year and of the consequential heavy workload for Committee members. Exactly the same can be said for the 2015 year. I appeal for members to consider offering themselves for election to the Committee. We are short-handed and are suffering a major loss as we enter the current year.
I want to discuss that loss at the outset. Christine Strickland, who has been a longstanding member of the Branch, has held many Branch and National positions and of course most recently has been Vice President here. I had the privilege of getting to know her in that role. As I did so, I came to realise how much we have all depended on her energy, her wisdom and her commitment to the goals of the Society. Her knowledge of the history of the Society seems to me to have been unique.
I can’t speak too highly of Christine’s overall contribution. But now she has decided that the time has come for her to step down and we have to respect that. I am sure all members of the Branch will join me in saying a big thankyou to Christine. We wish her well but still hope to see her at our monthly meetings whenever she can come. And I hope she will be tolerant when we have occasion, as we certainly will, to consult her on particular issues.
I have talked rather glibly over the past year of the need for the Branch to “rejuvenate”. I do still believe that strongly and I’m convinced that I need to withdraw from the president role very soon. I believe we have been very fortunate in the quality of many members of our Committee, particularly the younger members – and to me everyone is “younger”. But I believe we do need to work hard on rejuvenating the Branch leadership.
On the Branch’s programme for the coming year, I would like to try to find a way of taking account of the preferences and ideas of the wider membership. What kinds of speakers do members of the Branch want to hear from? How much variety? Are there any special requests? Are members happy with the format of our monthly meetings and, if not, how would they like them improved?
I suggest we discuss these questions at a future meeting. Meanwhile, please let me, or any other members of the Committee, have any ideas or suggestions. Then, in the first instance, we will discuss them in the Committee with a view to a wider discussion involving the Branch membership.
The Society’s relations with the Chinese Embassy continue to be excellent and we certainly value them.
Branch Activities for the past year:
February 2015 Chinese New Year Banquet
March 2015 AGM and Pat English, Executive Director, NZ China Council
April 2015 Michael Powles on China and the Pacific conference
May 2015 Mandarin Language Assistants from the Confucius Institute on the ir experiences in New Zealand
June 2015 Discussion of the outcomes from the NZCFS Annual Conference
July 2015 [Cancelled due to Wellington’s weather!]
August 2015 Madeleine Slavick, photographer, poet and writer, on her time in Hong Kong and China
September 2015 Stevan Eldred-Grigg on his books on China and New Zealand
October 2015 Professor Bo Zhiyue on the role and goals of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre
November 2015 Wellington participants on the ‘Medical Prominent Persons Tour to China’ reported in valuable detail on their experience.
Once again, in February 2016, we celebrated the new Year of the Monkey at our annual banquet. We were pleased to have the Society’s Patron, Hon Philip Burdon, Chinese Ambassador Wang Lutong and Madame Yang Pengbo, and our National President Dave Bromwich, present as our guests. We were fortunate too, to have numbers of members of our sister organisations present. All this, and the organisation of an entertaining quiz, contributed to a successful and cheerful evening.
Best wishes for a happy and prosperous Year of the Monkey to all our members.