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60th NZCFS Conference and AGM Report


18-20 May 2012 – Auckland
Theme: “By honouring our past, we find our future” 

The 60th Anniversary National Conference was a significant celebration and a very theatrical experience, well-choreographed by Auckland Branch President, George Andrews, and a team from the Confucius Institute and the New Zealand China Youth Foundation. 

Important visitors from China included two of our three Honorary Members, Liu Guozhong and Ma Baoru, as well as Rewi Alley’s “number three son”, Lao San.  Sadly, our third Honorary Member, Lu Wanru, was unable to travel. However, she did contribute copies of her book “By Honoring The Past We Find The Future” – a valuable living history of Lu Wanru’s contact with many in our Society. 

Ambassador Xu Jianguo and Auckland Mayor Len Brown welcomed us and the keynote speakers included:

Liao Hui, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and President of the China Oceania Friendship Association; Philip Burdon, NZCFS Patron; John McKinnon, Secretary of Defence and NZ Ambassador to China 2001–2004; Life Members Cecil Fowler and Bill Willmott; National President Eric Livingstone; Dave Bromwich, North Island Vice President and Projects Coordinator; Patricia Tauroa from the China-Maori Friendship Trust; Isobel Thompson, who nursed in China in the 1950s; and the ‘ambassador’ for the godwits, Adrian Riegan

The families of Rewi Alley and Kathleen Hall were well represented and there was a huge ‘presence’ of important historical figures: Rewi Alley, Tom Newnham and He Ming Qing (Kathleen Hall).
Ma Baoru talked passionately about the legacy of Kathleen Hall and the assistance she gave to Tom Newnham during his visit to research Kathleen Hall’s story.
Liu Guozhong, Deputy Principal of the Shandan Bailie School, spoke of the legacy that Rewi Alley had left in both the School and the Cooperative movement, and showed the very strong collaboration and support of NZCFS in both these areas. 

Warren Freer, one of the earliest Auckland members who joined the NZCFS in 1955, was there as were Don and Elizabeth McRae.  Elizabeth, fresh from her return performance as Marge on “Shortland Street”, was MC for the day on Saturday, along with Sylvia Yang who presented an excellent video that was shot during last year’s Projects. 

While this might seem a dry list of names, their messages were inspirational, informative and fascinating as they traversed their personal and official experiences of New Zealand-China friendship and honoured the valuable part the NZCFS has played in developing that relationship. View some of the speeches in our webpage NZCFS 2012 National Conference Presentations.

 A special treat was viewing excerpts from ‘Inside Red China’, a documentary made in 1957 by Rudall and Ramai Hayward, including remarkable footage of Mao Zedong accepting a Maori cloak as a gift.  This was enormously appreciated by the Chinese delegation. They gasped as they saw their cities and countryside as they were over 50 years ago. 

Another highlight was the final presentation: a group of young Pakeha and Chinese Kiwis gave quick, but powerful, sketches of their lives and their hopes for their future in NZ-China friendship and cooperation. Inspiring!


At our 60th Anniversary Conference, Liao Hui, Vice Chairman of the influential Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and President of the China-Oceania Friendship Association, announced a one million RMB ($NZ200,000) contribution to a new fund to promote educational, cultural and arts exchanges between China and New Zealand.
More details at https://nzchinasociety.org.nz/9892/new-fund-for-china-friendship-exchanges/.
It was decided at the AGM that a Working Group be set up to look into how this new fund should be administered.


Prof. Bill Willmott and his wife, Diana Madgin retire from the National Executive this year after 18 years’ service to the Society. Their extraordinary contribution to the Society and to friendship between New Zealanders and the Chinese people was recognised and acknowledged. 

Bill Willmott, Di Madgin, Royden Smith, Dave Feickert and Christine Strickland were each awarded the NZCFS Distinguished Service Award.