The Christchurch branch has held an annual prizegiving ceremony for the best students of the Chinese language in Christchurch since 1998. Originally, it was held at the Christchurch Polytechnic of Technology (now ARA), for the best students of Chinese at that institution, which provided both the venue and the catering for the supper which followed the ceremony. Well-known branch members Di Madgin and Bill Willmott drove the early days of this annual process, in conjunction with Margaret Pierson and Qi Lubao at the polytech. From those early days, it grew to the point where something like 10 or 11 schools were involved.
With the establishment of the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury in the last few years, which runs its own annual prizegiving process, the branch felt the time had come, especially with the resources the CI has, to combine the ceremony process. It was therefore reluctantly decided that 2022 would be the last time it held its own.
On November 1, the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury 2023 award ceremony for outstanding Chinese learners in Canterbury was held at St Margaret’s College. Professor Kevin Watson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Chair of the CIUC Board formally welcomed the attendees and award winners. Madam He Ying, the Consul General of The People’s Republic of China in Christchurch, Christchurch Branch President Chris Goodwin, and Dr Zhifang Song, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury, gave speeches, encouraging and congratulating all Chinese learners and participants of the National Annual Chinese Calligraphy Competition.
The event attracted more than 400 teachers, Chinese learners and their families from Christchurch schools offering Chinese classes. The award ceremony focused on the “2023 Chinese Learning Excellence Awards” (Primary School Group, Secondary School Group, University Group), the “14th Aotearoa New Zealand Chinese Calligraphy Competition Award”, and the HSK and YCT Examination Excellence Awards, with more than 100 school representatives and outstanding students taking the stage to receive awards. Education Consul Shen Jian, President Chris Goodwin, Executive Dean and Professor Kevin Watson, Consul General He Ying, and Dr Song Zhifang presented honorary certificates and prizes to the winning schools and students and expressed their warm congratulations.
Interspersed during the ceremony was a Tai Chi sword performance from CIUC’s martial arts teacher, Wang Hongchun, and a dance from Xinjiang, “Why are Flowers So Red” performed by CIUC Mandarin Learning Assistant, Zhao Yuanjun.
This was an excellent event, and branch committee members in attendance quickly realised they had made the correct decision in moving forward and combining with the Confucius Institute from now on.