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Auckland celebrates Rewi Alley’s contribution to international peace and friendship

A great turnout of speakers, VIPs and attendees at Rewi Alley’s birthday celebrations in Auckland


On Friday, 1 December 2023, the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand China Friendship Society commemorated Rewi Alley’s 126th birthday. Our celebrations were dedicated to the positive, harmonious and mutually beneficial relationships that Rewi Alley and his legacy have helped create between the peoples of New Zealand and China.

Audience at the celebrations


From left to right: Naisi Chen, David Bromwich, Leo de Graaf, Consul General Chen Shijie George Qiao


Youth session at Rewi Alley celebration


From left to right: Nancy Lu, Sir David Carter, Nancy Yan, XinNing Qi


These relationships have provided, and continue to provide, favourable trade outcomes and valuable opportunities, trade and otherwise, for New Zealanders of all ages.

The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirms that China received 27 percent of the total value of NZ’s total goods exports ($70.4 billion). In 2013, that share was 18 percent (8.3 billion). International Trade Manager, Alasdair Allen stated:

“Of our top 15 export commodities for the year ending September 2023, China was our top trading partner for seven of those commodities. China is an especially important market for exporters in our primary sectors. The number 1 top ranked commodities are milk powder, butter, and cheese. Fonterra is the leader in this field.”

Rewi Alley knew the essential pre-condition for successful social and economic development was the securing of peaceful relations between nations.

Informed engagement on the part of New Zealand businesses is absolutely essential to achieve these goals, especially for middle to small sized businesses, which are missing out on so much. New Zealand is a country with a very high proportion of middle to small sized businesses, which, nonetheless, make up a reasonable proportion of our import/export trade. But they can do much better.

Now, as 2023 draws to a close, the Auckland Branch of the NZCFS has embarked on a campaign to engage with business to bring about a greater awareness within the business community of the role that friendship and relationships play in our dealings with China. Relationships are very important to Chinese people.

It is a fact that many, I’d say the vast majority, of the people who benefit the most from our New Zealand-China trade know very little about why New Zealand is in such a favourable trade relationship with China.

This relationship began with New Zealanders showing friendship to China at a time of its greatest need during and following WWII and it has fuelled our relationship with China even to this day. However, this historical relationship is not enough on its own to maintain our favourable relations with China.

For that, we have to deal with the here and now. China is a treasure trove of opportunities for New Zealanders to discover. It is said that you have to go to China to really understand China, and that is so true. Seeing is believing. Seeing and engaging with China nowadays is to discover the sea of opportunities that await those with the means to take advantage of them.

The New Zealand China Friendship Society has the credentials to assist New Zealand business people who have not yet discovered what it’s like to do business with China. Though not all that well known in New Zealand except in government circles, Rewi Alley — and our Society that he helped establish — are very well known in China within business communities and in areas where Rewi Alley lived and worked. There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of statues and busts of Rewi Alley in parks, schools, and educational institutions.

Our Society’s primary objective is to foster friendship, understanding and goodwill between the peoples of New Zealand and the peoples of China by encouraging visits and facilitating the exchange of ideas, information, culture, and trade between both countries.

If this interests you, you may wish to visit our branch website here.