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Christchurch Branch December Newsletter







Next Meeting: Annual General Meeting and Godwits Video

The first meeting of the year always includes the branch’s Annual General Meeting. This is an opportunity to become more involved by joining the committee or taking on a key role. We are all committed to the NZCFS and together we can continue to work to achieve the aims of our organisation which are:

  • To promote friendship, understanding and goodwill between the peoples of China and New Zealand by encouraging visits and exchanges of ideas, information, culture and trade between the two countries. 
  • To foster interest in and promote the study of China, its history, culture, political and social structures-past and present. 
  • To support specific aid projects in China.  To promote the study of the Chinese language by New Zealanders and English studies in this country by Chinese. 
  • To foster on-going development of all sister-city links between the New Zealand and China. 
  • To assist both visiting students and new migrants from China. 

Committee roles are President, Treasurer, Secretary and committee members. The committee has a monthly meeting of about 1 ½ hours. The main tasks are

  1.  Monthly meetings – speakers etc. 
  2. Annual China Day and other banquets 
  3. December Prizegiving ceremony, CPIT 
  4. Culture Galore, March
  5. Catering to the needs of visiting delegations 
  6. Any other projects that may come up

 The Annual General Meeting will be followed by the showing of a video on the story of the journey of the Godwits from China to New Zealand.

2012 Speakers’ Programme

We are working at the moment on pulling together who our speakers will be for our 2012 meetings. You can rest assured we will have some interesting surprises for you!! And while I think about it, if you know of someone who you feel has a good tale to tell, please let me know, we’re always open to ideas.

Dave Adamson.

CORRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER: Please note that Annette Hill’s phone number is 322 8182 We having been showing it incorrectly in our newsletters, much to the annoyance of the people at the incorrect number!!

Prize-Giving Ceremony at CPIT

As part of NZCFS’ aim to encourage the study of Chinese language, the Christchurch Branch annually holds a prize-giving ceremony, when the best student from each school teaching Chinese is presented with a book prize and a certificate of achievement. Co-hosted by the CPIT School of Health, Humanities and Science, the ceremony took place this year on Rewi Alley’s 114th birthday, December 2nd. President Dave Adamson presided over the joyful event attended by about 100 people: the prize-winners, their teachers and families, members of our branch and the general public. He read out a letter from Prime Minister John Key congratulating the successful students.

In all, 16 students received our prizes, one more than last year: three from primary and seven from secondary schools, three from community schools, and three from tertiary institutions. (Three more high schools will be offering Chinese next year: Burnside, Papanui and Rangiora.) The prizes were presented by Chinese Consul Li Yucai from the newly opened Chinese Consulate General in Christchurch, and by Luba Roth, long-time teacher of Chinese at St Margaret’s College and president of the Christchurch Branch of the NZ Chinese Language Association for 20 years. Past-President Diana Madgin made a special presentation to Luba on her retirement from both positions.

Prizes were also presented by the CPIT to the best students in its full-time Chinese course and by the Confucius Institute to the top students taking the HSK (Chinese proficiency examination). Entertainment was provided by two young Chinese women, one singing Beijing Opera and the other playing beautiful pieces on the violin and hulusi. After the ceremony the crowd enjoyed mingling and congratulating the winners over supper.

Welcome Banquet, 11 December 2011

The Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee recently held a very successful banquet. The following article has been printed by the New Zealand Messenger. Another banquet will be held about the same time next year, and everyone will be invited. A great opportunity for all Sinophiles to further build contacts. We will keep you posted on that.

The Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee held a large very successful banquet on Sunday 11 December. The banquet was to welcome Consul General Mme Tan Xiutian and her consulate members to the city, as well as bringing together representatives of the many Chinese Associations which represent the 20,000 Chinese Nationals in Christchurch. The event allowed the committee to get to know these associations better and to see how they might be of greater help to each other.

Christchurch’s Chinese sister city links are with Gansu Province and Wuhan. Committee chair Bernard Duncan welcomed Mme Tan Xiutian and her colleagues, and spoke on the committee’s activities, which include sending teachers annually to Gansu Province to teach English for a school term, hosting Chinese Students attending the University of Canterbury to show them some of the best of Rural Canterbury and sending delegates to Gansu for a two month fellowship programme where they are immersed in Chinese life and culture. This last programme was done in conjunction with the Selwyn District Council who among other activities, host Chinese students at Darfield High School. Mr Duncan was pleased to announce that Christchurch recently received a donation from the city of Wuhan of $19,000, to be used for earthquake related projects. In conjunction with funding from the Seattle Sister City committee the committee has decided that these funds will be used to purchase an emergency response vehicle for the St John organisation.

Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button also warmly welcomed Mme Tan Xiutian to the city and said the opening of the consulate was a very important step in further building relationships. Mme Tan Xiutian spoke on her pleasure at being in Christchurch and how she planned that the presence of the consulate would further build on the relationships between the two countries. Mme. Tan’s speech was followed by one from the National President of the New Zealand China Friendship Society Mr Eric Livingstone who spoke on the founding of the society, the major role Rewi Alley played in the forging of a link between Gansu Province and Christchurch and the great pleasure he would have felt to see the opening of the consulate. The attached photo shows National President Eric Livingstone talking with Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button and her husband John.

The banquet was judged by all present to be a great success, and the committee hopes that this can be an annual event. It therefore plans to have another such occasion in early December 2012.

Brief Report On Visit To Shaanxi Women’s Health Projects

Branch member Deborah Rhode was in China a month or two back. This report she wrote for the national executive on part of her visit is so interesting we thought we should share it!

It was a combination of good timing and good luck that enabled me to take part in the monitoring and evaluation of the Women’s Health Projects in rural Shaanxi, to participate in the Forum for Sustainable Living in Xian and to visit a Cooperative Project in Shandan, Gansu last September. It was a wonderful experience for which I am most thankful – it not only gave me a greater insight into the valuable work that NZCFS is undertaking in rural China, but also to witness the close connection and goodwill that the Shaanxi and Gansu Women’s Federations feel towards New Zealand.

We visited four villages in rural Shaanxi for the Women’s Health projects, Dave Bromwich of the Hawkes Bay branch and I shared the interviewing; together with an interpreter I interviewed the back-bone team leaders and Dave met with groups of the villagers. Two villages were in more centralized areas and two in mountainous areas. Each had their own challenges.

The groups of back-bone teams ranged in size from five to eleven people, predominantly women except in two groups the village leader was male and one doctor was male. They were open and forthcoming despite the fact that most of the women had not travelled far from their villages and were unused to conversing with Westerners. My overall impression was of enthusiasm and determination for the success of the project, together with a great appreciation that the knowledge the women were receiving was contributing to the welfare of the village. The task of the backbone teams was to promote the health initiatives, organize regular health meetings (with doctors, hospital health workers etc), publicize the projects and facilitate discussion.

Some of the greatest benefits of the project were not only an increased knowledge of basic health care, but also a forum through which it became ‘OK’ to discuss formerly taboo subjects such as reproductive and gynecological health. The doctors all agreed that this had led to a much greater increase in preventative care with women visiting their GP much earlier, and being more responsive to their own and their children’s early symptoms. By practicing hygienic methods of meal preparation (hand washing, keeping flies off food, etc) the women felt they were helping their families to stay healthy – and more productive.

Environmental health was also included in the project, and this seemed to be enthusiastically embraced by the women – house yards were regularly swept, flowers were planted and rubbish was disposed of hygienically. The women commented on how these ‘simple’ measures made them ‘feel better about their every day life’. These measures were also carried out at community level, there was decreased in litter in the streets with all rubbish taken to a central station – and in the villages nearer towns there wasweekly collection. This remained a problem in the mountainous, sparsely populated villages where rubbish was burned or buried – but the team leaders were now working on that with civic officials.

My impression was that the Health Project initiative had not only achieved its primary goal of providing basic knowledge to improve the health of women and their families, it had also encouraged a greater awareness among ‘ordinary’ women (ie. non-politically inclined) in taking a leadership role in the welfare of their community. I feel that the Projects were successful as they were designed to give responsibility back to the individual – once knowledge had been imparted – which not only empowered the women to make practical and beneficial changes, but also stimulated them to think of many more creative and practical ways to improve their environment. In economically poor villages, I believe that this empowerment greatly enriches the lives of the ‘common women’ (their words) and sets the seeds for full community participation.

China Daily Article – Neither Hills, Heat nor Rabbits

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

As a post woman in Chenfang town, Jiangxi province, Luo arrives at the office each day at 7:30 am (having pulled herself out of bed an hour and a half earlier). In the morning she sorts letters, papers and parcels, and acts as the only clerk in the office. In the afternoon, she carries the mail to people living in eight villages scattered in the hills.

Two roads lead to the villages. One winds among hills and streams before reaching one village about 20 km away, and can only be covered by foot. The other is 25 km long, allows the use of a bicycle and has seven villages along the way.

Luo said it often takes five hours to finish a round trip of deliveries, and it’s hard to say which route is easier. “It’s a bit more tiring to walk the hilly road, because I have to climb the hills. Yet on the other route I probably carry more mail by bike,” she said.

Luo, 43, the daughter of a farmer’s family in Chenfang, worked on the farm before becoming a postal worker. In 1996, the post office asked Luo’s parents if she would like to fill a temporary vacancy. Luo didn’t expect that “temporary” position to last for 10 years, until she became an official and the only employee of the post office in 2008.

She used to carry up to 55 kg of mail, but now she is not as strong as she used to be, and there are fewer letters and telegrams today. Yet she is proud that she has never lost one letter or made a late delivery.

“The hills seem dangerous, though. I seldom see other people walking. Sometimes there are animals popping out of the woods, such as rabbits and boar,” Luo said. “It’s a bit scary.”

But animals are not the only frightening thing she has run into. In 2001, Luo was stopped by a man attempting to rob her. “I was carrying parcels of mail with a pole, and suddenly he came out of the woods, asking me to give him my money.” She finally drove the robber away. “I was so scared, there was really nothing I could do but put down the mail, grab the pole in my hand, and shout out loud.”

She also suffered heatstroke while working in summer, and once passed out on the way for two hours. “Now besides food and water, I take some medicine for heatstroke,” she said. The hardships don’t stop her love for the job, however. Luo said the villagers treat her like a family member, and sometimes invite her for a meal or to stay for the night.

She also suffered heatstroke while working in summer, and once passed out on the way for two hours. “Now besides food and water, I take some medicine for heatstroke,” she said. The hardships don’t stop her love for the job, however. Luo said the villagers treat her like a family member, and sometimes invite her for a meal or to stay for the night.

Fifty-year-old Xu Shuihua, who is taking care of her 9-year-old grandson while her son and daughter-in-law work in another province, has known Luo for many years. “The elderly people have been left here by younger ones who have gone out to work. Sometimes we buy things that may be too heavy to carry, and Luo helps us by carrying them with her pole, though she is already tired,” Xu said. “She is very nice. It’s a natural thing we invite her for lunch or give her something. We all have feelings.”

Wu Guohua, head of the Yanshan county post office, thinks Luo is an honest and kind-hearted woman. “We have visited local people who Luo does deliveries for. They speak highly of her. She gets along with them very well. I believe it’s because she has been doing a good job.”

Xia Yingfang, 21, Luo’s daughter, said: “It doesn’t matter what kind of job my mother is doing. She has been a post woman for so long. She feels connected to it, even though the job is not easy.” “I support her as long as she is happy with it,” she said.

Having spent most of her life working in the town where she was born, Luo finally got the chance to visit Myanmar in 2009 on a tour organized for outstanding postal workers in Jiangxi province. “Many years ago, when I heard the jet engine in the sky, I thought to myself, ‘if only I could travel by plane’,” Luo said with a laugh. “Now my dream has come true. I had never thought this day would come. My fate has changed.