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Christchurch branch newsletter January 2014



headerChinese New Year Banquet – 31st January 2014

6.30pm., Friday 31 January

Madam Kwong’s Restaurant

155 Blenheim Road

Cost: $25

A jar will be available for anyone wishing to make a donation to the He Mingqing Fund


Annual General Meeting: 27 February

The first meeting of the year always includes the branch’s Annual General Meeting. All positions on the committee are contestable. Dave Adamson will be stepping down as branch president. Please give some thought to whether you would like to stand for the committee. This is an opportunity to become more involved in our society’s activities, and being on the committee is great fun!


Special Visitors from Gansu Province

When I worked in the International Relations team at the Christchurch City Council, I had a lot to do with Stephen (Zhu Yuming) in the Gansu Foreign Affairs Office where he is Deputy Division Chief. Christchurch and Gansu Province are sister cities. Stephen was my first point of contact for all business, and we quickly built up a strong friendship. Over about ten years we met several times in both Christchurch and Gansu. Stephen was excellent to work with; intelligent and diligent; for me it made organizing delegation visits etc that much easier.

Last September I spent a week with him in Gansu. By that time I had come to regard Stephen as my Chinese son. A highlight of that visit for me was having lunch with his parents in his hometown of Jinchang. At that time he said he and his wife Echo (cute name!) would like to come and spend Christmas with us. Echo is currently doing her PhD at the University of Adelaide. Of course I said that would be great but that I would need to wait till I got home and checked our diary, discussed it with my wife Carol etc etc. However, happily it proved to be fine, so on the morning (and by morning I mean 5.05am!!) of 16 December, there they were at the airport!


That was the start of an 15 amazing days for them. They spent the first three nights with us, then Bernard Duncan, chair of our Christchurch China Sister Cities committee and his wife Jane hosted them on their farm at Darfield for three nights. That was a chance for them to visit the Rewi Alley Memorial at Springfield, as well as Darfield High School, which the committee helps with the funding of an annual exchange of students with Shandan Bailie School, the school founded by Rewi Alley in Shandan, Gansu. We had a barbecue at Bernard’s, and of course Stephen did the cooking!! From there it was off to Diamond Harbour for three nights on their own in the holiday home of Eric and Judy

 20131225_101608Stephen & Echo Christmas 2013 018

On Christmas morning I went over to Lyttelton and collected them from the ferry. We had Christmas Day at the home of my son Simon and his wife Jude and their three boys; 15 of us sat down that day, with ages ranging from eight to 93. I think that was quite an experience for them, especially as one of young Anton’s Christmas presents was a bear onesie (can’t believe I’ve just typed that!).


One evening we had dinner at the home of Scott and Valentina Hay. The background to that was that each year Gansu holds what it calls the Gansu Fellowship programme. This is where a young person from each of its sister cities is invited to Gansu for two months, during which time they have a cultural and language immersion experience. This includes university as well as many site visits around the province. Because of the value Gansu places on its relationship with Christchurch (which came about at the direct request of Rewi Alley) they allow us to send two delegates. In about 2006 Scott Hay and Marcia Jones were chosen, Bill Willmott and myself handling the selection process. The delegate from Grodno State, Belarus was a beautiful young woman called Valentina and … as the saying goes, the rest is history. They fell in love and now live in Christchurch and have a beautiful little girl, Sofiya, with another child due in May (big secret whether it’s a boy or a girl!!). The extra nice part to that story is that Marcia Jones is now a director of Sister Cities New Zealand. What a great outcome for that year’s two Gansu fellows!!DSCF1471

By a happy coincidence the welcome function for the visit of the new ambassador, His Excellency Mr Wang Lutong was held during their visit, so that was another experience they were able to add to their list of accomplishments! Another one was having a meeting with Duncan Sandeman and Ruth Fischer-Smith of the council’s Civic & International relations team. Stephen knew them both well via emailing but of course this was a great opportunity to put faces to names.


The visit was also an opportunity for Stephen to sit down with Bill Studholme of the Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee and work on the itinerary for the committee’s proposed China tour later this year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Christchurch/Gansu relationship. Watch for further information on this tour.


Stephen and Echo’s last five nights were back with us. On one of those days we took them to Akaroa (including popping into that amazing gallery in Little River). A couple of days before they left us we had a barbecue so that they could meet members of our branch committee and also as a way of saying Thank You to those who homehosted them. Needless to say once again Stephen did the cooking! I think if I’d tried to do it he would have beaten me over the head with the tongs!! Rumour has it he’s going to buy a barbecue when he gets home, although with the gauge in Lanzhou hitting -18c on one of the days they here, it’ll be a while before he fires it up I think!

What a wonderful time they had, and what value the visit is going to add to the already strong Christchurch/Gansu relationship.

Stephen & Echo in NZ Christmas 2013 002 Stephen & Echo in NZ Christmas 2013 016 Stephen & Echo in NZ Christmas 2013 019 Stephen & Echo in NZ Christmas 2013 022

 Thank you very much to Bernard and Jane, Eric and Judy and Simon and Jude for homehosting this special young couple, and helping to make their visit here so amazing and unforgettable. We know they have gone home with memories which will last forever.

Dave Adamson