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NZCFS Christchurch Branch Newletter September 2016

Westland Mayor Mike Havill and Consul General Jin Zhijian

Please Note: There will be no monthly meeting in September as we will have our China National Day Banquet (details below) on Sunday 2 October! Our next monthly branch meeting will be Thursday 27 October.

China National Day Banquet Sunday 2 October 2016

As usual, proceeds from the banquet will go toward the He Ming Qing Nursing Scholarship programme in China, which for several years has supported a number of nursing students from rural areas in China to complete their nursing training. Many of these students are already making great contributions to rural Chinese communities’ healthcare. 

We will once again run our raffle, which supports the He Ming Qing programme. If you have anything you feel could be used as a prize, can you please contact Ailsa Dodge 376 4422  [email protected]   Please see the banquet flyer with booking details below. Make up a group, come along and have a wonderful evening of food and friendship!

Come along and mark this special occasion with an evening of good food and good company. Invite your friends for a night of Chinese Celebration!

The banquet price is $35 per person, or why not book a table for a group of 10 friends at $350 per table, and remember Red Bowl Restaurant is licensed, and also BYO.


Red Bowl Restaurant, 57 Mandeville St, Riccarton, Christchurch

Sunday 2nd October 6:00 PM

To reserve your spot, please email Vivien at [email protected]. You can also text or call Vivien at 021500429 Please RSVP by 29th September, 2016.

In the email, please indicate the number of places or tables you would like to have reserved.

Payment method:

1.    Please post a cheque for payment to Vivien Qin, Treasurer: 9 McLellan Place, Ilam, Christchurch, 8042


2.    Email your booking information to Vivien and direct debit Kiwibank Acct: NZCFS 38-9010-0816274-00  IMPORTANT be sure to enter your name!

*Note: This banquet supports the He Mingqing Scholarship; there will be a raffle.

2017 Society Conference update

We can now confirm the May 2017 society conference will be held 19 – 21 May, and will be at the Rewi Alley Language School in Matipo Street. Be sure to put those dates in your diary!!

Chinese civilisation

According to legend, Chinese civilisation began around 4,000 years ago in the Yellow River basin, when an emperor called Yu the Great successfully managed to control a huge flood. After all these years, the story has taken on an almost mythological status, but despite frequent retelling, evidence for the ‘great flood’ and the Xia dynasty itself has remained patchy. 

Now researchers have found the first geological evidence that the flood actually happened – and it was just as big as the legends suggest. An international team of scientists has shown that, around 1920 BCE, an earthquake triggered the Yellow River to burst its banks, creating one of the largest freshwater floods in human history.

The evidence suggests that this flood occurred several centuries later than the legend of Yu the Great, but the timing matches up with the region’s major transition from the Neolithic to Bronze Age.

It also supports the hypothesis that ruins in the area attributed to the ‘Erlitou culture‘ are actually an archaeological manifestation of the Xia dynasty.

Researchers have long suspected that this Bronze Age Erlitou culture might represent Yu the Great’s Xia dynasty, but they needed evidence of the flood to tie it all together.

“Great floods occupy a central place in some of the world’s oldest stories,” geologist David Montgomery from the University of Washington, who wasn’t involved in the study, wrote in a commentary accompanying the results in Science.

“Emperor Yu’s flood now stands as another such story potentially rooted in geologic events. … How many other ancient stories of intriguing disasters might just have more than a grain of truth to them?” (We’re looking at you, Noah).

There are several different versions of Yu’s Great Flood story, but the gist of it is that a flood large enough to “assail the heavens” was raging through the region, before Yu figured out how to dredge and channel the flooded rivers to control the water – a task that apparently took decades and the help of dragons and a giant turtle to accomplish. 

As a result, Yu earned his spot as the ruler of the Xia dynasty. National Palace Museum, Taipei/Wikimedia

The evidence for the flood came from unusual sediment found in the Jishi Gorge of the Yellow River. By analysing and dating this sediment – as well as the remains of children who died in an earthquake in the nearby archaeological site of Lajia – the researchers were able to put together a rough timeline of the events.

They estimate that the same earthquake that killed the children in Lajia also caused a landslide that damned the Yellow River in the Jishi Gorge. The water built up behind the dam until it spilled over the top and eventually caused the entire wall to collapse, sending a backlog of water downriver to flood the lowlands.

“The …. flood shares the main characteristics of the Great Flood described in ancient texts,” the study authors write. And it was just as devastating as the ancient stories suggest.

According to modelling projections, the flood water would have risen around 38 metres (124 feet) above normal river level, with flood rates of up to 500,000 cubic metres (132 million gallons) per second.

“That’s equivalent to the largest flood registered on the Amazon River, and the largest known flood on Earth in the last 10,000 years,” one of the researchers, David Cohen from National Taiwan University, told reporters during a press conference. 

Ross Chinese Miners Memorial Reserve Update

A Chinese Proverb reads: A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step. Saturday, 20 August saw that borne out, with the unveiling of the foundation stone for this reserve by Westland Mayor Mike Havill and Consul General Jin Zhijian.

Westland Mayor Mike Havill and Consul General Jin Zhijian
Westland Mayor Mike Havill and Consul General Jin Zhijian

Over 200 people were there to celebrate this auspicious event, with speeches by Mayor Mike Havill, Consul General Jin Zhijian, West Coast Member of Parliament Maureen Pugh, and local resident Biddy Manera, who has been driving this project.  

She pointed out how the project started with a group of Ross residents searching in the hills for historic heritage sites of the Chinese and European gold miners. They found sites, which then fed their appetite to find out more. With research, came the names and stories of some of the Chinese pioneers who were members of this community in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Biddy went on to pay tribute to the help and support given by, amongst others, Simon and Sandra Tam of Greymouth, Westland District Council and Department of Conservation on land parcels, the Ross community, the Department of Corrections and the generous support from the Chinese community for garden features. Victor and Sharon Cheng organised a funding event in July, which raised $18,675, and another successful fundraising event was held in Christchurch the night before the stone unveiling, organised by the Auckland and Christchurch New Zealand Chinese History and Culture Associations, which raised $84,000.

This will now enable the project to progress. It is hoped work will commence within the next two to three months on the groundwork, plantings and pathways.

The serpentine foundation stone was sourced locally and donated by jade carver Ross resident Steve Maitland, Westland Region Environment Network Incorporated Society (WRENIS) Vice Chair, and the etching of the stone was donated by Jamie Rhodes of Greymouth.

The Department of Corrections will play a significant role in the long-term maintenance of the site. Kelly Hill, Corrections West Coast Service Manager, said the significance of the gardens and other local memorial plantings, is something Corrections support within communities.

Afterwards, we all went over to the unique Ross Historic Empire Hotel for a marvellous lunch, the likes of which you would only get on the West Coast! All in all, a very satisfying day.



Talk of Treasure

A book that includes stories of ten young Chinese in Christchurch will be of interest to Christchurch members.

‘Talk of Treasure’, a second book by branch member Jane Hole (writing as Jane Carswell) will be published at the end of October by Makaro Press, Wellington.

The publisher writes:

‘Jane Carswell began her working life at Pegasus Press shortly after their publication of Janet Frame’s seminal novel ‘Owls Do Cry’, and years later published her own book, an award-winning memoir about teaching in China called ‘Under the Huang Jiao Tree’ [This book, published in 2009 by Transit Lounge Publishing, Melbourne, was launched in Christchurch by Professor Bill Willmott – a great honour for Jane and her book].  The road between one book and the other was a rocky one paved with self-doubt and publishers’ rejections, the experience provoking Jane to write again, this time about the troubled transformation between the private interior world of reading and the noisy exterior world of publication, between the books we read and treasure and the ones we write, which can so often feel like tarnished goods. Her way to manage this was by dividing her time between a busy life as a music teacher in Christchurch while looking after a succession of ten young Chinese guests in her home, and a quieter life exploring meditation and monasteries. But publication continued to elude her, so Jane journeyed to the place where Janet Frame grew up, to find the courage she needed to revise her manuscript one last time. Lyrical and literary, ‘Talk of Treasure’ is a compelling memoir about how to be a writer, and more simply, just how to be.’

Mandarin Corner


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