The Rewi Alley Chinese School in Christchurch was established as a charitable trust in 1998, with the purpose of operating a Chinese language school for people of all cultures and to provide other support and assistance. It mainly operates on a Saturday, with hundreds of children on site learning Chinese language and culture, and it also provides bi-lingual holiday programmes and afterschool care.
The school employs a part-time principal and a full-time office administrator along with part-time teaching staff, but relies heavily on volunteers to support the paid staff.
The school previously operated from its own premises located on the Wharenui School grounds, where Rewi Alley’s father was the headmaster. However, it had to relocate at the end of last year to allow Wharenui School to expand. It now leases an administration block and classrooms from the University of Canterbury.
With a vision of strengthening understanding and pride in Chinese people, culture and language in New Zealand by delivering high-quality Chinese culture and language experiences, the school provides a range of classes to support academic learning as well as participation in cultural events. An open day was held on Saturday 30th January. There were about 150 people there, and the place was really buzzing, with children doing calligraphy and other cultural activities. Many boxes of books were available, some free and some for sale. It was a great opportunity for everyone to have a look at the facilities.
An official opening ceremony will be held on 27th March, which will include V.I.P speeches and musical and dance performances. MP for Ilam, Sarah Pallett will be in attendance, along with Cr Jimmy Chen as chair of the multicultural committee and our previous national president Eric Livingstone, who will say a few words about the importance of the school’s connection with Rewi Alley. There will also be some cultural performances followed by a tour of the premises and refreshments.
At its February meeting, the Christchurch branch committee agreed that from now on the revenue from raffles at its Chinese New Year banquets would be given to the school; this will be in addition to the $500 per annum we currently give them. The committee felt this was a tangible way of showing our branch’s appreciation of the good work the school does in promoting understanding of the Chinese language and culture in the local community. We are sure Rewi Alley would heartily approve.