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Gong He Visit, 20 – 24 June

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Gong He Visit, 20 – 24 June

In early July, the International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC, also known by the nickname Gung Ho, or Gonghe), sent a delegation to New Zealand of five people from different parts of China for a brief visit, with the aim of learning more about Rewi Alley.

Gong He delegation
Gong He delegation

The delegation consisted of:

  • GU Xiaodong, Deputy Secretary General ICCIC
  • LI Shengming, Member Standing Committee, ICCIC
  • FENG Qu, Consultant to Changleyuan Development and Construction Management Committee , ICCIC
  • ZHANG Yunfan, Lawyer at Sichuan Wanfan Law Firm, member of ICCIC
  • ZHOU Xueqiang

Chinese Industrial Cooperatives were organisations established in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937- 1945) to support China’s war effort by organizing small-scale grassroots industrial and economic development. The movement was led through the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Association (CICA or Indusco) founded in 1938 by foreign (including Rewi Alley) and Chinese activists. Its international arm (International Committee) was founded in 1939 in Hong Kong to promote cooperatives in China.

The delegation’s first stop was Auckland, where it was welcomed by Rewi Alley’s foster son Deng Bangzhen, his wife Lu Bo and George CHow, President of the NZ Friendship for Peace Association. Ms Li Yurong (Caroline), Principal of Zealive Institute of New Zealand accompanied the group as interpreter during their time in the country.

From there it was on to Christchurch, where Christchurch Branch President Chris Goodwin and committee member Dave Adamson took them on a whirlwind visit to the Rewi Alley Information Centre at Springfield. Being the middle of winter, the weather had been very uneven for several days. However, thankfully, on the day it cleared and the sun shone.

 

 

From there, it was back into town and a tour of the Christchurch Arts Centre. During Rewi Alley’s time,it was Christchurch Boys’ High School. Local Rewi Alley scholar Dr Bruce Harding gave them a very interesting and informative tour of the locations on the site relevant to the great man.

They were also shown the site of the Wharenui School, where Rewi’s father was Principal.

At the end of the brief visit, tour leader Mr GU Xiaodong, Mr FENG Qu and Caroline Li were presented with signed copies of the book published in 2017 on Rewi Alley.

Next day the delegation flew to Palmerston North and, after completing their visit to Massey University, they held a symposium at the residence of Maurice Alley, the nephew of Rewi Alley, and his family members along with Chris Lipscombe, National President of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, and Dave Bromwich, Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC ). During the meeting, they discussed the new prospects for friendly relations between China and New Zealand in the current situation.

 

On behalf of Michael Crook, the President of the ICCIC, Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Gu Xiaodong delivered a speech. He stated that the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS) has played a positive role in promoting friendship, mutual trust, and understanding between New Zealand and China over the years. Both the ICCIC and the NZCFS are part of Alley’s legacy and have maintained close cooperation for many years. Mr. Gu Xiaodong then warmly congratulated Chris Lipscombe on being elected as the new President of the NZCFS, and He cordially invited President Chris Lipscombe to visit China and presented him with Chairman Michael Crook‘s Chinese calligraphy “Long Live China-New Zealand Friendship.”

 

Deputy Secretary-General Gu Xiaodong expressed his gratitude to Dave Bromwich for his unremitting efforts in promoting friendly exchanges between the people of China and New Zealand during his tenure as the National President of the NZCFS, and presented Dave Bromwich with Chairman Michael Crook’s Chinese calligraphy “Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind and Creating a New Chapter of International Friendship.”

The delegation sincerely invited Maurice Alley, and his relatives to visit China, experience Chinese civilization, witness China’s tremendous achievements in development, and continue to play a bridging role with the ICCIC. They presented Maurice Alley with Chairman Michael Crook’s calligraphy “The Spirit of Alley Shines Forever.” During the meeting, everyone had a delightful and engaging conversation.

 

Next day the delegation flew to Auckland and visited UUNZ School to inspect the Rewi Alley Commemoration Hall. They had discussions on educational cooperation with Principal Cathy Zhang and Dr Yang Jian, a former member of parliament.

 

 

Afterwards, they went to the Zealive Institute of New Zealand. During the visit, they presented Principal Caroline Li with Chairman Michael Crook’s calligraphy, “Passing on the Torch.” Accompanied by Principal Caroline Li, they then proceeded to Westlake Girls’ High School. To welcome the ICIC delegation, Westlake Girls’ High School arranged for three Chinese students and one Thai student to accompany the delegation during the campus tour, and engage in discussions.

 

The students’ expressive abilities showcased the school’s excellent education quality. Combining their visit to Massey University the previous day, the ICCIC delegation gained a comprehensive understanding of New Zealand’s world-leading education system. They also deeply appreciated and resonated with the educational philosophy of “ hand and mind, create and analyse ” proposed by Rewi Alley, which has been passed down through generations.

At the end of their visit, the delegation also conducted preliminary investigations for future projects of the ICCIC in China-New Zealand education, cultural tourism, and people-to-people exchanges, laying the groundwork for future cooperation.

It is heartening to know that after all these years, ICCIC is still very active and involved in projects Rewi Alley would approve of. Details of some of their recent projects are as follows:

“One Bowl of Rice” Campaign:

At the end of 2021, ICCIC and the Beijing One Heart Sphere Charity Foundation jointly launched the “One Bowl of Rice” campaign, a charitable activity initiated by the friendly Chinese people to donate funds to impoverished Afghan families to solve their food and clothing problems.

Opening of the Rewi Alley Former Residence in Shanghai (East China):

The Rewi Alley Former Residence, located at No. 4, Lane 1315, YuYuan Road, ChangNing District, ShangHai, was built in 1912. Rewi Alley resided there from 1932 to 1937.

ICCIC and the ChangNing District Committee collaborated to promote the opening of the former residence, including restoration, collection of historical materials, exhibition arrangement, and environmental improvement. The restored and exhibited Rewi Alley Former Residence officially opened to the public on December 2, 2022, coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Rewi Alley’s birth. Additionally, the Rewi Alley Former Residence was recognized as an “Internationalist Education Base” by the ICCIC.

Purchase in Place of Donations (Southwest China):

ICCIC initiated the “Purchase in Place of Donations” poverty alleviation model in BuTuo County, Sichuan Province.

Based on the innovative poverty alleviation concept of “purchasing in place of donations, sincerely assisting farmers, precise poverty alleviation, and jointly achieving moderate prosperity,” ICCIC sold high-quality specialty agricultural products from the supported counties of BeiChuan, Junlian, BuTuo, PingWu, and DaoFu. By encouraging consumer purchases instead of direct donations, the model aimed to increase farmers’ income through standardized production and diligent labour, thereby helping them escape poverty and achieve prosperity. The “Purchase in Place of Donations” poverty alleviation model was included in the “Guiding Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Winning the Three-Year Battle against Poverty Alleviation” in 2018 and was promoted to the whole society and the country.

Discovery of the Former Workplace of Kathleen Hall/He Mingqing (North China):

The DaTong ShouShan Hospital is where Kathleen Hall/He Mingqing worked. In December 2019, the Standing Committee of ICCIC officially designated the former site of DaTong ShouShan Hospital as an “Internationalist Education Base.” Since then, four large-scale activities have been held there.

Cultural and Educational Exchange 2023 Plan (Northwest China):

In July, efforts were made to organize the second “Revisiting the Rewi Alley Route” cultural exploration activity for Chinese and New Zealand youth. Cooperation with the Greater Bay Area Education Alliance was also promoted to facilitate the construction of demonstration bases for red cultural study trips in vocational education in Gansu Province.