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Goodbye to the Bull, the year that was.


Greetings to all members and supporters.

The year is coming to a close. The past year has been far from normal. It was also the year when we lost two of our most respected senior members, Christine Ward and Bill Willmott. We celebrate the important contributions they both made, and the depth and sincerity they brought to the NZCFS, and express our sympathy to their families.

The impact of the pandemic has affected us all individually, and our branch activities. Good planning has been thwarted too often, and activities we would normally plan for and promote has been delayed. But there have been some achievements that slipped through the lockdowns!

The official release and promotion of the He Mingqing booklet and video took place in Hamilton, followed by an international webinar on July 29, conjointly hosted by Beijing Youxie and the Norman Bethune Spirit Resarch Asscociation, with contributors in New Zealand and China where the documentary was screened for the first time.

This was tremendous timing for Kathleen Hall’s 125th anniversary year. NZCFS website, that is currently being rejuvenated, now has an improved presentation of the Kathleen Hall story – including the video, the booklet, the scholarship recipients and more.

Congratulations to Miao and her team, and all who have contributed to this ongoing story over the years, both in New Zealand and in China. For through the Kathleen Hall scholarship and promotion of her story, many active relationships have been maintained and established.

The Rewi Alley Commemoration Hall was established at the NZ Bailie Training Base in the UUNZ building, Symonds St, Auckland. Formally opened by international zoom meeting, the report is available here.

This is a great contribution to promoting the Rewi Alley story to New Zealanders. Jimmy Chen and his wife Cathy have been active in promoting the Hall to High School principals in Auckland and has received positive responses for visits to be arranged for students when the traffic light system allows. There is also ongoing research and discussion around ways that Bailie education and Gung Ho style cooperatives may be able to be promoted within NZ society.

This being the 100th year of the founding of the CPC, there have been several international webinars organised that I have been invited to speak at, organised by different Chinese organisations, including Beijing Youxie and National Youxie. See below*

In New Zealand, an event organised by the Chinese Embassy screened the 1979 Geoff Steven documentary film on Rewi Alley. Forewords words from Ambassador Wuxi and Rewi Alley.

Next year is the 125th anniversary of Rewi Alley, so expect a big year. To celebrate this, and Kathleen Hall, NZCFS tours are offering a Rewi Alley and Kathleen Hall Heritage Tour, which we (optimitically) hope to be able to deliver in September. The details and promotions are emerging, but a foutine draft is available here:

NZCFS Tours return, featuring a good range of sites and relationships relating to both these heroes, but with many other highlights on the road.

NZCFS Tours return! – NZCFS China Tours

In early December I was an invited speaker at a meeting with Hebei Normal University, at the opening of a New Zealand Research Institute, which seeks support from NZCFS. More details will emerge, but it is an indication that in China at least, NZCFS continues to be held in high regard. And on the same day, as a vice-director of the RA Research Institute at Lanzhou City University, I participated in a meeting to review the activity of the year passed, and consider activity for the year ahead. I promoted the concept of establishing an online course for cooperative promotion, along the lines of our cooperative project work since 2008, but with opportunity to reach a far wider catchment of participants, offering a certificate or diploma. I was pleased to hear subsequent speakers affirming this as a positive suggestion.

Other highlights:

NZCFS Youth has been established, and provides a place for young members to get involved. I look forward to learning of some exciting activity that attracts and sustains our young membership. This will include engagement with young people in China. Young people, connect with an email to [email protected] . The introduction was first posted here: The NZCFS Youth Take

A site for NZCFS Archives is underway, and some collections from around the country are being amassed in Whanganui, the original centre for the “Whanganui Computer”. Yes, scanning through the archives we came across letters from then president Bill Willmott seeking reassurances from David Lange and Robert Muldoon that membership of NZCFS will not be considered a subversive activity! More on these two initiatives will follow.

Several branches managed some very good activities based around Chinese culture and language. You are the face of NZCFS in public, so well done those activists!

So, the year of the bull did not harvest a bumper crop for us in very many areas, except to confirm solid relationships with China can survive, and branches remain committed. Next year, we can look forward to some action. The tiger may bring us courage, if not a little danger! More about that then. Have a good break free from lockdowns.

International webinars:
Focusing on international friends of China, Rewi Alley has been a focus, but I have taken the opportunity to include Kathleen Hall and Isobel Thompson into at least one of my deliveries. They include the Beijing International Forum on People to People Friendship and the BPAFFC forum a century of friendship towards a shared future. All China Youxie and Gung Ho webinar from Yanan titled Legacy of Edgar Snow in New Era. Elspyth Sandys joined me, my speech is here: Rewi Alley and his legacies

Then I was invited to record a speech to an international forum run out of Guizhou province. This forum, titled “Rural Revitalisation and Ecological Civilisation”, has been running biannually for some years. For my speech, go to Ancient Wisdom in a new Policy Framework.