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National Notebook March 2012


 1952 – 2012 Sixty Years


18-20 May 2012      Owen Glenn Building,  University of Auckland

“By honouring our past, we find our future”

Our Conference this year will be held in our founding city, Auckland, from 18 to 20 May and Auckland Branch President George Andrews says they are “pulling out all the stops” to commemorate the 60th anniversary.  George and renowned set designer John Parker are combining their skills to prepare a spectacular reminder of what a magnificent story NZCFS has.

Current President Eric Livingstone reads a message from past President Robin Brown at a Banquet held 24 February 2012

The Conference opening on Friday evening includes a screening of the classic 1957 documentary “Inside Red China”, by director Rudall Hayward, in which Ramai Hayward gifts a cloak from King Koroki to Mao Zedong.

On Saturday, film footage, photographs and participants from Auckland and China will take us through this story.  Sharing the celebration as keynote speakers will be VIPs from China and New Zealand, celebrating our past, and looking to the future.

The Draft Programme and registration form is now available on the Conference section of this website.






Recent News

NZCFS President Eric Livingstone visits Rotorua, Tauranga and Hamilton 

Eric continued with his visits to Branches catching up with members and speaking on Tibet. 

Left top: Eric with Rotorua members;  middle with Hamilton members; bottom Hamilton member Stan Boyle enjoys the Branch dinner to welcome Eric.

Right:  Hamilton Branch President Jenevere Foreman, Eric and Ian Howat 


Congratulations from John Allen, Secretary of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Eric Livingstone received a letter dated 27 February from John Allen, Secretary of Foreign Affairs & Trade, congratulating our Society on the 60th anniversary of our first meeting on 27 February 1952. He says “I wish to acknowledge and commend the important work of NZCFS members past and present in promoting closer links between New Zealand and China over the past six decades.” He then discusses the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties and ends “Again, I congratulate NZCFS on this significant occasion, and wish members of the Society the best for their future endeavours in support of New Zealand-China relations”.

Sister Cities New Zealand 9~11 May 2012 Annual Conference to be held at Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington.

The Sister Cities New Zealand 2012 Conference will be a special occasion, as New Zealand celebrates the significant anniversaries of New Zealand’s diplomatic relationships with, USA (70 years), Japan (60 years), South Korea (50 years) and China (40 years).

“Celebrating Relationships” Focus: Youth, Education & Business Development

For queries please contact: Hiromi Morris, Programme Coordinator   Email: [email protected]


R.A.K Mason—Poet and First President NZ China Society

Mason: the life of R.A.K Mason by Rachel Barrowman
Victoria University Press  2003
Extracts from: Chapter 22 China 1957 –61

 “In April 1957 Mason was invited for the third time to visit China, and this time he was to accept the invitation from the Chinese People’s Association for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, for Mason and four others to come for a month long tour. To make up his party he asked film makers Rudall and Ramai Hayward, who were to make a documentary film of the trip; Irene Young, the secretary of the Christchurch of the New Zealand-China Friendship Association; and Dorothea (Mason). …… All were friends of the New Zealand-China Friendship Association. ………

 For the three months before their departure, he (Mason) devoted himself to research and preparation for the trip, while ‘going flat out to complete my landscaping projects, a strenuous job in winter’, which put him in bed for a week with flu. He also found time to involve himself in the protests against H-bomb testing in the Pacific, despite having made a ‘rule to keep all spare time and energy for China business’.  ….

 In China Mason was immediately impressed by the trees—’hundreds of miles of eucalyptys’ they saw on the train on the way to Canton – and by the vastness of the land. The groups itinerary took them from Canton north to Wuhan, at the confluence of the Yangtze and Hangshui Rivers, north again to Peking, then down to the eastern port city of Shanghai. In Canton, while the Haywards and Dorothea filmed the Pearl River boat people living on their junks on the river, Mason delivered his plants to the Botanical Institute.  …. (In Wuhan) they renewed old acquaintances, as some of the members of the Chinese Classical Theatre  had been to New Zealand the year before ….. The Haywards and Dorothea filmed at the  new iron and steel works while Mason and Irene visited the Hupei Forestry nurseries, were he was given gingko, Metasequoia and Cunninghamia (Chinese fir) seedlings to take back to New Zealand.   ……

The importance of theatre, mime, dance and oratory in Chinese arts corresponded with his own fascination with these forms, and he seemed to find in an infinity between Chinese and Celtic modes of cultural expression. Making a speech at a farewell dinner in Canton he ‘recalled that, on an occasion when too much demanded saying for prose to express, my Celtic forebears would invoke the right to use the poetic principle. The murmur of agreement showed that this was a well understood custom in China also’.   …..  (The Hong Kong Tiger Standard) printed a Chinese translation of the poem he had composed and read at a farewell dinner given for the group in Canton. The poem was ‘based on an old Irish saying “ One Hundred Thousand Blessings Be Upon Your Home”,’ he said:

May a hundred thousand blessings fall upon your house, O China,

May they fall like the small drops that splatter the dust,

When, after a long drought, the land lies warm and waiting,

May they alight on your roof-tops like the quiet doves of peace,  

Gliding down through the air as softly as the autumn poplar-leaves,

And may these blessings be around you in all your paths.

You and your children forever.

 The group was welcomed home by their fellow Auckland China enthusiasts at a reception organized by Shirley Barton. Mason wasted no time in dispatching the Alley books and art works to the Canterbury Museum and presenting (the plants) to the DSIR…..

The Haywards made three films with the footage they had taken: two short colour films, one about the children of China and the other about it’s art and architecture (New China and The Wonders of China), and a half hour black and white documentary, Inside Red China, in which Mason appears  trying on a sheepskin coat in a crowded narrow street in Peking, taking tea in the garden with David Kwok, the Director of the Wing-on Cotton Mills, and joining the people of Wuhan carting baskets of stones on carrying poles for the construction of the approaches to the new bridge smiling and joking. The films were released commercially in late 1958, screening with Rank feature films in cinemas around the country, and was subsequently acquired by the Department of Education for its national Film Library for use in schools”.


Why would you go to Kashgar?

William Sutcliffe writing in The Observer newspaper says: ‘The answer is simple. Kashgar hosts probably the best Sunday market in the world. Its very remoteness is what makes the market so extraordinary; partly due to the exoticism of the produce for sale, partly because it is the only real place to shop in an area the size of Western Europe. The market sprawls over a huge area, with almost nothing packaged up or freighted in or prettified in any way. The food, much of it unidentifiable, is sold in mounds and heaps, or, if you’re lucky, a sack. The meat on offer is in the form of live animals. Clothing is basic and functional. The only area of life in which the local people go for flamboyance or diversity is headgear. There appear to be as many stalls at the Kashgar market selling hats as anything else.

The only part of the market where there is any clear space is in the horse trading area; not because this is an unpopular product, but for the necessity of a test-drive track. The human crush only abates for this one clear strip of sand, the width of a tennis court, the length of three or four, in which horse purchasers can test out the wares.’

Kashgar is the starting point for the NZCFS 60th Birthday Tour from 29 August to 24 September 2012, which will visit the Sunday Bazaar and Handicraft Street,  the Atigar Mosque and Apakhoja Tombs and Old Town Kashgar. Karakul Lake is a day trip away on the Karakoram Highway, surrounded by the high mountains, Muztaghata and Kongur. 

Highlights of the tour include combining with the Shandan Bailie School in Gansu Province on the Silk Road for their 70th anniversary celebrations, and visiting heritage sights associated with Rewi Alley, and meeting Kathleen Hall scholars.

For more information go to our tours page


Remarks by Counsellor Cheng Lei

from the Embassy of P R China

Marking the 60th Anniversary of New Zealand China Friendship Society

(24 Feb 2012)

I am honored and delighted to attend the banquet this evening to celebrate the diamond jubilee of NZCFS.

Six decades ago, soon after the founding of New China, a group of committed New Zealanders formed the society to promote better ties with China. They reached out their hands of goodwill and friendship across the vast Pacific to the Chinese people in times of need. With dedication and perseverance, they helped to increase New Zealanders’ understanding about the New China, foster the diplomatic recognition of China by New Zealand, and bring our two peoples closer and closer. The seed of friendship they sowed at that time have grown to be a lofty tree bearing rich fruit now.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand. In the past 40 years, China-New Zealand relationship has made important overall progress in various areas and has brought tangible benefits to both peoples. The all-round cooperative relationship between China and New Zealand has become a model of the peaceful and harmonious co-existence between countries with different political systems and cultural backgrounds at different development phases.

You have worked hard to help make this possible and you have every reason to be proud of what you have done. Here, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for all committed members of NZCFS for your efforts and contribution in this regard.

Looking beyond, I firmly believe that with the efforts from both countries, the future of China-New Zealand relations will be much brighter and even more exciting. Just as in the past 6 decades, the Friendship Society will continue to play an important role in sustaining the vitality of our relationship.

Finally I would like to make a toast:

To the long-lasting friendship between China and New Zealand
and to the peace, prosperity and success of everyone present.

A banquet to start our year of celebrations was held in Wellington on 24 February, 2012. From the left Elaine Richmond with her back to the camera, Margaret Cooper, Vincent and Mary Gray, Bill Willmott, Di Madgin and Eric Livingstone. Mary, Bill, and Margaret are all past NZCFS Presidents and Eric is our current President.