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NZCFS Wellington Branch May 2017 Newsletter


Next Branch Meeting

In Association with NZ Institute of International Affairs Wellington Branch

                                 Friday, 26 May 2017 at 5:45pm (Note change of date!!)


Prof Ole Döringwill speak on


Professor Ole Döring at Institute of Sinology/China Studies, Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) (Free University Berlin) in Germany, is an internationally-known bioethicist and sinologist. His key expertise include Bioethics, Confucianism, China Studies (Culture and Philosophy) and Kantian Ethics.
In 2009, he was granted an award for his outstanding contribution to bioethics and medical humanities in China by the primer Chinese journal of Medicine and Philosophy on behalf of Chinese Association of Science and Technology.

map of Connolly HallConnolly Hall
Guildford Terrace, off Hill Street, Thorndon, Wellington (see map)
(Car park up Guildford Terrace beside Connolly Hall)

Due to change of date our caterer is unavailable to provide a meal after this meeting.

Wednesdays 21 June, 19 July, 16 August, 20 September, 18 October and 15 November (last meeting of 2017).

NZCFS extends a warm welcome to Fabian Brunner, Nathalie Harrington, James Hurley, Kelsey Plas and Kihyun Song. We hope to see you all at our future meetings.

We are pleased to announce that Hugo Kan, Michael O’Neill and Diana Tam were co-opted to the committee at the committee meeting held on 6 April.
Vice President: Nathalie Harrington has been co-opted as Branch Vice President. Michelle McCarthy regretfully had to step down for personal reasons but would remain on the committee.For more information on the committee see Wellington branch webpage.

Please remember that 2017 membership subscriptions renewals are now due. Please renew if you have not already done so – download form here 

SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING to be held at 5.35pm, 26 May 2017
Proposed Amendment To Rules of The Wellington Branch:

Notice was given in the email to members dated 20 March 2017 that a Special General Meeting will be held at the May branch meeting to amend Rule 8.2(g):
Such additional Committee members, if any, as the Committee may co-opt, not exceeding three in number.
to read:
Such additional Committee members, if any, as the Committee may co-opt, not exceeding five in number.


Our April talk was given by Helene Wong on her memoir, “Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story”, which covers her own experiences growing up and living in New Zealand, and how the NZ Chinese community has fitted in to mainstream New Zealand (or not) over the past century.

Helene Wong was born in Taihape 1949 to Chinese parents. Her mother was born in Wellington in 1911, and her father arrived in New Zealand in 1917 at the age of eight. Until about the 1980’s she never considered her Chinese heritage, thinking of herself as a New Zealander. However, her first visit to China made her begin to question the identity she had created for herself. During a stay in the United States she began to study Chinese culture, then on her return to New Zealand, she met someone from the village in China her father was born in. As a result of further research, she can now trace her Chinese ancestry back to the 1200’s, and she finds this knowledge of great personal benefit.

She then spoke about the way the Chinese community has been perceived in New Zealand over the years, starting with the influx of Chinese miners to Dunedin in the 1860’s up until the present day. Despite receiving praise from some New Zealanders, the majority were against Chinese immigration to New Zealand, and tried to limit this by discriminatory measures such as poll taxes, denying Chinese the right to be naturalised and preventing the wives and children of Chinese men working in New Zealand to join them here.

Attitudes began to change during the Second World War, when China was seen as a valuable ally against the Japanese. Coupled with the desire of most of the NZ Chinese community to assimilate into mainstream New Zealand, and their relatively small number with respect to the rest of NZ society, this led to a reasonably successful integration, although some discriminatory measures were still in place.

However, the upsurge in Chinese migration to New Zealand in the 1980’s and 1990’s led to a resurgence in anti-Chinese feeling throughout the country. Although unlike in previous years there was no official discrimination, racist stereotyping (“can’t speak English properly”, “bad drivers”) became common again and several newspapers ran articles claiming the increase in Chinese immigration was having bad effects on NZ society.

Helene concluded her talk with an admission that she was no longer as confident as she used to be that Sinophobia was a thing of the past in New Zealand. She felt that there is a racist element in New Zealand society and that recent political events in New Zealand and abroad could give it encouragement. At the same time, she felt there were signs of hope in the willingness of other parts of New Zealand society to oppose this, and also the new found assertiveness of Chinese New Zealanders to stand up for themselves and their community.                                                                                              Text by Gerard Coyle. Pictures supplied by Diwen Cao.


This year, our conference will be held in Christchurch May 19 To 21. The theme is:
Rewi Alley “The Spirit Continues” as we celebrate three milestones: 

  • The anniversary of 120 years since his birth,
  • His first landing in Shanghai 90 years ago, and
  • His passing 30 years ago.

For details and registration form, please click here.
Wellington branch committee has decided as in previous years to subsidise the registrations of those members attending by $60 each.  Please let the Secretary know if you are interested.
Note that early bird registration at $110 has been extended till 16 May .


On 12 April, The Wellington Chinese Garden Society held a very successful fund raising launch at Te Wharewaka o Poneke Function Centre, Frank Kitts Lagoon. 

In spite of the rain and holiday commitments there were over 150 attendees, including the Mayor and several City Councillors, the Chinese Counsellor and staff from the Chinese embassy, MPs Grant Robertson and Dr Jian Yang, community leaders, children and parents. In the course of the afternoon there were a number of items that included a Lion dance, children’s choir, pledges and donations by many individuals and organisations.

The job of MC was very enthusiastically performed by Laurie Foon, who commented proudly on her one-eighth Chinese ancestry. Speeches were heard from the Chinese Counsellor, Mr Qu Guangzhou (representing the Chinese Ambassador), Mayor Justin Lester, Harvey Wu (President of the Wellington Chinese Garden Society) and Esther Fung, who all stressed the importance and relevance of the Garden of Beneficence for Wellington and New Zealand.

The Garden of Beneficence on the Wellington waterfront will symbolize the strong relationship between New Zealand and China. It will showcase many elements of Chinese culture, and will celebrate Chinese contributions in New Zealand. Above all, the Garden of Beneficence will engender much pride and a strong bond between all New Zealanders, Chinese and its’ many local and overseas visitors
                       by Dr Robert Lau, NZCFS Wellington representative on Wellington Chinese Garden Society Committee


The New Zealand China Friendship Society joined the Wellington Chinese Association and other community groups, for the ANZAC Day wreath-laying service at the cenotaph by Parliament.

Our Committee members Diana Tam (front row, right) and Hugo Kan (back row, second-left) appreciated the opportunity to get together with other groups to commemorate those who laid down their lives for this country.

                                                 by Diana Tam                                                                                                                                     

汉语角  Room 103, 24 Kelburn Parade, Victoria University of Wellington

Mandarin Corner was established in 1995 by NZCFS as a weekly event where students learning Chinese can meet with native speakers for conversation and cultural activities in a friendly, relaxed setting. It is now run in partnership with the Confucius Institute at VUW with the help of Mandarin Language Assistants.
Open to all levels, beginner to advanced, and attendance is free. Saturdays 3.15-5pm (except during school holidays).  For more information contact Xueqing Cheng at [email protected].
Note:  No further classes are held in May until Saturday, 27 May.


Premier Li Keqiang at the entrance to the exhibition

On 28 March, during a gala luncheon in Auckland, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English viewed a display of fourteen photographs from the NZCFS photo exhibition “Rewi Alley in China”.

For more details from the NZCFS website, click here.

The visit also generated interest from the representatives of Xinhua, the Chinese state media, and was covered by them in both Chinese and English. Click here to go to the Xinhua coverage.


 ”If People Are Of One Heart, Even The Yellow Earth Can Become Gold”

Wellington members attended the much anticipated “Reception to Commemorate the 90th Anniversary of Rewi Alley’s First Arrival in China” at the Chinese Embassy on 27 April 2017. 

Attendance by a wide range of people, both young and old, was testament to the enduring recognition of Rewi Alley’s contribution to the New Zealand – China relationship.  The audience was treated to a screening of a short documentary about Rewi Alley’s life and experiences, both in New Zealand and China, followed in true Chinese style by a banquet dinner.  Click here to view the documentary.

Michael Powles, NZCFS National Honorary Advisor and former Wellington Branch President, was among the many distinguished speakers. He spoke warmly of Rewi Alley’s influence and his legacy’s importance to the ongoing New Zealand – China relationship.  The saying still holds true that “If people are of one heart, even the yellow earth can become gold.”  In other words, a “friendship built on strong foundations will support a robust economic and wider relationship”.  You can read Mr Powles’ speech in full here    

Wellington Branch President Luke Qin was in China with an NZCFS delegation attending the Rewi Alley commemoration event at the Great Hall of the People and following Rewi Alley’s footsteps in Honghu and Shanghai.  He sent his best wishes for the Embassy event.                                                           By Nathalie Harrington


Te Papa’s history curator Kirstie Ross writes about the impact that Rewi Alley had on China and spoken English, 90 years after his arrival there.  Read it here.

NZ Contemporary China Research Centre Seminar
Thursday, 18 May, 4.30pm, RH104 Rutherford House, Victoria University

In January this year, the US president Trump declared that US would quit the TPP agreement accomplished just one year ago. Where should TPP go after the US decision to quit? Is it possible for China to embrace the TPP? Associate Professor Liqiang Yang from China will discuss the above topics from the angles of rulemaking and trade gains.  For more information about the seminar, check here.

The full PDF version of this newsletter is available at Wellington Branch May 2017 Newsletter

NZCFS Wellington Branch – celebrating 60 years of promoting friendship, understanding and goodwill between the peoples of New Zealand and China