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Rewi Alley book republished for the next generation, 15 May 2017

 Thirty years after Rewi Alley’s death, a new biography is in print to introduce his achievements to younger generations of New Zealanders.

The book, published by the Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee and supported by the Rewi Alley 120th Anniversary Commemoration Committee Canterbury, is a refreshed, hardcover edition of Alley’s biography, released 120 years after his birth.

Written by his niece Philippa Reynolds in 1997, it details the life of the New Zealand-born writer, educator and political activist who dedicated 60 years to humanitarian causes in China.

Bernard Duncan and Dave Adamson presented a copy of the book last week (21 April, 2017) to Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.  [21 April, 2017, was 120 years from when Rewi Alley arrived in China].

Bernard Duncan, (left), Chair of the Christchurch China Sister Cities committee and Dave Adamson, Vice Chair of the Rewi Alley 120th Anniversary Commemorative Committee Canterbury, with a copy of the Rewi Alley book they gifted to Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, and the plate they received in return.

Bernard Duncan says:

 “Thirty years have gone by since Rewi passed away. Known and revered widely throughout China, but largely unknown in New Zealand, the need to introduce him to younger generations of New Zealanders and Chinese was a key motivator in republishing this biography. We’ve visited regions in China where he had worked in the 1930’s and the local people still talk about him and pay their respects at a memorial in their town.

“This new edition is a major refresh of the 1997 original by his niece Philippa Reynolds and the hard cover reprint contains many more photographs, most in colour, and is in both English and Mandarin. We hope it will be a fitting memento of his legacy.”

Alley was a prolific writer about 20th century China, translated dozens of books, and wrote extensively about the Communist revolution. One of the 20th century’s foremost humanitarians and a key figure in the establishment of the Chinese Industrial Cooperative movement, it was largely set up to promote grassroots industrial and economic development in China.

Mr Duncan said the Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee hopes such a visionary book will find a home in schools, libraries and universities.

“We hope language students and others will use it as a textbook where they can learn the story of Rewi Alley’s achievements and his legacy, his educational philosophy: ‘Hands and Minds together – Create and Analyse’ and his great love of the Chinese people.”

The commemorations team for the 120th anniversary of his birth also worked with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to develop an NCEA unit standard in high schools, which would include reading the Rewi Alley book. It will also be used in a schools competition where contestants would write an essay in their own words about Rewi Alley.

Official events to mark the commemoration of Alley’s birth will also take place in Christchurch in December, 2017, including a symposium featuring guest speakers from China.


For the full media release by Christchurch City Council, click HERE

If you wish to order a copy, click HERE for an order form.

If you attend NZCFS Conference in Christchurch, May 19 to May 21, you will be able to buy at discounted price $NZ40!


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