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The Power of Art


Tauranga branch member John Hodgson has for many years been actively involved in building relationships between Jiangxi province, and the city of Nanchang in particular, and Tauranga. The Jiangxi Foreign Affairs Office approached him recently with artworks produced by children in the province. They showed Chinese, Māori and Pakeha children, arms entwined, sitting over China and New Zealand flags and surrounded by images of animals, trains etc. John immediately saw this as an opportunity to approach a local school to reciprocate with artworks.

children showcasing their artworks
Photo: Brydie Thompson


He approached Te Kura o Manunui School in Tauranga and the pupils were very eager to take part in an exchange of art. As well as producing the artworks, it was also an opportunity for them to learn a little about the food, language and history of China, and of course the dumplings sealed the deal! The intention is for the school to have artwork ready to be sent to Jiangxi at the end of the school term.

This year the Tauranga branch also hopes to launch a Tauranga secondary schools art competition, with a $100 prize for each of five categories. “I know teachers are busy, but you just have to give students a sheet of paper and let them go,” says John Hodgson. The categories include a portrait of the famous Rewi Alley and calligraphy. The intention is that as they research their work they will gain knowledge, and from that comes understanding.

The branch is also looking to create a first hand experience – a 10 or 12 day exchange trip to China for a dozen students. John says “We are looking to take traditional Māori culture to China. I’d like a group that would give young Chinese a good understanding. Perhaps touch rugby, mixed teams from both countries. Just an idea.”