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The Story of the New Zealand China Friendship Society


The Story of the New Zealand China Friendship Society (as at 15 February 2022)

NZCFS has a 70 year history. As older members drift away, and new and younger people are drawn to us, we are in danger of losing our past activity, and new members are not well informed about what we have achieved. Here is an initial attempt to capture some of the more significant activity and achievement, and in particular that of the years from 2000 on. This is a work in progress, but here is a start to the project.
Dave Adamson and Dave Bromwich have compiled this summary.

The Story of the New Zealand China Friendship Society

NZCFS History

The founding of the New Zealand China Friendship Society was at the direct request of the famous New Zealander Rewi Alley, who spent 60 years of his life in China, working for the good of the common people. He could see the impact the new China was going to have on the world and in particular on the people of New Zealand, and he wished them to be educated as to who and what the Chinese were.

The society’s role could be summed up in “the desire to offer the hand of friendship to the Chinese people, and educate New Zealanders about this amazing country and her people”.
NZCFS’ mission statement is to promote goodwill, understanding and friendship between the people of New Zealand and China.

The society has 10 branches:  Auckland, TaurangaHawkes BayRotorua, Hamilton, Manawatu, WhanganuiWellingtonNelson and Christchurch with about 500 members.

Alistair Shaw’s History of the NZCFS

Catalogue of Activities



Council for International Development (CID) 
NZCFS is a member of this organisation, along with around 50 other non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (Youxie)
Youxie is the accepted abbreviated form for the ‘Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries’, and this term is generally used throughout our Society when referring to the same.

It is a national people’s organization and was set up to enhance friendship with people of foreign countries to further international co-operation in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. It has established relations of friendship and co-operation with nearly 500 non-governmental organisations and institutions in 157 countries.

It also has branches at Provincial and City levels as standalone institutions, and branches at lower levels of administration that are often amalgamated with Foreign Affairs Offices at these levels.

Youxie organises visits to and from China, sending delegations to commemorative meetings, forums, public lectures etc., providing courses and sending Chinese citizens on foreign courses.

The NZCFS works closely with Youxie to facilitate friendship, education and business opportunity delegations both ways. Currently NZCFS has formal, or very close, relationships with All China (National level), Beijing and Shanghai Youxie, and informal connection to Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Urumqi. Other Youxie can be approached through the National level. Furthermore, through their sister city relationships, some branches have good connections in other cities.

Working with and supporting sister city links in New Zealand


Society branches around the country give support and work with local sister city committees when they receive delegation visits from their Chinese cities.

Hosting delegation visits from China
Delegations visit from China on a regular basis. These could range from mayors, city managers, business people etc through to ordinary Chinese citizens. The visits are usually arranged either through Youxie or through the relevant city or provincial foreign affairs office. Often the society is approached to offer the hand of friendship and support. This usually takes the form of welcoming banquets, site visits, arranging meetings with local mayors etc etc. At times it can include home hosting. At all times the society works to ensure the visitors’ needs are catered for.

Educational Institutes

Shandan Bailie School
When their school in Shaanxi Province was threatened by the Japanese advance in 1944, Rewi Alley and George Hogg, plus the 60 or so students packed up and trekked to the old derelict city of Shandan on the edge of the Gobi Desert. There Rewi rented some old temples and turned them into classrooms and workshops, and appointed George Hogg as headmaster. From the beginning the school was helped by New Zealand friends, who later formed the New Zealand China Friendship Society.

Rewi named it the Shandan Bailie School after his friend, the American missionary Joseph Bailie, who had very enlightened ideas on education. The timetable allowed for “half-work, half-study”. In the mornings half the school was engaged in practical tasks, while the other half had formal lessons. In the afternoons the two halves switched over. Today, the school has several thousand students. The society has an ongoing programme of providing support to the school, be it through visits to the school of New Zealanders who can add value or the hosting of teachers from the school to New Zealand to further their education, improving their level of English being a main part of that

Read on about the Shandan Bailie School.

Teachers, projects
NZCFS has facilitated regular placement of New Zealand teachers to Shandan Bailie School since Tom Newnham first went there at the request of Rewi Alley when the school was re-established in 1987.

NZCFS have also delivered a number of projects in Shandan, in close association with the school. These include cooperative development projects, and a women’s legal project through Shandan Women’s Federation (see below).

Michelle Elia starts teaching at Shandan Bailie School
First week in Shandan – Jane Furkert (Sept 2014)

Lanzhou City University
After the establishment of the Peoples Republic in 1949 the new Government moved the Shandan Bailie School to the provincial capital of Lanzhou, where it became part of a new technical institute, the Bailie Oil School, associated with the new oil refinery at Lanzhou.

Rewi Alley Memorial Hall and Rewi Alley Research Centre at Lanzhou City University College
Opened in 2017 on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of Alley’s birth is a three-story Rewi Alley Memorial Building. The memorial hall operates as a free public museum and is within the grounds of the Lanzhou City University Bailie Campus (the site of the former Bailie Oil School, the successor to Rewi Alley and George Hogg’s Bailie Vocational School in nearby Shandan). The Memorial Hall contains an extensive and permanent display of Rewi Alley history and chronicles his contributions as an educator and internationalist in China. The hall is open at normal opening hours and can be found adjacent to the Rewi Alley bust at the Bailie Campus of the University

Women’s Federations

NZCFS has established several working relationships with Women’s Federations around China. In Guangxi, Gansu and Shaanxi Provinces, several projects were implemented with them. These include, cooperative promotion, ‘women’s legal rights’ and women’s health’ projects. Most notably we have implemented several women’s cooperative projects in Shaanxi, including trainees from Ningxia, Sichuan and Gansu provinces. These include promoting cooperatives lead by women, with a special project targeting women’s handcrafts.



NZCFS has implemented a wide range of community development projects in China, with funding from several key sources.

NZAID KOHA (a NZ government fund administered under MFAT, and available to registered NGOs) has allowed implementation of the following projects

  • Rural Development cooperative promotion
  • Coop promotion projects
  • Women’s legal project
  • Women’s Health Project

Cooperative Case Studies

Rewi Alley Friendship and Exchange Fund (RAFE)
In 2012, the China Oceania Friendship Association (COFA) committed to provide 1 million RMB, at the rate of 200,000 RMB per year (approximately NZ$ $40,000) to the NZCFS in five consecutive years before the 1st of October of each year, commencing in 2012.

The intention was to mainly support the following types of projects:

  • Projects commemorating the legacy of Rewi Alley;
  • Friendly exchange projects agreed by both parties;
  • Other projects in terms of cultural and art exchange, educational exchange and youth exchange which aim to promote China-New Zealand friendship.

Applications were called for annually from society branches for projects which fitted the criteria as listed above. Over the five years 27 projects were funded, covering a wide range of activity from schools competitions, exchange of youth orchestras, provision of books to schools in China to educational exchanges.

Simon Deng Li Arts & Culture Exchange Fund
Deng Fund Summaries 2012 – 2019 (pdf)

To mark the 60th anniversary of the founding the New Zealand China Friendship Society and to reflect the spirit of the Rewi Alley Friendship & Exchange fund, the NZCFS and Mr. Simon Deng Li entered into a joint Memorandum of Understanding.

Mr. Simon Deng Li committed to provide 1 million RMB, at the rate of 200,000 RMB per year (approximately NZ$ $40,000) to the NZCFS in five consecutive years before the 1st of October of each year, commencing in 2012.

All funds to be used to assist the NZCFS consolidate and deepen friendship between the peoples of China and New Zealand, especially through youth, arts and culture exchanges, including:

  • Educational and Youth exchanges which aim to promote China-New Zealand friendship.
    • Exhibitions, performances, publications of all kinds including but not limited to books, films, and new media that advance friendship and understanding between the peoples of China and New Zealand.

Applications are called for annually from society branches for projects which fit the criteria as listed above. Since 2012, 33 projects have been funded, covering a wide range of activity from media tours, youth ambassadors, art exchange and several youth cultural exchanges.

Kathleen Hall (He Ming Qing)
Kathleen Hall was a New Zealand missionary nurse in China during 1923 – 1941, who worked in poor rural areas under extremely difficult conditions, and trained local nurses to work alongside her. She became acquainted with the deplorable living conditions in the Hebei mountains and in 1934 she obtained the permission of her Bishop to leave the cities and set up her own cottage hospital in the mountain village of Songjiazhuang. She was also swept up in the war against Japan. Not only did she nurse the sick and wounded, but time and time again she smuggled medical supplies through the Japanese lines to Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian surgeon who was in charge of medical services for the Chinese 8th Route Army.

In 2000, her clinic was rebuilt with a donation of $15,000 from our Society, which was tripled by a subsidy from the New Zealand Government. The completion of the rebuilding project was celebrated in June 2000 and the clinic was officially reopened in July 2001.

The He Ming Qing (Kathleen Hall) Memorial Scholarship was established in her honour by the New Zealand China Friendship Society to provide three to four year scholarships for Chinese from poor rural areas, enabling them to complete nursing training in order to return to their villages and work for improved health standards.

To date, this scholarship programme has trained ten young Chinese women to become qualified nurses and work in community nursing vocations.


In the early years of the PRC NZCFS was one of the few organisations that could manage tours to China, with China Youxie. In more recent years, tours have been managed independently. NZCFS Tours have visited every province in China, and provide specialised itineraries that include, but are not based around, the famous tourist sites. As educational tours, they reach out to ordinary people through our partnerships in China. NZCFS quality tours provide depth, engagement, culture, scenic wonders, history and unforgettable experiences, and aim to provide an in depth understanding of China.

Tours are promoted on our dedicated website.

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