Our first meeting of 2016 was our AGM on 10 April. All office bearers with the exception of Jan Young were reappointed. Jan has given many years of service to our committee but did not wish to be reappointed. Jan and husband Andrew’s contribution to our branch over many years has been greatly appreciated. We were pleased to welcome Marian Sawers to our committee. For some time Ray and Cecilia Davis have kindly hosted most committee meetings in their home but this year most business has been conducted by email and phone. This seems to have worked well but I do miss Cecilia’s scrumptious afternoon teas. Branch membership remains steady at 25.
Following the Annual Meeting, Heather and Alistair Beeby who had recently been on the Society’s Photographers Tour to China gave a most interesting talk about their experience and showed many of the wonderful photographs they had taken.
Ann White attended the NZCFS National Conference in Tauranga in May and led a Society Tour to China in October.
In June, David Oliver who grew up in Pleasant Point and has been doing business in China for many years spoke of the rewards and challenges of conducting business in China.
In July, Richard and Ann White hosted a social function in their home to farewell Sunny Shan whose time as Mandarin Language Assistant at ARA Institute had come to an end. Sunny broke new ground by running Mandarin Language courses at the Institute.
In September, Mike Hardagon of Merino NZ and who is responsible for marketing their wool products in Asia gave us insights into the rewards and challenges of marketing into Asia.
In October, David Thew who practises Qi Gong and Thai Chi gave a fascinating demonstration of these arts. Dave has had significant success in overseas competitions and our members were very impressed and informed by his demonstration.
Another social evening was held in November, again in Richard and Ann White’s home, this time to farewell MLA Caroline. Ann and Richard provide a pleasant venue for these functions. We are grateful to Ann for keeping in touch with the MLA’s.
I accepted an invitation from the Chinese Consulate General in Christchurch to attend a performance by the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe. This was a truly amazing experience.
As always our annual Chinese New Year Dinner at the Golden Palace Restaurant was very successful with over 60 attending. Margaret Hunter arranged an appetising menu. Cecilia Davis sourced a great variety of prizes for the raffles. A great start to the Year of the Rooster.
Ray Davis has been our treasurer for many years. Not a demanding task but nevertheless an important one which Ray carries out efficiently. Over the years our branch has made generous donations to the Society’s He Ming Quing (Kathleen Hall) Nursing Scholarship. This year, for reasons which are unclear, no scholarships were awarded so we decided to withhold further contributions until the situation is resolved. Many thanks to Richard White for reviewing the Branch Financial Statements.
2017 is the 120th anniversary of Rewi Alley’s birth in Springfield, Mid-Canterbury, 90 years since he landed in Shanghai and 30 years since his passing in Beijing. To commemorate these anniversaries a collection of photographs about his activities in China were made available to branches. The committee hoped it would be possible to display the collection in Timaru but endeavors to find a suitable venue for the large collection were not successful.
NZCFS Branches were invited at very short notice to make nominations for the Society’s Prominent Persons Tour. Your committee acted very promptly and nominated a person whom we believed would be very suitable but we were not successful. We found the process most unsatisfactory and discouraging.
As you will see from our AGM notice we plan to have a serious discussion on the future of our branch at the meeting. While we have a good group of people interested in attending our meetings it is challenging to find people willing to take the responsibility of running the branch. We have been fortunate in attracting excellent speakers and we normally end up having a reasonable attendance. Another concern is that over the year we have welcomed several new people who appear enthusiastic about our meetings then do not return.
On a more positive note I wish to express my thanks to all who have participated in our branch activities over the past year and encourage you to attend our AGM on 30 April and share any ideas you may have for the future of the Timaru Branch.
My best wishes for the “Year of the Rooster”.
Timaru Branch President