Thirty years after Rewi Alley’s death, a new biography has been printed to introduce his achievements to younger generations of New Zealanders. The book, published by the Christchurch China Sister Cities Committee in partnership with the Rewi Alley 120th Anniversary Commemoration Committee Canterbury, is a refreshed, translated hardcover edition of Alley’s biography, originally released 20 years ago.
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. A copy of the biography was presented on 21 April, 2017 to Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at a ceremony marking 90 years from when Rewi Alley arrived in China.
Bernard Duncan (left), Chair of the Christchurch China Sister Cities committee & Dave Adamson, Vice Chair of the Rewi Alley 120th Anniversary Commemorative Committee Canterbury, with a copy of the Rewi Alley biography 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.”
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 of Rewi Alley’s achievements, 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 has also worked to develop an NCEA unit standard in high schools and a schools competition where contestants would write an essay in their own words about Rewi Alley life or design a tourist poster or brochure for visitors to Rewi Alley’s links with Canterbury. Official events to mark the commemoration of Alley’s birth will also take place in Springfield, Amberley and Christchurch during December, 2017, including a symposium featuring guest speakers from China and New Zealand.