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NZCA Conference

NZ Chinese Association 67th Annual Conference 2010

Wellington Chinese Sports and Cultural Centre, Mt Albert Road, Wellington
19 & 20th June 2010
By Adrian Thein

In warm, overcast conditions our minibus arrived at 8.45am on Saturday. Formal proceedings commenced with a welcome speech by Steven Young (NZCA President) and conference menu tabled (two days with items back to back from 9.00am to 4.30pm).

As part of the conference, NZCA celebrated its 75th birthday, an outstanding milestone with a speech from our Governor General that encapsulated the essence of the Chinese Community in New Zealand, contributing positively and widely in New Zealand.

Highlights and key observations of conference discussions:
  • Focus on succession planning - being transparent in forward succession planning for NZCA Executive officers as well as within branches.  Details of this strategy will be detailed in minutes to be shared with all NZCA branches.  Smaller branches noted this as a challenge given their ‘’small pool of people”.
  • Confirming who we are (NZCA) - This was useful exercise in keeping our goals and objectives current within the changing environment.
  • Integration of other communities of “similar” groups; especially other Chinese ethnic communities.  It was noted that difficulty with language and in some instances differences in political stance posed a challenge.
  • Focus & Future for younger members - “Future Dragons” connecting young Chinese professionals in Auckland is seen a positive new initiative. This group is a example of a method to filling the gaps between events like the NZCA Sports Tournament, (China) Winter Camp (Cultural) and the Leadership Conference. Similar models can be developed in other regions.  The team in Auckland are happy to share their knowledge.
  • Retain original/historical name for New Zealand (nau xei lan) – see article below.
  • Adopt the proposed NZCA Easter Tournament Code of Conduct
I am grateful for the opportunity to represent OSCA at this year’s conference that enabled me to meet members in other regions and gave me a greater appreciation of the internal processes and intricacies of NZCA as an organisation. To be part of the NZCA 75th year celebration was humbling. Thanks again for the opportunity.

Adrian Thein

NB: Adrian Thein attended the conference with OSCA President, Linus Chin.

Governor General’s Speech – NZCA 75th Anniversary Dinner
Wellington, 19 June 2010
Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand (Governor General of NZ 2006-2011)

I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language.  Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the evening (Sign)  
I specifically greet you: Steven Young, President of the New Zealand Chinese Association and Rosalind Young, Virginia Chong, Vice-President, Kai Luey, Immediate Past President, Harvey Wu, former president and Barbara Wu, Richard Leung, National Secretary;  Wang Zhonghua, Head of the Consular Division at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; Mervan Singham, Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs; Distinguished guests otherwise; ladies and gentlemen.   In the context of this evening’s celebration may I say: Nî hâo and Nimenhao. 

Thank you for inviting my wife Susan and me to attend this celebratory dinner as a part of your annual conference that marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the New Zealand Chinese Association. 

I would like to take an opportunity to speak of the contribution of Chinese New Zealanders to the development of our country and their role in widening the perspectives of all New Zealanders to our country’s relationship with China. 

On that latter point, nothing has better symbolised the warmth and breadth of the relationship between New Zealand and China than the visit to us this week of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.  Susan and I had the pleasure of welcoming Mr Xi to New Zealand at Government House in Auckland.  The ceremony included a Māori cultural welcome undertaken by the New Zealand Defence Force followed by a bilateral meeting. 

Later on Thursday evening, New Zealand Prime Minister Hon John Key hosted Mr Xi to dinner at Government House before the Vice President flew to Wellington yesterday to meet Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English and Speaker Hon Lockwood Smith. 

Also of significance was the significant trade delegation travelling with him, numbering more than 100 influential Chinese business people. The size of the delegation reflects the growing breadth of New Zealand’s economic relationship with China that has flowed since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 2008—New Zealand being the first OECD country to sign such an agreement. 
The success of the agreement can be measured in many ways.  As Trade Minister, Hon Tim Groser, noted in a speech in honour of the Vice-President’s visit, the increase in New Zealand exports to China in the last year to April 2010 was $NZ860 million.   At a time when exports to other markets have declined, due to the global recession, this has helped buffer the our economy from its worst effects.  The trade has not been all one way.  China has become New Zealand’s second largest export market, but also our second largest source of imports as well. 

The interest of Chinese people in New Zealand also seems to be growing.  For example, I understand the New Zealand Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo—with its massive pohutukawa tree as a centre-piece—has been drawing good attendances with the New Zealand press noting that Chinese media had dubbed it a “must see.”  

The focus on China continues to grow, impressing the world as it did with the magnificent facilities built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  We had the honour of representing the New Zealand Government at the Games and welcoming the Kiwi athletes.  As one who had visited China a number of  times in the past, the transformation in the last 30 years has been nothing less than astonishing. 

To what can one subscribe this warm and growing relationship?  Obviously, significant work has been undertaken by successive governments, over a number of years to build trust and respect.  This work has been reciprocated in kind by Chinese government and administrative officials. 

At the Head of Government level, from China, President Hu Jintao visited in 2005 and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2006 and New Zealand Prime Ministers have visited China in 2005, 2008 and 2009. These and other high level visits as a measure of the health of the relationship tell a story of increasingly regular contact. 

But more widely, however, it reflects a host of people-to-people contacts and relationships.   There have been people of Chinese descent in New Zealand since the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

The New Zealand Chinese Association, formed 75 years ago in 1935, has played a key role in developing those relationships.   Deliberately non-political and non-religious, it has a long-standing tradition of working to assist New Zealanders of Chinese descent with a wide array of social, cultural, recreational and educational initiatives. That work has included an annual Easter tournament, an annual winter camp to China, a leadership development programme and four highly successful “Banana” Conferences that have examined the history and contribution of Chinese New Zealanders. 

A key initiative by the Association was in drawing government and public attention to the injustices of the poll tax levied on Chinese immigrants. This work saw the Government in 2002 formally apologise to the Chinese community and, as an offer of reconciliation, to establish the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust.  The trust aims to strengthen the unique identity, culture and history of Chinese New Zealanders and to create greater understanding of their contribution. 

And what a significant contribution that has been.  From the pioneering work of Taranaki merchant and dairying leader, Chew Chong,  to businessman and stalwart member of the Association’s Otago branch, the late Hugh Sew Hoy,   the contributions have been many and varied. These include academics such as Professor Manying Ip and Dr James Ng, lawyer Mai Chen and mayors Meng Foon of Gisborne and Peter Chin of Dunedin. They also include leading businessman Jonathan Ling and the Hon Pansy Wong as New Zealand’s first Cabinet Minister of Asian descent. 

Since being appointed as Governor-General I have begun to lose count of the number of New Zealanders of Chinese descent I have invested with Royal New Zealand Honours.  In preparing what I might say this evening I attempted to go back and give some account of that contribution.  But there were so many—some of whom I am sure are here tonight—I was concerned that by leaving someone out, I might cause offence. Suffice to say, their contributions spanned many areas of community service.

As an aside, I will never, however, forget the investiture of the well known Percy Lee of Christchurch at Government House Wellington in April 2008.  The elderly and diminutive Mr Lee quickly walked in a sprightly manner up the ramp to receive his QSM. However, before I could even put out my hand to greet him, he raised his arms in the air, exclaimed "Oh Governor-General" and excitedly gave me a big hug, much to the amusement of everyone present—not the least myself. 

Chinese New Zealanders now form part of the growing diversity of our nation and there are now about 150,000 people of Chinese descent who call New Zealand home.  Some are new migrants, others were born here and many in this room are second, third and fourth generation New Zealanders. 

Chinese New Zealanders, symbolised by this association, have made this country their own.  The point is well summarised in a beautiful phrase in the opening of Manying Ip’s book Unfolding History, Evolving Identity. It is: “Where my heart is at ease, this is home.”
It seems appropriate in this, the Year of Tiger, that I thank the New Zealand Chinese Association for its significant contribution to our country and congratulate the organisation on its 75th anniversary. 

And on that note, I will close in New Zealand’s first language Māori, offering everyone greetings and wishing you all good health and fortitude in your endeavours.  No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

Article sourced from:
Linus Chin with the Governor General (Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand) and NZCA dignatories (past and present).