Image (Left to Right): Ruawhetu Pokaia, Madam Tan Xiutian, Marissa Pokaia, Danny Tauroa
During the Chinese Friendship visit to Aotearoa in November 2011, the Delegation was hosted to a dinner by the New Zealand China Friendship Society in Christchurch. The Chinese Consul General Madam Tan was present. During the dinner Madam Tan asked if Chin-Māo would be able to assist in the opening ceremony of her new premises. Madam Tan, her husband, Zhang Jichun (Jason) and Vice Consul-General, Wang Xinmin were present as our Chinese delegation leader, Zhang Heqiang had asked if they could also attend as he and Madam Tan are close friends having worked together in various offices in the USA and Europe. An invitation was received and I attended as a representative of Chin-Māo.
The opening was held on Friday 2 Dec 2011 at 106 Hansons Lane, Upper Riccarton from 3.00pm to 5.00pm. Amoung the guests were also Matua Ricky Tau, Kaumatua for Ngai Tahu in the region, Ruawhetu & Marissa Pokaia (our delegation hosts with Linda Falwasser during the November 2011 visit), David Walker – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eric & June Livingstone – NZCFS, Prof Bill Willmott – NZCFS and Bob Parker – Christchurch Mayor.
The opening was based on a powhiri welcome (the wero and waiata being performed by the group we met in Shanghai at the Expo during our delegation visit there in late 2010). Unusually I was placed as tāngata whenua for the welcome of the Chinese Ambassador to NZ, Mr Xu Jianguo. However, as I had arrived with Ruawhetu and Marissa, the assumption may have been made that this was another one of my roles. Nothing lost as Matua Tau considered me as such when I recited our whakapapa to Rapaki.
Once the powhiri had been completed, the premises blessed by Matua Tau and Ruawhetu, the speeches were made, most notable of those being Matua Tau, David Walker and Madam Tan herself. Her speech, and general attitude toward things Māori, certainly gives us hope that if we do things the right way in Te Waipounamu, she will be our biggest advocate in time to come. Of note is that I was also introduced by Madam Tan to Zhihong Lu, Principal/Co-ordinator for Rewi Alley Academy (Chinese School, Education & Cultural Centre) and Mary Hinsen Academic Consultant to the Rewi Alley Academy. Chin-Māo is working toward including a Kura from Te Waipounamu in a language, student teacher exchange Kaupapa, so these two people and Chris Goodwin, NZEducationz Consultancy who specialises in Visa, Homestay, Insurance, School Liaison and Enrolments could become quite critical in how we move forward with one of our focus’ being on education.
The event was a success on several levels, but being able to talk to Madam Tan, her husband, Jason and Vice Consul-General Wang again was a highlight as well as spending time with Ruawhetu and Marissa and re-engaging with our NZCFS counterparts was also enjoyable, especially ones such as Prof Willmott and Eric Livingstone who are great advocates for us within their Society.
New Zealand China Māori Friendship Charitable Trust