E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Welcome to the visitors from China who have come to acknowledge and celebrate their shared history and bonds with Rewi Alley today.
Nǐ hǎo huān yíng dà jiā
I also acknowledge the Mayor of Hurunui District, Winton Dalley, Hon Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch, and David Ayers, Mayor of Waimakariri District Council.
Thank you for inviting me to be here today. I am pleased to come to Amberley to take part in the commemorations in honour of Rewi Alley – and to celebrate the friendships that have grown between the people of this area and the people of Changping and Honghu City.
I welcome this opportunity to acknowledge a remarkable New Zealander, a man who deserves to be as well known in his country of birth as he is in his adopted country of China.
These commemorations, 120 years after his birth, 90 years after his first arrival in China and 30 years after he died in Beijing – will contribute towards greater appreciation of his achievements and his work to build friendship between China and New Zealand.
Rewi Alley lived through a period of massive geopolitical upheavals. He endured the horrors of war in the trenches on the Western Front in the First World War; he witnessed the Japanese invasion of China; and he saw the rise of a Communist government in China.
His time in China was to be a life-changing experience. He found new purpose, turning his strong sense of service and considerable energy to transforming people’s lives through education and training.
His dedication to education must have stemmed from his own schooldays on this very site. A garden of reflection here, where he spent his formative years, is an appropriate way to honour someone who was both a practical man of action, and on the other, a poet and scholar of history.
China and New Zealand share a love of gardens, both in terms of envisioning what might be achieved, putting in the hard work, and then enjoying the beauty, respite and inspiration that they provide to us.
I agree with the Chinese proverb that people who plant gardens also plant happiness.
I am looking forward to seeing this garden, and like all visitors in the future, I will looking forward to seeing how the fusion of Chinese and New Zealand elements tells the story of the friendship between our two countries, and the vital part played by Rewi Alley in planting the seeds for that friendship.
Xiè xiè dà jiā
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa