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Commemoration of Revi Alley highlights China-NZ friendship

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Added On September 30, 2019

 New Zealand-born writer Rewi Alley was a social reformer and educator, who spent 60 years living and working in China. 32 years after his death, Alley's memory continues to promote friendly ties between New Zealand and China.

 
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New Zealand writer Rewi Alley lived and worked in China for six decades after first moving to the Chinese mainland in 1927. As an old friend of the Chinese people, he contributed to their fight against fascism, to China's economic development, and to friendly ties between China and New Zealand.
 
Between 1942 and 1951, Alley spent about 10 years living in Shandan city in northwest China's Gansu province. According to Liu Xiaolin, an expert on Alley's life, Alley lived there as a peasant and spoke a local dialect when speaking to locals. He bought sewing machines and equipment for villagers and taught them to make clothes and shoes and other practical life skills. He also set up a vocational school.
 
During the 1940's, a critical time for the liberation of China, Alley helped local farmers learn modern skills like driving and maintaining trucks. He also helped train China's first oil workers to exploit the country's first oil field in Gansu.
 
Alley later moved to Beijing and devoted the next 30 years of his life to safeguarding world peace and international friendship.
 
In 1982, Beijing granted him honorary citizenship and in 1985, the Gansu provincial government named him an honorary citizen.
 
Alley died in Beijing in 1987. An inscription in memory of him written by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping reads: "Eternal Glory to the Great Internationalist Fighter."
 
Commemoration events honoring the memory of him have become important occasions for highlighting the friendship between New Zealand and China.
 
The granddaughter of Rewi Alley's younger brother travelled to China in 2017 to mark what would have been the pioneer's 120th birthday.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): SARAH STUART, Granddaughter of Rewi Alley's younger brother
 
"My grandfather was very supportive of his work there, so we were aware of it. When I traveled to China in 2017, I saw the scope of what he had done. I really appreciated his work a lot. I think he had forged a relationship very early on. It has established the beginning of a very sound relationship."
 
In September this year, a delegation led by the secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Gansu Provincial Committee visited New Zealand to mark 35 years of "sister city" ties between Gansu Province and Christchurch.
 
Friendly ties between Christchurch and Gansu were first initiated by Alley.
 
During their trip, the Gansu officials visited farms, water management projects, sister schools and the Rewi Alley Memorial Park in Alley's hometown. They also discussed future cooperation in agriculture and other fields.