Districts Tangibles Links

The Hurunui District has credible and tangible links to China via the Rewi Alley Connection that sets the Hurunui district apart in the annals of the New Zealand China relationship.

Rewi Alley had a stoic determination to improve the rural economy and the prosperity of the rural Chinese people which led him to import 25 New Zealand “blue blood” Corriedale sheep into China for the Shandon Bailie School in Gansu Province.

In 1947 these sheep were donated by a group Hurunui farmers from the Hawarden district, the shipment of sheep were organised by the late John Paterson, who became a lifetime friend of Rewi, along with the support of many others. Including the company Wright Stephenson, Mr by H. M. Sievwright of Tekapo who transported the sheep and Mr M. Wilkinson of Wellington who cared for them in Shandan.

The Sidey family Corriedale stud farm was one of those group of farmers who donated sheep and the direct descendants of those initial sheep are on display at the celebration John’s/David’s Grandfather corresponded regularly with Rewi Alley over many years.

A carpet was woven at the Shandan Bailie School, from the first clip of wool from 25 Corriedale sheep donated to the school and is exhibited in the Chinese Arts and Crafts collection and gifted to the Canterbury Museum by the late Irene Young of Christchurch.

Rewi Alley also arranged the exchanging of artefacts between New Zealand and China. an exchange of note were skeleton bones from the now extinct, giant, flightless, native New Zealand bird, the only Moa bone skeletons on display in China is on displayed in the Beijing Museum of Natural History.

These skeletons came from the Hawarden District in Hurunui. Joseph Hodgen discovered the skeletons on his farm in 1937, his grandson Michael brought these treasures of Moa Bones for people to appreciate our unique piece of history on this significant day.

Rewi’s facilitation in art and cultural diplomacy and the subsequent exchanges is a key reason why the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch holds a significant collection of nearly 1400 artefacts and antiques from China.


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