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A New Zealander in China

  • Titirangi War Memorial Hall 500 South Titirangi Road Auckland, Auckland, 0604 New Zealand (map)

Sponsored by the Westie Food Group

Rewi Alley seemed the last person on Earth you’d predict to play any part at all in revolutionary China, let alone a major part. A soldier, a farmer, a fireman and – eventually – the architect of one of the greatest labour movements of all time, his life story is as complex and enigmatic to outsiders as it seems perfectly ordinary to himself. And yet “the great friend to the people of China” – and personal friend to Mao Zedong – often struggled to fit in to his country of birth. At times vilified, ostracised, spied on and (finally) celebrated, Alley continues to challenge New Zealanders’ ideas of heroism, especially as relations between China and New Zealand ebb and flow. In this new biography by Alley’s cousin, novelist Elspeth Sandys, we get to know the quiet bloke from Canterbury who dabbled in poetry and decided “to go and have a look at China.” In a book that layers biography, memoir and novelistic features, Sandys presents a close, personal and comprehensive account of the kiwi who became a Chinese hero.

Hot on the heels of the launch of A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, we’re thrilled to have Sandys on stage with journalist Matt Nippert, talking about the man, his life, and what he means now to New Zealand, and the country he called home – China.

Elspeth Sandys is an author of historical fiction and has extensive experience as a stage and radio playwright including adaptations for the BBC. She has published short stories as well as long fiction and is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships in recognition of her work. In 2006 Elspeth was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature.

Matt Nippert is an investigative reporter for the New Zealand Herald, where he specializes in reporting on white collar crime and political lobbying by the wealthy and powerful. In 2014 he joined the Herald, and over the past five years, he has won most of New Zealand's top reporting, business, and investigative journalism prizes. His recent work has included exposing the secret New Zealand citizenship of Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel, using data analytics to reveal hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax avoidance by multinationals, and breaking news of a probe by intelligence services into apparent espionage from China targeting a Christchurch professor. Nippert has an honors degree in public policy from Victoria University, Wellington, and an MS from the Columbia School of Journalism earned while a Fulbright scholar.

Saturday and Sunday Sessions
8.30am - 5pm
Titirangi War Memorial Hall

Full Day Pass Includes 8 sessions $120.00 | $100 concession
Individual Sessions $18.00 | $15 concession
4 Session Pass | $60 | $50 concession
Tickets available from iTICKET*

A delicious lunch catered by Loaves and Fishes Online orders essential: by 1 September | $22

*transaction fees apply

Earlier Event: 8 September
Broken Pasts and Severed Futures
Later Event: 8 September