Archives for July 2019


Rewi Alley was born in a small Canterbury town in 1897 but he was destined to make a name for himself half a world away during the tumultuous time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Rewi went to Christchurch Boys’ High School and was noted for his rowing and rugby skills. Sports ran in the family. One of his brothers became an All Black.

During the First World War, he fought in France with the NZ Expeditionary Force and won the Military Medal for bravery. After the war, he worked on a Taranaki farm and was fascinated by the “Red Peril” which he followed with articles in the Auckland Weekly News. His interest in Chinese matters only increased with every article he read so after taking lessons in Mandarin, he decided to visit China for himself. In 1927, he worked as a radio operator on a steamer destined for Shanghai. He soon got a job at the Shanghai Municipal Council as a fireman and quickly became chief fire inspector. He worked hard as a relief worker during the 1929 famine that took the lives of 6 million people. He did more relief work two years later during the great flood. read more