#21 Kiwis Making A Difference

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Edge Message #21 from Brian Sweeney, producer NZEDGE.COM


Late last week the senior writer at nzedge.com, Paul Ward (he’s 24)
came to me with a worried look. “The Alley story is getting to be longer than Rutherford’s,” he said. I replied that there was probably a good reason: compelling life story, beneficial impact on the world, extreme blend of the classic Kiwi characteristics of ordinary/extraordinary, personal endangerment, and finally, rapturous international acclaim.

Rewi Alley’s life story was all this and more: he was a social reformer, educator, fireman, writer, poet, translator, great internationalist, industrialist, revered citizen, potter, soldier, a hero and a friend of China. Edgar Snow, the famous American journalist, wrote: “Rewi Alley is unique because he has achieved greatness in a country where few foreigners ever manage to achieve an authentic ripple.” He was the most travelled European in the Chinese interior and its ‘white veteran’, an associate of Mao and Che Guevara. Author of 66 books, always with the aim of bringing about a greater understanding of his second homeland and its people. The man who introduced ‘Gung Ho’ into the Western idiom (meaning, simply, “work together”).

Rewi Alley is a quintessential edge story. We haven’t made it easy –
it’s over 7,000 words, but when you read it, you’ll realise why.

My thanks to Geoff Chapple, Alley’s biographer, From Scratch veteran and now of the Te Araroa Trust (http://www.teararoa.org.nz/Welcome.html), for his support and permissions. The aim of the trailblazing Te Araroa (meaning ‘the long pathway’) Trust is to create a continuous foot trail route from Cape Reinga to Bluff by the end of 2000. And my thanks to Paul for his superb story, and to Carla Hofler, nzedge.com’s publishing editor, for her picture research and production of this story.

We welcome this week to The New Zealand Edge people who have enlisted from (internationally): Atlanta, Brighton, Bristol, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Dallas, Klosterneuburg (Austria), Lenesa (Kansas), London, Napa, New York, Newport Beach, Ottawa, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Sydney, Wilton (USA); and from New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Hastings, Inglewood, Invercargill, Matamata, Pahiatua, Wellington and Wellsford.

We’ll be back within the week with more stories about Kiwis rocking the equilibrium around the globe.


Brian Sweeney
executive editor

Thumbnail: Rewi Alley

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