Honghu Garden Section

As you wander up the main path way past the rose garden the pathway forks and to your left leads you to the Honghu City section of the Garden of Reflection, this part of the garden is an acknowledgment to the past and how one man linked to a city in China linked to a district in New Zealand during the 1930’s .

The people of the city of Honghu City and surrounding district honour Rewi Alley for his tireless work to save their city and people.

In late February 1932, Honghu City severely suffered from a major flood on the Yangtze River. Rewi Alley determined to help the people of Honghu transported three barges of wheat and medicine from Wuhan to Honghu at great risk of his own life. Before leaving Wuhan, Rewi Alley advised the Communist Party of China, the then ruling party of Honghu District of his intention to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Honghu. The Red Army lead by General He Long intercepted the barges of wheat and medicine and a deadly battle ensued. Rewi Alley almost died in the battle as a bullet passed through the hat that Rewi Alley had been waving to show they were a humanitarian aid fleet. A few years later and at a banquet in Yan'an, Rewi Alley joked that the bullet that was shot through his hat by Red Army was very accurate and nearly killed him when he chatted with General He Long. General He Long laughed and thanked him heaps for his "sending charcoal in a snow storm".

Honghu was the place Rewi always missed. From 1932 to 1983, Rewi Alley visited Honghu five times. He was moved by the toughness and optimism of local people in fighting natural disaster and developing their homeland. He wrote a book “The Spirit of Honghu” to praise Honghu people. Rewi was deeply fond by the locals and were affectionately called “Honghu migratory birds".

Honghu never forgot Rewi Alley and his New Zealand hometown. In March 2017, his worship Mr Shen Xianwu, mayor of Honghu, led a delegation and visited Hurunui. During this visit, Honghu and Hurunui signed the agreement on establishing friendship district relationship in China Consulate General in Christchurch at the witness of his excellency Mr Wang Xiaodong, Governor of Hubei Province, and Mr Jin Zhijian, the then China Consul General to Christchurch. Honghu government also donated a considerable sum of money Hurunui. As Mr Shen said “Rewi Alley came to Honghu to help local people when Honghu was in hardship. Today, I hope our people can be of some little help to Hurunui people for their earthquake recovery as a repay. This is where friendship and people to people happen”.

The people of Honghu were pleased to be involved in the development of the Honghu-Hurunui section of the garden to reflect the historical relationship between the two places and made a further contribution to the garden of reflection concept.


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