Newsletter – Canterbury


From the President

Last month on Commonwealth Day and the day after I had a fruitful visit to Wellington.  You can read brief reports on the meetings I had later in this newsletter.  But what I would like to draw your attention to is this year’s


Last year’s Queen’s Birthday celebration had to be cancelled because not enough members were able to come.  So this year, we’re trying something different.  We’re not having a speaker for whom we have to muster a sufficient audience.  Instead, we will toast the Queen and read any message she has sent.  Then we’ll enjoy each other’s company over lunch and , after that, I will lead a discussion about our Society –what we do, have done and might do in the future.  This may well result in some motions to come to our AGM on June 25.

I do urge you to come to this lunch and meeting.  If you cannot be there and you are still interested in what we’re discussing please tell us so that we can send you any preliminary information.  You  can then forward comments that feed into our discussion.  Our future as a Society relies on us being clear and relevant about what we do and plan.   We need your support.

Commonwealth Day Celebration, Wellington

2017 Theme:  An Inclusive Commonwealth

The Observance in St Paul’s Cathedral was well attended by the Governor General, the previous Governor General,  representatives of most of the Commonwealth nations, recipients of the Queen’s honours, members of RCS Wellington and the general public – a worthy celebration of an inclusive Commonwealth both in the attendees and the order of the observance. 

Trumpet fanfares and bagpipes set a stirring start with processions of diplomatic representatives and of the flags of the Commonwealth countries. 

The hymns were, as far as possible, not exclusively or specifically Christian and there were readings and meditations from other faiths, as well as speakers from Commonwealth countries and from RCS.

After the ceremony we were treated to a reception at Parliament hosted by the Hon. Louise Upston.  It was a good time to meet some of the younger participant

Commonwealth Day Celebration, Christchurch

The Royal Commonwealth Society Canterbury opted for a more modest celebration, with a dinner at the Rosebank Winery.

We were, however, treated to a sparkling journey through the life and times of the Hon Margaret Austin CNZM, CRSNZ, FNZIM, D.Sc (Honoris Causa). Margaret’s stellar career includes positions ranging from Senior Mistress at Riccarton High School, Member of Parliament for Yaldhurst from 1984-1996, during which time she served as Minister for Research and Development, Internal Affairs and Arts, Culture and Heritage, as well as Senior Whip for the Labour Party, and Chancellor at Lincoln University. She is currently responsible to the Council of the Royal Society for the Science Education programme, and undertakes  occasional consultancy work for the Director General of UNESCO.

Margaret delivered a series of short anecdotes that were  insightful, interesting and humorous. She delighted us all.

The AFS Connection

In 2016 we made a grant to AFS to assist a teacher from India to spend time in a New Zealand school.  In September, Mrs Sarita Badhwar from Daly College India spent three weeks at

Christchurch South Intermediate and we have received glowing reports of her stay from both the school and AFS,  and from Sarita herself. 

At Governors Bay

On Commonwealth Day this year I met with AFS staff in Wellington and it is now proposed that there be a reciprocal visit later this year of a teacher from South Intermediate or some other Canterbury school for 3-6 weeks (depending to a large extent on how long the teacher can afford to be away from the school) hosted by AFS India. 

All costs and fees for this would be covered by AFS NZ and AFS India except for travel, insurance, visa and spending money, which would be about $3000.  It is envisaged that an  RCS Canterbury grant would go towards those expenses, which could be refundable to the teacher at the completion of the placement.

AFS would select the teacher and could make the travel bookings.  They would also provide a cultural programme online to prepare for the visit.  RCS would meet with the teacher and would make clear our expectations which would be, at a minimum, a report back to the Council and/or a presentation on our Recipients evening.

If this arrangement works well it could be continued so that in alternative years a teacher could come from an Indian school and a teacher from a NZ school go to India.  Perhaps at some stage it could be a teacher and a student.

                                                            John Latham


A Wellington Meeting

While I was in Wellington for the Commonwealth Day Celebration I met with Daryl Stevens, Pacific Regional Coordinator & President Wellington Branch RCS and Aaron Hape Executive Director of Commonwealth Youth NZ.  Our talk focused on  programmes that RCS Canty might encourage local young people to participate in.   In particular we discussed the formation and development of Commonwealth Youth NZ

CYNZ was initiated by Aaron as the result of a student CHOGM he attended, and most of its members come through the same experience. On Monday 12 March they had arranged a Common Leaders Day, the second such day developing leadership skills for Year 12 and 13 students.  This will be an annual event on Commonwealth Day and we will encourage Canterbury young people to attend.

In 2014 Aaron attended the inaugural 33Sixty Commonwealth Youth Leadership Conference in Scotland – now called simply 33Sixty.  CYNZ is organising a similar event in Wellington in September.  The aim is to include a wide range of Commonwealth participants, aged 18 – 30, including the student population of local tertiary institutions. However, the majority of the participant cohort will be made up of young people from around the Commonwealth.  This would be fully funded once students reached Wellington.

All branches have had the same demise of the local essay competition with the UK RCS taking control of the event.  We were all in favour of a local prize and, in fact, this could be adjudicated by the UK as part of the total adjudication.

CYNZ encourages young people to apply for the Queen’s Young Leader Award and we should look out for local young leaders and encourage them to apply.  We had a reflection by one of the Runners-up as part of the Observance.

Inevitably most of what is happening is Wellington based or centred.  As things develop we hope that our Canterbury branch will be more on the radar and we can get our students involved in the programmes and help them establish their own younger organisation – or rejuvenate ours!


Photograph albums from all our Society functions can  be found on our website.  Here you will also find links to many interesting Commonwealth-related sites.

Enquiries or comments can be emailed to our Website Manager at

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The AGM of The Royal Commonwealth Society Canterbury (NZ) Branch will be held in the Knox Church Committee room, 28 Bealey Avenue, at 2:30pm on June 25.

Parking is available off Bealey Avenue.

Please be there to cast your vote for Council officers.

Meanwhile, back at Rosebank

Our Vice President, Christine Hainstock, and Dr Austen discuss

matters of obvious social and political import

And our Cultural Ambassador  to Japan, David Bolam-Smith,

Speaks of special moments at the revealing of the

Christchurch Earthquake Memorial Wall

RCS welcome, Christchurch, Canterbury NZ 8053