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Scarves on Statues – Rewi Alley

[Previous instalments in the ‘Scarves on Statues’ series can be found here]

Rewi Alley was a somewhat controversial figure, thought of by some as a New Zealand hero who dedicated his life to the causes of peace and education in China, and by others as a sympathiser and supporter of an oppressive Chinese communist regime.

He visited China in the 1920’s without intending to stay, but he fell in love with the place and lived there for the rest of his life. His calling became the establishment of schools and industrial cooperatives. In the process of fundraising for these ventures, he developed an international reputation as “a man close to the needs of the ordinary Chinese”. This saw him go on to become an important player as an ambassador for peace and trade between China and the world.

The most famous accomplishment he is credited with however is probably the least important – the introduction of the idiom “gung-ho” into the popular English vernacular. The term that to us is associated with reckless enthusiasm is in actual fact an anglicised pronunciation of “gōng hé”, which in Mandarin means “Work together in harmony”. This was the slogan adopted by the cooperatives that Alley was associated with.

All Azzurri supporters will be hoping that la Nazionale exhibits both gung-ho, and gōng hé, in the coming weeks! They’ll need all of the above and much, much more just to get out of ‘the group of death’ at Brazil 2014!


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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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