NZ Chinese Gift Sculpture to 2008 Olympic Team
In January 2008, the Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic Team for Beijing, Dave Currie, asked Kai Luey, then National President of New Zealand Chinese Association Inc, if the New Zealand Chinese Community could present a symbolic cultural gift to the New Zealand Team (as had been done by the NZ Greek Community in 2004 for the Athens Games). Dave proposed that the gift would be displayed in the NZ Team compound in the Olympic village and then presented to the Chinese Olympic Organising Committee at the end of the games.
Kai enlisted the assistance of Ron Sang, a prominent Auckland architect, who in turn asked Guy Ngan, a New Zealand Chinese sculptor, to create a work of art.
Guy’s design incorporated a two metre long modern stylised dragon (symbolising Chinese) with a greenstone pearl on its tongue (symbolising Maori) mounted on a black granite base. The NZ Olympic logo was placed on the back of the 2.4 metre by 1.8 metre stainless steel rectangular box frame with captions in English and Chinese and on the two ends the names of donors giving $1,000 or more written in English and Chinese. The granite base was engraved with messages of goodwill in English and Chinese.
Kai Luey launched the fundraising appeal during his speech at the Chinese New Year Parliamentary Reception in the Grand Hall of Parliament Buildings on 19 February 2008 with these words :-
This is an unique opportunity which may not re-occur in our lifetime to demonstrate to all NZers that NZ Chinese feels an integral part of our adopted country and that we greatly appreciate the opportunities to settle here and enjoy the better lifestyle in Aotearoa. And to China, our former home country, the gift signifies that NZ has fully accepted Chinese as worthy citizens who have made immense contributions to their new home country.
The formal presentation of the Dragon Sculpture was made by the then National Vice President, Steven Young, in the absence of Kai Luey to Dave Currie, at a special NZ Olympic ceremony on 30 April 2008 at the Villa Maria Estate in Mangere, Auckland. After the presentation, the granite base was freighted by sea to China and the stainless steel section was displayed on a temporary base at the Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland Airports during May and June.
The sculpture was duly erected outside the New Zealand team village during the games as shown in the attached photos and later gifted to the Chinese Olympic Organising Committees Headquarters in Beijing. It is now permanently sited in a special sport memorabilia museum created in a building near the west entrance of the National Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing as an enduring symbol of the friendship between China and New Zealand.
Fundraising by the New Zealand Chinese Association Inc Committee led by Kai Luey made it possible to successfully complete the project in three months. However, the fundraising campaign was eventually over-subscribed due to the generosity of the Chinese community and in consultation with the major donors, it was decided to make a full size replica of the Dragon sculpture for New Zealand (but without the NZ Olympic logo for which there are very restricted usage policies). The replica is now prominently sitting in the front entrance of the Auckland City Central Library in Lorne Street pending its permanent re-location to the Auckland or Wellington Chinese Garden.
It is worth mentioning that helping the organisation of the New Zealand Olympic team was Robyn Wong, an Olympian herself in the 2004 Olympic Games. She was sponsored by the New Zealand Chinese Association then.