Posted on Nov 15, 2017
- by PDG Anthony Scott
From Taipei to Te Ika a Maui
It’s a long, long way from Taipei to Takaro, but 16 Taiwanese Rotarians made the journey to Palmerston North in time to join DG Mitch’s official visit to his own club in early November as part of a fun-filled – and fast-paced - visit to D9940 from 5-12 November. 
The RID 3523 Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) group dined with the Rotary Clubs of Wellington, Masterton South, Wairarapa South and Takaro, enjoyed wine and cheese tasting with the President of the RC of Carterton at his vineyard and had lunch with Rotarians from several Whanganui clubs. 
The 3 men and 11 women from 12 clubs in 3523 included a married couple and a mother and daughter, joined by 2 women from a 3490 club.
The week-long tour under the aegis of the District RFE Programme was organized by RC Wellington and RC Masterton South, with the support of the Presidents of the clubs visited and, in Whanganui, PDG Bob Smith. 
The RFE followed a visit in October 2014 by then-DG Anthony Scott and his wife Nicky to Taipei as guests of the then District 3520, along with 15 other DGs from Australia, the America’s, and Africa. It was arranged by CP (Charter President) Michael Tseng and PP Jonathan Peng – both in this group. Due to Rotary growth in Taiwan RID 3520 is now 3 districts, with 3523 already having 66 clubs. Taiwan’s Rotarians are the most generous donors, per capita, to The Rotary Foundation. 
The group was home hosted by Rotarians from RC Wellington, Port Nicholson and Wellington South; and Masterton South.  Experiencing home life is a major attraction of an RFE, for both visitors and hosts. They toured the major attractions of the capital city, guided by Rotarians and were guests at a major RC Wellington fundraiser, hearing top classical singers. In the Wairarapa, Rotarians joined on trips to Cape Palliser, Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre, the cheese and wine tasting, and a uniquely fascinating day on the farm – complete with sheep shearing and 4WD.  A four hour visit to Whanganui included a Mayoral reception, before travelling down the coast route.  A mention should also be made of their contribution to New Zealand’s GDP!
The group was generous with good humour and Rotary songs, surprising hosts and onlookers alike with their rendition of Pokarekareana.  A lively exchange of song and waiata between kiwi and Taiwanese Rotarians at the James Cook hotel on the Saturday farewell dinner brought applause from other diners and a haka from a couple of young schoolboys.  Host clubs were also generous, with nice touches such as South Wairarapa dressing each table with the red, white, and blue of the Taiwan flag and Masterton South providing picnic lunches. 
A lasting impression is of a group of highly individual characters, fun-loving, energetic, engaging and wanting to join in with their kiwi fellows in Rotary.  Each also had their own stories of helping Rotary develop, and were keen to learn from Rotary here.  We as hosts got as much if not more from their visit with us.  Grateful thanks go to all those who assisted, in so many ways, to make this a successful RFE.   
RID 3523 has now extended an invitation for Rotarians to visit them in April 2019.  Thoroughly recommended for your bucket list!
See the photo album here.