At one time he was a Taranaki farmer but Rewi Alley is best known for the many years he lived in China.
The New Zealand born writer, educator, political activist, revolutionary, social reformer, potter, and member of the Communist Party of China is the subject of an exhibition at Heritage House in Whanganui this week.
Rewi Alley wrote his last book Rewi Alley an Autobiography before he died aged 90 in 1987.
Alley's communist party membership made him a controversial figure in his home country for a time and he was chastised by former New Zealand prime minister Robert Muldoon.
He was however, made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service in the 1985 New Year Honours when David Lange was prime minister.
David Lange reportedly turned to Alley at the presentation and said...
"New Zealand has had many great sons, but you, Sir, are our greatest son."
A photo of David Lange and Rewi Alley together at that occasion is part of the collection on display at Heritage House until May 19.
The exhibition also includes photos of Alley's 60 years work in China, first for the Gung Ho cooperatives, then the Bailie Technical Schools, and finally for the NZ Peace Council and the global Peace Movement.
The collection has been collated by the Shanghai People's Friendship Association and the NZ-China Friendship Society.
Samples of Alley's writing, artefacts and personal memorabilia loaned by his family and friends is also on display and a documentary series of Alley's life made by the National Film Unit (NHNZ) and China Central Television will be screening at the exhibition.
Convener Jan McLeod will be on hand to answer questions and she asks that visitors encourage young people to check it out too.
The Rewi Alley Commemorative Exhibition is on at Heritage House, 136 St Hill Street from 10am-4pm Monday to Sunday, until May 19. Admission is free.