A whole pig roasted the traditional Chinese way fed young men's and women's bodies, while speakers fired up their minds in Palmerston North.
The five-day New Zealand Chinese Association leadership and development conference was held at the Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute last week.
The pig, selected by Pioneer New World owner Darrin Wong, was prepared on Friday night.
After the bones were removed, the pig was wired to keep it together. Five spice, garlic and soy sauce were rubbed into the meat and left to marinate overnight.
The rain brought the roasting forward on Saturday and at times the men had to shield the flames with plastic.
With the temperature reaching 500 degrees Celsius in the double brick kiln built in Aokautere by JJ Chew in 1962, the pig was cooked in one hour and 15 minutes.
Shoulder meat was removed during preparation to ensure an even thickness. It was dangled into the flames on hooks – a process called char sui (fork roasted).
Twenty-four young Chinese delegates attended the conference, hosted by the Manawatu branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association.
The first conference was in 2007 but this is the first time it has been in Palmerston North.
The aim was to "create leaders that will shape our future".
Delegates had to be aged between 18 and 30 years and members of the association.
Applicants for the conference had to explain where they see themselves now and in five years time.
The live-in conference started each day at 7.30am with tai chi and ended after dinner with the men learning a dragon dance and the women a lantern dance.
Speakers included Gisborne mayor Meng Foon on tri-culturalism in New Zealand, Christchurch emergency physician Paul Gee on leadership in a crisis and for a cause and Stephen Young and Tony Thackery on the Chinese influence on New Zealand history.
Sheila Yeh said she found the history of Asian Kiwis interesting – her parents were born in China. The 20-year-old is in her third year of a bachelor of business studies at Massey, majoring in economics and finance.
It was also Aidan Wong's first conference. The 26-year-old Palmerston North accountant enjoyed the team work exercises and Rodney Wong's talk, because he could relate to the city businessman's life experiences.
Rodney Wong's talk was called "Business and future value planning, or if only I knew then what I know now".
Delegates split into groups to prepare a skit for a potential television advertisement to promote the association and to brainstorm ideas to increase the number of young members.
One group developed Wokc, Wellington Overseas and Kiwi Chinese.
They said the early 20s was a vulnerable age when people can become disconnected from the Chinese culture.
Aucklanders Joanna Wong and Kelly Wing had not been to Palmerston North before.
Miss Wong, 24, said the city was very green and she was surprised to see a block of shops, then turn a corner and see farmland.
She was used to eating pork that came in packets from the supermarket.
Miss Wing, 23, remarked how many trees Palmerston North had and said the city was bigger than she thought.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Last updated 11:34 18/01/2012