Bumping into the Mayor

8 July 2015

A Chinese passenger on a Wellington day-time commuter train thought the only other traveller looked like Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and politely inquired. He was impressed when she responded to him in Mandarin. He decided to write about the experience in the local Home Voice Chinese newspaper…

By Qiyuan Zhou

After picking up the “Home Voice” Chinese newspaper at the Wellington City Library, I got onto the 11:05 Wellington - Upper Hutt train to go home. I sat down in the second row and started to read my newspaper.

The conductor started to check tickets; I turned around and found that there was only one other female passenger in my carriage who was reading. She looks like the Mayor of Wellington.

When Chinese see westerners, we think they all look similar. Some people say that westerners think all Chinese look similar to them too.

The train was getting close to my station, so I got up. Like all friendly kiwis, the lady raised her head and smiled at me. From time to time, there are kiwis who greet me in English, it doesn’t matter that I don’t understand them – I know they mean well. Sometimes I greet kiwis in mandarin, it doesn’t matter that they don’t understand me either.

I said to her, “You look like the Mayor of Wellington.” And I couldn’t believe that she understood what I said, and replied in mandarin: “I AM the Mayor of Wellington.”

I know kiwis have great sense of humour, like they call themselves kiwi. This lady must be joking too.

I thought she couldn’t be the Mayor of Wellington, she dressed casual, no entourage. So I said again – “You really look like the Mayor of Wellington!”

With a smile, she took her business card from her bag and handed it to me, and reminded me that the train has stopped. I pressed the button and got off.

After I got home, I Googled “Mayor of Wellington” and it matched the business card – same name – Celia Wade-Brown!

I was quite moved – the mayor greeted an Asian elderly whom she did not know, showing her respect. After figuring out that I didn’t believe that she is the Mayor, she still tried to explain and gave me her business card as well as reminding me of my stop. This shows her friendly and easy-going character. She has even learnt to speak mandarin! It is said that she goes to Chinese school to learn mandarin over weekends. This is so unusual!