Monday, March 1, 2021

Dante Auckland AGM 2021 - President Report

On Saturday 27 February the Società Dante Alighieri di Auckland held the Annual General Meeting. We were fortunate to have the AGM the day before Level 3 lockdown in Auckland, and to celebrate together the challenges and successes of 2020. Please find below a transcript of the President Report, which also has important information regarding the future of Festival Italiano. 

Sir John Kirwan, President, and committee member Dr. Luca Manghi, cutting cake for morning coffee after the AGM.

Società Dante Alighieri di Auckland - President Report

Cari amici e soci Dante Auckland,

Welcome to our 2021 AGM, and thank you all for coming today.

Last year was challenging for all, including for Dante Auckland, and more than ever I would like to acknowledge the work of our committee members who, I believe, have exceeded themselves in 2020 with the running of the society.  

I would also like to thank all our members who support us every year and our students for not giving up on learning Italian over the past months during lockdown. I would like to acknowledge the great work and effort of all our teachers who were able to promptly switch to online teaching and keep the classes running. Thank you also to Valeria Santillo for managing the finances so dutifully, to Stefania Perrotta for delivering our monthly newsletter, and to Vice President Flavia Berucci for making my work as president smooth as! 

We are truly blessed that life in New Zealand has been good when compared with the rest of the word, and that between lockdowns we were able to organise many events, including an important international art exhibition for Artweek Auckland and the Italian Language Week: Illustrators for Gianni Rodari – Figure per Gianni Rodari. For this I would like to acknowledge the curators Alessandra Zecchini and Nicoletta Benella, and our local sponsors: the Italian Embassy in New Zealand, Oratia Books and Newmarket Business Association, as well as the exhibition creators Fiera di Bologna, BCBF, Regione E-R, Regione E-R Cultura d’Europa, Einaudi Ragazzi, Vivere all’Italiana (MAECI).

Other events during the year included our monthly colazione, classical music concerts, lectures, school holiday programmes and movie screenings, all organised thanks to the efforts of Luca Manghi, Matteo Telara, Sandra Fresia, Fiorella Tomasi and other committee members and volunteers. 

We also had another successful Italian Festival Season. The decision to hold the event was a courageous one, but it paid off and feedback from the public was outstanding; although the event was smaller than 2019, we had the happiest crowd to date, and praise from the local authorities and our guests from the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team. Thank you again to our major sponsors who made the Festival possible: the Waitematā Local Board, Newmarket Business Association and Rialto Centre, and supporting sponsors like Ghella, Aperol NZ, the Italian Embassy, and many others. To be acknowledged are also the dozens of smaller but nevertheless precious sponsors, and the many volunteers and staff who worked with our Dante Team Festival Italiano was created by the Dante Auckland in 2005, and since its inception it has grown into a big production, while our Society has remained the same small community group.  So, after careful and extensive consultation, the Dante committee also decided that it was best for both us and the Festival to no longer to organise the event, but to pass it on so that it can prosper and grow.

The Dante Auckland, owner of the Festival Italiano logo mark (registered with IPONZ), will offer the use of the name, logo and all in collateral to the new organiser, who will commit to continue the event in the spirit in which it was created, and to keep it free entry for the public. Naturally the Dante will promote the Festival, take part as an exhibitor, and continue to support it.

Our historic Festival partner, Newmarket Business Association, has agreed to take on Festival Italiano, and the Dante Auckland is now working towards a smooth transfer of the event. There will be no money transactions involved, since Festival Italiano is a not-for-profit community event, not a business. The terms of the transfer will be reviewed yearly by all parties involved.  

We are delighted that Festival Italiano will continue to thrive, as it is such an important event for our community, for the city of Auckland, and for the promotion of Italian language, culture, and lifestyle in New Zealand.

On behalf of the committee I would like to take this opportunity now to thank Alessandra for creating such a unique event and for running it for 16 years with total dedication and love. 

We finished 2020 with our yearly Mercatino di Natale, which is now a well-established event, and started the year 2021 with another successful Intensive course, led by Sandra Fresia. 

Today the Dante Auckland stands with a strong committee as we welcome two new members, Kerri Fergusson and Zeyna Jalil, and we salute our departing member Jackie Shearman, who will be spending less time in Auckland this year and thus have decided to step down from committee duties after many years with us. Grazie Jackie for all your work, and for your friendship. 

In summary, 2020 has been a positive year for activities and, as our treasurer Valeria will shortly confirm in the Treasurer Report, also positive financially. 

With this thought the committee has deliberated to not increase the membership fees for yet another year, so that everyone can easily afford to belong to the Dante Society and enjoy a taste of Italy right here in New Zealand. 


Sir John Kirwan

KNZM MBE           


Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland


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