Sister Cities Conference coming to Ashburton

This past weekend (23 March), I had the privilege of joining a number of national and international dignitaries, mayors and central government officials at the Sister Cities Conference in Palmerston North. Whilst there, I was delighted at the announcement that Ashburton District has been chosen to host this nationally significant conference next year.

Sister Cities Conference is an annual event that brings representatives from all over the world together to discuss ways to foster global connections that will enhance understanding and friendship, and also encourage mutual economic growth.

Ashburton has three Sister City relationships and two Friendship City relationships. These are with Minamiuonuma, Niigata in Japan; Pulaski, Virginia in the Unites States; and with Ashburton, Devon, United Kingdom; while the Friendship Cities are with Puyang, Henan in China; and Xianyang, Shaanxi, China.

There are also expressions of interest for a Friendship City relationship with Zaohaung, China and a Sister City relationship with Handan, China.

I cannot stress what a phenomenal opportunity this conference will be to showcase our district, build even stronger international relationships and further our cultural, educational, youth, sports, professional and technical projects.

At the Palmerston North conference, for example, their focus was on ‘Prosperity through Partnership’. This theme was about being proactive with international relationships, and saw delegates from Japan sign an official declaration of partnership with Palmerston North. These delegates then visited IPU Tertiary Institute with a view to advance cooperation on educational programmes. 

Other activities included a reception at the New Zealand Rugby Museum with the Japanese Ambassador, Hiroyasu Kobayashi, celebrating Sister City cooperation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Delegates from Missoula, Montana in the U.S.A focussed on strengthening student exchange and research projects between Massey University and the University of Montana.

Next year’s conference will be a chance for us to focus on our unique capabilities, offerings and needs, and shine a light on our place on the international stage with our partnering Sister and Friendship Cities.

With potentially hundreds of representatives set to descend on Ashburton next year for the conference, we will undoubtedly see a big injection into our local economy, particularly for our retail, hospitality, recreational and other tourism affiliated businesses.

On a human level, it is my belief that Sister Cities will also reinforce our values of inclusiveness, cultural diversity, respect and understanding. This could not be more crucial at a time when our nation has been shaken by the horrors of the recent terror attacks in Christchurch.

What a fitting opportunity to strength our ties with communities around the world and demonstrate what great things can be achieved through friendly exchanges and conversations. ​

Page reviewed: 18 Apr 2019 4:30pm