Sister Cities New Zealand - Promoting people to people exchanges

Guilin City, China
is partnered with
Hastings, New Zealand

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SCNZ 2017 Conference

News posted 22 March 2017 by Jess Corbett

Sister Cities New Zealand 2017 Conference is being held in Invercargill, 4-6 May 2017.

The Theme is Communication Overcoming Distance.

Conference 2017

Mayoral Forum

Conference Programme

Accommodation, tour and price options

Registration Form

3 months in New Zealand - Karen Ye of CPAFFC

News posted 25 February 2017 by Jess Corbett

At the invitation of the New Zealand China Friendship Association, I visited New Zealand as the second recipient of the Margot Cornwell Scholarship, and finished a three-month study at University of Waikato in Hamilton, from early February to late June in 2016.

I have been working in the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship Association (CPAFFC) for almost ten years. What we are doing everyday is carrying on all kinds of people-to-people exchanges with the aims of enhancing friendship and cooperation between China and all the other countries. My division takes care of friendly exchanges with 16 countries including New Zealand. New Zealand is no stranger to me. Although this is my eighth or ninth time visit to New Zealand, these three months are still very precious to me.

What did I do?
On my plane from Beijing to Auckland, I made up my mind to take my time and make good use of everyday in New Zealand. I decided to choose subjects I was really interested at school, as well as extend my understanding of New Zealand as much as I could through attending activities or visiting different places.

I attended two courses in Waikato University, including Pacific Development & Maori Culture, and Drawing. Both of them were very interesting, either very closely related to my job or the field I would like to explore myself.

From the Pacific Development, I learned about the major concerns of the Pacific countries and their people. I understood more about the status and concerns of the Maori people in New Zealand society. In the drawing classes, I chose my daughter to be my study subject. It helps me learning drawing skills as well as curing the yearning.

In May, I was invited to attend the 2016 NZCFS annual Conference and gave a speech represented both CPAFFC and youth. It was a good chance to meet with all the good friends again and be involved with discussions in how to mobilize the youth generation in friendly exchanges with China.

During Easter Holiday, I joined a hiking group and spent 4 days on the Waikaremoana Great Walk, one of the nine great walks in New Zealand. It was a life-time memory for me.

Apart from the great walk, I also completed the Ports of Round the Bays in Auckland and attended the 2016 Hamilton Chinese Sports Day. On the Sports Day in Hamilton, I was very happy to joined a group of girls who decided to bake cookies for fund raising for the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

During the two-week school break, I rent a car and spent two weeks traveling. There were many beautiful and interesting places worth to go back again. I still could clearly remember the friendly couple I stayed with in Picton, the beautiful scenery of the Wanaka Lake, the blue cups in the lovely cafe on the top of Mount John with the stunning view of Lake Tekapo, the huge hamburger in Queenstown and the “Everything will be alright signs in Christchurch city center.

What did I get?
“What did I get from this trip?”, I asked myself when it was approaching to the end of it. Friendship was my first answer.

Three months were long enough to visit my old friends as well as make new friends, especially in New Zealand, such a friendly country with many kind people here.

In Waikato University, although I was just a student, I was surprised to find I was the only Chinese student in my class.

I found kiwis were curious about my mother country which seems so far away from them. I kept answering questions related with China no matter on classes or on the Great walk around the Waikaremoana Lake, including Family Planning Policy (also known as the One Child Policy), economic development, Chinese Dream, environmental problems and solutions, Child care situation, judicial system, laws and so on. I was very happy to answer all these questions and helped more kiwis know something about China. By doing so, I made a lot of new friends too.

Three months in New Zealand also gave me a good length of time to stay alone and started to pursue the inner peace. I practiced Yoga every morning, read books, appreciate life in a slower pace and observe people around me. After doing so, I saw the scenery that I never noticed before. At the first time in my life, I got a chance to dissect myself thoroughly, and answered questions for myself.

Every experience changes you and your life in a way. I sincerely appreciate Margot Cornwell and her husband Peter, for donating money and setting up this scholarship, and the NZCFS for inviting me to be the recipient and have this life-time memorable experience in New Zealand.

Journeying through Japan - ex SCNZ Director Bing Lou takes part in the Jenesys programme

News posted 25 February 2017 by Jess Corbett

Words cannot describe the incredible country that is Japan. The people, the culture, the food and history is as unique and inspiring as you can imagine. It’s a society where old meets new, where tradition is embedded in all areas of modern life, and where the most outlandish thing is innovative, exciting and cutting-edge.

I was fortunate to be one of five Kiwis and ten Aussies selected to partake in the 2016 Jenesys programme, run by the Japan Overseas Cooperative Association, and aimed at promoting international exchange and cooperation with Japan. It was an incredible, insightful and intense week of immersion in Japanese business, culture, and local cuisine.

We started off in the metropolis of Tokyo, a city of just under 14 million (and yet with a similar sized economy to that of the UK)! We then bulleted down on the Shinkansen high-speed train at 300km per hour to visit cities in both Aichi and Mei Prefectures, including Nagoya, Taiki, Ise and Suzuka.

Aside from getting excited over automatic taxi doors, canned coffee from vending machines, and real life sumos on the streets of Ryoguko, we were introduced to the successes and innovative entrepreneurship from some of Japan’s leading businesses.

We visited Mitsui & Co., Japan’s largest sogo shosha or global trading and investment company, as well as Seven Dreamers Laboratories, a technology innovation company soon to launch the world’s first laundry folding robot (that’s right, the future is here)!

We had a well-anticipated tour of Toyota’s Motomachi factory to see Lexus, Crown and Mirai cars being pieced together, as well as the opportunity to taste world-class sake produced by Shimizu Seizaburo Shoten, a company which has been brewing traditional sake for nearly 150 years and recently served their sake to world leaders at the 2016 G7 summit in Tokyo!

We also met with the Japan External Trade Organization, the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Japan and our respective embassies to talk about doing business in Japan, a lot of which involves patience, long-term relationship building and significant time and investment.

Many people consider Japan being a rigid and hard market to tap into, however what was highlighted was that businesses who persevere and form the foundations of trust and respect in Japan, gain unwavering loyalty, success and opportunity.

Aside from gaining tremendous business insight, we were also treated to the wonders of Japanese history, culture and tradition. This included wandering through the famous Yakimono Sanpomichi or ‘pottery path’ in Tokoname, Nagoya, and seeing first-hand the long history of ceramic and tea ware production dating back to the 12th century from a local potter.

We then trekked through the walls of Nagoya Castle, regarded as the finest masterpiece of modern castle architecture in Japan. The palace oozes of imperial regal, with its elevated white walls towering above large stone fortresses, and adorned with golden statues of shachihoko, a legendary half-fish and half-tiger mythical beast said to provide rain and protection from fire. Most of the castle buildings were destroyed by air raids and bombings during World War II, but had been beautifully reconstructed using traditional materials and techniques. Several parts of the palace, including the entrance and reception halls, elegantly replicate the elaborate style and decor of 17th century Japan.

Three hours south of Nagoya, we found ourselves stepping into the allure of the famous Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The shrine is based on traditional Shinto worship, and dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami. Walking beneath the lush green canopy of cyprus forest, and bare wooden structures resembling ancient rice granaries, you cannot help but feel the sense of calm and tranquility that exudes from the place. It’s a kind of peace that not even the one million visitors could disturb. Yet, the hustle and bustle is easily found outside in a little market alleyway filled with tea merchants, fish mongers and food vendors filling the air with sweet and salty aromas.

We then headed to Taiki village to learn the art of making mochi! Japanese rice cake or mochi is a popular sweet made from rice beaten with giant wooden mallets, a tradition known as mochitsuki in Japanese. The lovely ladies who let us into their kitchen were masters of mochitsuki, churning out hundreds of pieces of fresh and warm mochi. We were also taught how to make the traditional yomogi mochi, a novel type of mochi made with a Japanese wild plant known as mugwort. The soft chewy yomogi mochi is filled with a generous amount of red bean paste and hand dusted in kinako (roasted soybean flour) before being served!

We were also introduced to the very special art of preparing and serving macha green tea. In Japanese culture, tea is much more than just a drink. It is rather a ceremonious and quiet celebration of mindfulness and respect that is performed with immense grace and beauty, and has been so for centuries. From welcoming your guests to pouring hot water, as well as mixing and serving the macha, the entire ritual is thoughtful and serene, with a series of precise hand movements that is truly hard to perfect!

For some, Japanese food is solely worth a trip to the country itself. And after having the local cuisine, I see why. Nothing compares to the meticulous care and thought that is put into eating in Japan. Everything we had, from freshly sliced sashimi and hot bowls of miso, to sizzling plates of teppanyaki and deep fried tempura (not to mention the mouthwatering bowls of ramen and taiyaki stuffed with warm red-beans), shows the immense consideration the Japanese give to eating well (no wonder they live so long)! Add to that a glass of Asahi beer or Suntory whisky and you’ll be happily skipping (or rolling) down the street each night.

Our final dinner together as a group was a chankonabe or a traditional “sumo feast”, which was a delicious hot pot of meat, tofu, noodles and vegetables. Most of us gave up after our third helping. The challenge of eating over ten portions capped with rice and beer was simply too much too handle! Coincidently we bumped into a very friendly sumo on our way home, happily proving to us how much endurance is needed to bulk up (he was 170kg and yet to reach his goal weight of over 200kg)!

A week is definitely not enough to experience the complexities of Japan, but it was enough to get a tantalising taste and realise how much more of the country there is to explore.

Although Japan is vastly different to Western countries like New Zealand, there also lies many similarities which form the basis of our connections, be it shared beliefs of tangata whenua to people’s passion for business, food, sports and culture. These connections bridge our differences, and form the basis of mutual and long-standing ties.

New Zealand currently has 42 sister city relationships with Japan, many of which have been built on the basis of these grass-root people-to-people links. Japan is also one of our most longstanding export markets, and although we have had a long history of trade in food and agriculture, there is room to further foster connections through its growing service industry including education, construction, architecture and tech innovation. We just need the confidence to get on the ground and start forming those relationships.

Being on Jenesys has no doubt fuelled my curiosity in Japan and I will sure be back sooner rather than later, hopefully with more fluency in Japanese than before!

Dunedin Otaru Sister City Society - Nov 2016 newsletter

News posted 28 November 2016 by Jess Corbett

October 2016 newsletter

News posted 14 November 2016 by Jess Corbett

SCNZ Newsletter August 2016

News posted 31 August 2016 by Jess Corbett

Indigenous writers to take part in festival

News posted 12 July 2016 by Jess Corbett

06/07/2016
Indigenous writers from Adelaide and Seattle – two of Christchurch’s Sister Cities – will take part in this year’s Word Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

Click to read article

SCNZ Newsletter June 2016

News posted 7 July 2016 by Jess Corbett

CLAIR newsletter 100 - June 2016

News posted 6 July 2016 by Jess Corbett

Sister Cities Australia June 2016 newsletter

News posted 6 July 2016 by Jess Corbett

SCNZ 2016 Conference programme

News posted 30 May 2016 by Jess Corbett

2016 SCNZ Conference Presentations

News posted 8 May 2016 by Jess Corbett

Here are PDF copies of the presentations from the 2016 SCNZ conference in Nelson, 29th and 30th April, and also presentations from the Mayoral Workshop on 28th April.

If you need Powerpoint (PPTX) versions please email admin@sistercities.org.nz to request these.

The following files were too large to upload – if you would like them please email admin@sistercities.org.nz, advising which presentation you would like, and what version (PDF or PPTX).
I will then provide you with a link to download the files directly.

  • Miyazu and Huangshi gardens – Nelson City Council
  • The Toraja Project – Mayor Kelvin Coe
  • Nelson-Huangshi Schools’ Art Exchange – Christine Ward
  • CPAFFC – Vice President Mr Xie Yuan

2016 Award winners

News posted 3 May 2016 by Jess Corbett

The winners of the 2016 Sister Cities New Zealand awards, sponsored by Air New Zealand, were announced in Nelson on April 29th.

Best Youth Education or School Project
Winner: Nelson City Council in association with NZCFS Nelson Branch

Best Cultural Sport or Recreation Project
Winner: Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society
Runner Up: Gisborne District Sister Cities Inc.

Best Business or Commercial Project
Winner: Auckland Council
Runner Up: Wellington City Council

Best School Cultural Awareness Project
Winner: Halswell School
Runner Up: Tui Glen School

The prizes are as follows:

Winner in each category will receive air travel with Air New Zealand to the value of $1500.

Runner Up in each category receives a return journey for two on the Air New Zealand domestic network.

Sister Cities New Zealand are grateful to acknowledge the support of Air New Zealand.

Canterbury Regional Focus Group Meeting - 16 March 2016

News posted 20 April 2016 by Jess Corbett

Dunedin Regional Focus Group meeting - 16 March 2016

News posted 20 April 2016 by Jess Corbett

Rotorua Regional Focus Group meeting - 8 March 2016

News posted 20 April 2016 by Jess Corbett

Newsletter February 2016

News posted 29 February 2016 by Jess Corbett

2016 SCNZ Conference in Nelson - registrations now open

News posted 21 December 2015 by Jess Corbett

DATE: 28-30 April 2016
VENUE: Rutherford Hotel, Nelson
THEME: Connecting People – Celebrating our Past, Creating our Future

The 2016 Sister Cities Conference is a collaborative event facilitated by Sister Cities New Zealand (SCNZ) & Nelson City as the 2016 hosts.

New Zealand currently has around 150 sister city relationships with 17 countries around the world. Part of the role of SCNZ is to help facilitate these important links, provide support to organisations & individuals working in this area and to share best-practice.

The SCNZ conference aims to bring together a vast array of passionate individuals & organisations, including business groups, grass-root community organisations, schools and education-providers, local & federal government & non-Government organisations. All are involved in promoting people-to-people relations with international counterparts and fostering global connections.

The link below will take you to the conference information and registration page.

Nelson City Council – SCNZ 2016 Conference registration

Newsletter December 2015

News posted 21 December 2015 by Jess Corbett

SCA conference report from Bernard Duncan Nov 2015

News posted 16 December 2015 by Jess Corbett