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Withdrawal Offer From Dep-Mayor

When Aranui High School pulled out of a cultural visit to Christchurch's sister city, Songpa-Gu in Korea, two Councillors wrote saying they would not be offended if their invitations were withdrawn.

Christchurch's Deputy Mayor Lesley Keast said today that invitations were issued separately to the Aranui High School cultural group, about two years ago, and to her and Cr. Carole Anderton verbally in February this year at the opening of the Sister-City Gardens at the Halswell Quarry.

She said she was disappointed that the school had withdrawn as the Mayor of Songpa-Gu particularly wanted the cultural group as a highlight of its two-biennial festival.

When she learnt of the withdrawal she wrote to the Korean Mayor saying she would not offended if the invitations to the Councillors were withdrawn. "I have not had a response to my letter," she said.

Cr. Keast said efforts to discuss the withdrawal with the school had failed to materialise. "We must show our respects in this matter because it is culturally sensitive. It is a long time since the Council sent a representative to Songpa-Gu. Two years ago the Mayor, Garry Moore, had to turn down an invitation because of another overseas engagement," she said.

The festival was important to the Koreans and Cr. Keast said that she understood there was about $5000 available to a group of about 12 with two teachers from the school.

All on-ground expenses were being met by the Koreans - for the school cultural group, the Councillors and the chairman of the Christchurch-Songpa-Gu Sister City Committee, Clyde Sugden. "It is a great pity that the school decided to pull out because the group was to be the stars of the festival. But the school's decision has nothing to do with the Council," Cr. Keast said.


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