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Former Japanese mayor now a Waitakere citizen

Former Japanese mayor made honorary Waitakere citizen

The former mayor of Waitakere’s Japanese sister city of Kakogawa was made an honorary Waitakere citizen and given a ‘key to the City’ in a special civic ceremony on Wednesday.

The ceremony, in recognition of Mr Seiichi Kinoshita’s long-time commitment to the sister city relationship, was held at the new West Wave Aquatic Centre.

Waitakere and Kakogawa signed their friendship agreement back in 1991 and became sister cities the following year. Mr Kinoshita was mayor of Kakogawa at that time and held office until his retirement in June last year.

Waitakere City Mayor, Bob Harvey, says the agreement was the beginning of a relationship built upon trust and mutual friendship.

“In a way, we have seen our cities grow up together,” he says.

“Soon after the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992, we both encouraged our councils to take on Agenda 21 principles. So much has changed – and for the better. We took on the mantle of ‘Eco-City’ and they became the ‘Wellbeing City’. We declared ourselves to be nuclear-free and they commemorate the need for peace every year with a two-day march. Both Waitakere and Kakogawa have, in their own way, become leaders in sustainability and this has made a strong relationship between the two of us.”

Waitakere City sent a delegation to Kakogawa in 1996 and gifted three pou whenua (carved statues). A Kakogawa delegation visited Waitakere in 1998, gifting the Japanese Garden located in the grounds of the Civic Centre.

At the ceremony, Mr Kinoshita said that he was honoured to become a citizen of Waitakere City – a place he regards as his second home. He also vowed to continue promoting the sister-city friendship and to visit as often as possible now that he has more spare time on his hands.

“If you see me fishing on the Waitemata Harbour or playing golf at Titirangi, say hello to me as you would your neighbour,” he said through his interpreter.

Mr Kinoshita is the fourth person to receive a key to the City. He shares the honour with singer and fundraiser Sir Bob Geldof, former Henderson businesswoman and ARC councillor Maureen Brooker and three-time Chatham Cup winners, the Waitakere City Association Football Club.

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