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Auckland City withdraws from convention

Auckland City withdraws from convention

Auckland City Council has withdrawn from the Sister Cities New Zealand Convention in Masterton.

The council has withdrawn following this morning’s announcement by the Board of Sister Cities in New Zealand and the Masterton District Council that delegates from China are no longer welcome at the convention due to health risks associated with SARS.

Auckland is the sister city of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province. A high level delegation from Guangzhou, including the city’s Vice-Mayor, is travelling to New Zealand to attend the convention.

“The announcement is an over reaction, given the government is still permitting inbound travel from China and an offer by the Ministry of Health to attend and monitor the convention,” says the chairperson of the council’s Strategy and Governance Committee and head of the council’s convention delegation, Councillor Mark Donnelly.

Auckland City has advised the visiting Guangzhou delegates and the Chinese Consul in Auckland that it values the friendship and links it has with its sister city Guangzhou, and will therefore not attend the convention due to the inappropriate action taken by the event organisers.

“This morning’s announcement by the board was unexpected and is a short sighted decision that undermines the fundamental basis of the sister city programme which promotes goodwill, tolerance and international understanding.

“The announcement is also senseless given the theme of this year’s convention – Celebrating New Zealand / China Connections – From Culture To Commerce.

“Many delegates had already arrived in the country and to simply say at this late stage – we have changed our minds, you are not welcome here, go home – is not only inexcusable, but rude and inappropriate.”

The council is working today with the Guangzhou delegation to make alternative arrangements for their stay in New Zealand, prior to their pre-arranged visit to Auckland.

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