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North Shore City Mayor returns from Taiwan

North Shore City Mayor returns from Taiwan
October 31, 2003

George Wood's recent visit to Taiwan gave the North Shore City mayor an insight into integrated public transport ticketing systems, waste reduction initiatives, virtual cyber cities and science-technology parks - lessons that could usefully be applied in his own city.

Mr Wood led a New Zealand business delegation to Taiwan, this country's eighth largest trading partner and home to Taichung with whom North Shore City has a sister city relationship.

He returned earlier this week impressed by the pay-off from Taiwan's significant 30-year investment in infrastructure, education and technology.

The Taiwan New Zealand Business Council had invited the mayor to lead the delegation which included several North Shore-based organisations looking to build business opportunities.

It was George Wood's third visit to Taiwan since 2000 and North Shore City's economic development manager, David Knowles, accompanied him on the eight-day business trip.

"We spent the first three days looking at various innovative systems that the Taipei City Government has put in place.

"The progress made in areas such as integrated ticketing for its public transport system since I first went there three years ago is an example for Auckland to follow," he says.

"(Taipei) Mayor Ma (Ying-Jeou), updated me on his city's integrated public transport ticketing and solid waste reduction programmes, and how Taipei has used the Internet to build a cyber city (www.taipei.gov.tw/English/cyber-city-taipei.htm."

While in Taipei, Mr Wood visited one of 14 toll stations dotted along the Taiwan motorway system. The Tai Shun toll station services 225,000 vehicles and generates US$200,000 daily.

The former police inspector was impressed by the scale, speed and quality of the roading network which was perhaps best symbolised by the BMW Series 5 cars of the traffic police which patrolled the motorways.

The highlight of the trip was the 16th Joint Conference of the New Zealand/Taiwan and Republic of China/New Zealand Business Councils held in Taichung, which built on last year's conference held in North Shore City at the Spencer on Byron.

George Wood was hosted by his mayoral counterpart, Dr Jason Hu, during his stay in Taichung and says the sister city link is in good heart.

"Mayor Hu and I agreed that we're building a good relationship but it must take the next step to develop cultural, service club and business exchanges," says Mr Wood, a Takapuna Rotarian since 1997.

"I caught up with an English-speaking Rotary club in Taichung and I'm keen to link fellow Rotarians from our two cities as we have so much to learn from each other."

Mr Wood says he was impressed by the huge investment in education, research and technology, adding that the key to the Taiwanese success story is its strong education system including 150 universities.

"There is a third science-technology park planned in Taichung and I would like to see North Shore City build on our own reputation as a high-tech centre of innovation by working closely with our Taiwanese friends.

"Dr Diana Twigden who chairs the joint advisory board between Smale's Farm and Massey University came with us to Taichung and was as impressed as I was about their latest science park.

"I would like to see the partnership develop so that we can share information and ideas that will benefit our local entrepreneurs and innovative educators."

George Wood acknowledged the Auckland-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Office which was instrumental in arranging the recent trade delegation and the creation of the North Shore City-Taichung sister city link back in the mid 1990s.


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