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Dragon boaters buoyed by China festival



30 June 2006

Dragon boaters buoyed by China festival

The Auckland City dragon boat team has returned elated from the International Dragon Boat Festival held in our Chinese sister city, Guangzhou.

The team, made up mainly of staff from Auckland City trained intensively for the event and competed against top international teams. They are very happy with their result, enjoying two fourth-place finishes, even edging out a German men’s team in one race.

However, Auckland City’s international affairs coordinator, Nicole Darth, says the sister city relationship was the real winner.

“One of our goals was to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. Participating in such a significant event was a really unique and special way to capture a part of what life is like in Guangzhou,” she said.

The Auckland City team also proved a hit off the water performing at the festival.

“One of many highlights was the spine-tingling impact our waiata and haka had on the audience at the festival prize-giving,” Nicole said.

Nicole also met with her counterpart in the foreign affairs office to discuss the possible visit to Guangzhou by an Auckland education delegation next year.

Auckland City will return the hospitality when a Guangzhou dragon boat team attends an Auckland regatta in the future.

Auckland City master data officer and crew member Melanie Beauchamp said the event was unbelievable.

“We went as a dragon boat team but, with the sister city link, it became so much more than that.”

The Auckland-Guangzhou sister city agreement was signed in 1989 to encourage cooperation in trade, science, technology, culture, arts, education, sport, tourism and municipal administration.

The Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Festival is a major event, with the 2006 race attracting over 100,000 spectators who watched 107 teams from throughout the world. In 2005, 8200 participants competed in this event.

Guangzhou is home to approximately seven million people. It is the largest, most prosperous city in southern China and is its commercial and international trade centre.

The team was supported by Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, who sponsored part of the airfares, and Opus International Consultants Limited, who substantially increased their usual annual sponsorship for the team.


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