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A new sister city for North Shore City

A new sister city for North Shore City

June 19, 2008

The North Shore City Council has voted to sign a sister city agreement with the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao (pronounced Ching -Dao)

Mayor Andrew Williams says the relationship is a good fit with North Shore City due to the geographical similarities, opportunities for marine recreation and industries.

"Qingdao is a city with China's second highest GDP and is about to host the sailing events for the 2008 Olympic Games.

"As a result of the Olympics, Qingdao has a growing need for marine technology and North Shore companies are already starting to take advantage of this". High Modulus (high tech boat construction) has established an office in Qingdao with other North Shore companies such as Teknatools - which produces wood turning tools - doing likewise.

"We are confident that the relationship is a good match - we are both coastal with big marine industries.

"Sister city relationships are also very important for the development of the international education business and this link with Qingdao has the potential to encourage more students to come and study here.

"This will see benefits going to schools, universities and private training agencies across the North Shore. It will also allow schools to develop their own sister school links which would bring even greater benefits. One private training agency - the North Shore International Academy in Albany is already investigating this possibility, says Mayor Williams.

The relationship has the backing of the New Zealand Government, the NZ Ambassador to China and NZ Trade & Enterprise, the latter is currently establishing a representative office in Qingdao.

Mayor Williams says such a sister city relationship enables New Zealand to open doors in China which wouldn't otherwise be opened.

"As mayor I will be able to set up meetings directly with the Qingdao Mayor and vocalise any concerns about important matters. That is something even the New Zealand ambassador to China cannot easily do, he says.

Over the past three years, during discussions with the city, there have been several delegations from North Shore City that have travelled to Qingdao including a group of school principals and international student teachers, led by Councillor Dianne Hale and also a delegation with yachting and marine experts.

Delegations from Qingdao to the North Shore have included a group of sailing experts who sought advice on preparation for the Olympic sailing events taking place in their city.

Mayor Williams says the relationship offers great potential for the city.

"I acknowledge some concerns around human rights issues in China but I see dialogue and relationships such as these as the key to working through such issues, says Mayor Williams.

"China is a big country with many cultures and millions of opinions - it is no mean feat to manage such a population".

Councillor Gillon and Holman voted against the agreement on the basis of the human rights issues in China.

The sister city agreement with Qingdao will be signed in Qingdao by Mayor Williams in August.

ENDS

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