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Lee Speech Sister Cities Convention

4 April 2002 Speech Notes

Sister Cities Convention

9:00 am
Thursday, 4 April 2002
Keynote Address
Annual Sister Cities Convention
“Trading Cultures – Strengthening Friendships – Enchancing Economic Relations”
Blenheim

Mayor Tom Harrison, Fran Wilde, Jeremy Dwyer, delegates

Thank you for inviting the Deputy Prime Minister to open this sister cities convention. He apologises that he is unable to be with you this morning, and asked me to deliver his speech.

To all of you here today, on behalf of the Government of New Zealand, welcome.

Your work and commitment to improving international links and understanding is valued by this Government and by those who understand what you are doing.

The Deputy Prime Minister has developed a growing respect for the sister cities movement through the last two years as he has worked as Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development.

New Zealand’s success in the world will be affected by the relationships we build within regions, between industries and with the rest of the world. The better our relationships, the more successful our future will be.

In April 2001 Prime Minister Helen Clark visited Japan and discussed opportunities to take our relationship with Japan to a new “level of engagement”. Following that visit forestry, tourism, education, ‘new economy’ and people-to-people relationships are being investigated by officials.

Sister Cities New Zealand has been involved in these investigations. I understand that your experience with links between organisations in different countries been highly valuable in these discussions.

Our relationship with our nearest large neighbour Australia is important to us all. Stronger sister city contacts with Australia are encouraging and can only be helpful in the long term, whatever happens with the world cup rugby.

Some cities are using the sister city links to strengthen this relationship, for example I understand Christchurch has in the past few years made a number of visits including trade delegations to Adelaide which are likely to have long term economic benefits to both countries.

The economic benefits of these relationships are not well understood.

The government is pleased to announce today that $25,000 is to be made available by the Ministry of Economic Development to Sister Cities NZ to study economic benefits from sister cities to the NZ economy.

Dwight D Eisenhower launched the concept of sister cities in 1956 during the cold war. His assumption, was that if peoples had strong links they would be less inclined to go to war together.

He said:

“If we are going to take advantage of the assumption that all people want peace, then the problem is for people to get together and leap governments - to work out not one, but thousands of methods by which people can gradually learn a bit more of each other."

"The purpose of the sister cities programme is to increase international understanding and foster world peace by furthering international communication and exchange at the person-to-person level through city-to-city affiliations. "

What has become apparent to many is that co-operation and working together takes effort as well as shared goals.

Countries with sister cities relationships have continued to have conflicts.

It is important for all organisations that shared direction and common areas of interest can be identified.

The most successful sister city relationships are those that have strong personal links and where both cities know which areas they want to work on together.

Clearly the sister cities movement has been phenomenally successful. The web site for New Zealand Sister Cities shows the large numbers of relationships and the activities undertaken by towns and cities across New Zealand.

The government wishes you well in all your deliberations this week on behalf of your respective cities.

I wish you a productive and enjoyable conference and a pleasant stay in this beautiful town.

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