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Anderton Speech: Sister Cities NZ Convention

Jim Anderton Speech to: Sister Cities New Zealand Convention
Copthorne Hotel,



Mayor Yvonne Sharp
Sister Cities President Jeremy Dwyer.
Distinguished overseas guests, from China, Japan and Canada

Almost half a century has passed since the Sister City programme first formed in the US.

It’s worth looking at the vision of the first sister city relationships and their aims.

Although I’m here as Minister for Economic Development, it’s important to remember that sister city programmes are not primarily about the economy.

They are about achieving international understanding.

The first sister city relationships were formed to help produce friendships.

The movement began with a hopeful purpose of promoting global citizenship and peace throughout the world.

There is a grim irony that the date of the first Sister City convention in the United States in 1956 was… September 11.

Now that date reminds us of our demanding responsibility to build global understanding and peace.

And Sister Cities help us to reach across cultural divides.

They help us to promote the understanding and harmony that is the foundation of a peaceful world.

The more we understand our fellow global citizens, the more we understand our own culture.

Everything we hope to achieve for the well-being of those whose cities and countries we govern depends on a peaceful world environment.

The more contacts we have with the rest of the world, the more we have contact with good ideas, and they enrich us.

We have less than a thousandth of the world’s population in New Zealand.

I think we are a talented and creative country, but even if we had ten times as many good ideas per head of population as the rest of the world, we would still have less than one per cent of the world’s good ideas.

So our contacts, co-operation and links with the rest of the world open up the other 99 per cent of good ideas.

This is why we must welcome and encourage the different ways of broadening and deepening our contacts across the globe.

I welcome our guests here from China and Japan.

Today our New Zealand culture and heritage is on show at the Aichi expo.

Our links with Japan are deep and strong.

As Japan has grown and matured into a dominant global economy, the cultural, social and economic links between New Zealand and Japan have flourished.

Our relationship with China goes back to the dawning century of modern New Zealand, when traders shipped seal skins from the South Island to Guangzhou.

More than thirty years ago, the government of Norman Kirk established diplomatic relations between New Zeal and China.

I worked with Norm Kirk when I was a young man and I knew him as a leader of vision and courage.

And what he saw when he looked to China was the inevitability of its growing influence in our Asia-Pacific region.

Today we see how that role overlaps with New Zealand’s priorities.

China’s role in working with developing nations is increasing.

It made a major and generous contribution to relief and reconstruction after the tsunami disaster.

Its assistance includes US$83 million in financial assistance, writing off Sri Lanka’s debt, and hosting a post-tsunami reconstruction conference.

As China’s influence grows, so does the presence of the visitors we welcome to New Zealand from China.

Increasing numbers of Chinese tourists are visiting each year.

Since 1997, visitor arrivals from China have increased more than five-fold from 16-thousand to 84,000 in 2004.

That’s an average growth rate of 31 per cent a year.

Cultural and social ties between New Zealand and the world are deepening among young people as well.

New Zealand is becoming the first choice for an increasing number of international students seeking quality education.

Our universities, colleges and other institutions offer students a unique environment.

Students attending New Zealand schools and New Zealand English language schools find it easy to make the transition to the next level of education.

So our networks and relationships are benefiting our neighbourhood.

The Sister Cities movement has contributed strongly to promoting these links.

Sister Cities complements other initiatives we are taking to develop and strengthen our relationships in the region, such as through our Seriously Asia initiative.

Sister Cities linkages are pivotal and have contributed directly to regional strengthening and international partnerships.

And we are not forgetting our friends from Duncan City with whom we share many similarities and from whom we can draw a wealth of experience.

Like the Far North, Duncan City is a stunning ancestral homeland of First Nations people - the Coast Salish Indians - who have built on their strengths in arts, crafts, culture, tourism, food, jewellery and their famous sweaters.

Their creativity is providing opportunities and a future for generations to come.

Duncan's downtown revitalisation programmes, Cowichan region's economic development programmes and their community policing and Safer Futures programmes set a high standard for regional development.

The school exchanges I have no doubt will build life long relationships.

The message we can draw from the power of these links is that partnerships make a huge difference.

Whether between cities across the world, or between groups across individual communities and regions, collaboration helps to unlock our potential.

In regional development, partnerships within communities, and between central government and regions, help to break down the barriers to growth and to build on our strengths.

Right here in Northland we have proof of the strength of partnerships.

Many representatives of cities around New Zealand have heard me talk about this region as an example of what we can achieve.

When I first came to Northland as a Minister in early 2000 – just five years ago, it was struggling.

Population was dwindling
Young people were being told they had no future here
There was little co-operation or planning.

Today I urge you to visit Moerewa, just down the road from this resort.

I saw that community at rock bottom.

Back then though, it was a community with fierce dignity and a passion for its future among those who lived there.

They resolved that their community would have a future because it was their home.

Their reconstruction of their township is an inspiration to the whole of New Zealand.

It was built on the vision of the community itself and its partnerships with others in the region and with central government.

Moerewa’s success is a microcosm of Northland’s regional development activity.

Northland was one of the first regions to pick up the challenge of the Regional Partnership Process

There was widespread commitment from local authorities and business here from the beginning.

The recovery of this region is on display for you to see now.

But the job has only begun.

It’s more important than ever to build on the beginning we have made.

The development of our regions doesn’t happen by accident.

It results from businesses innovating and creating products that effectively market our talents.

It depends on investment in the skills of New Zealanders.

Our economic development depends on partnership between government and those industry sectors with the highest potential for growth.

And it depends crucially on our networks and international linkages.

We need to access the opportunities the world offers us if we are to enjoy the lifestyles of other developed countries.

The Sister Cities programme helps to connect New Zealand’s regions with the world.

It helps to exchange ideas and build relationships.

We are enriched by the cultural diversity and understanding these links bring.

That alone is reason enough to promote Sister Cities.

But we can also take advantage of the many mutual opportunities that exist for us to collaborate economically.

To our international visitors, I urge you to experience New Zealand’s advantages.

Our creativity, our uniqueness and our flexibility.

And to New Zealand Sister City agencies, I urge you to seek new ways to build deep economic links with the cities of the world.

There has seldom, perhaps never, been a time when we could gain so much from our links.

The demand for better understanding between the communities of the world has seldom been as urgent.

The responsibility has seldom been greater for us to promote cultural exchanges and the harmony that results from more fully experiencing and understanding others.

And we are at the threshold of a deeply inter-dependent global economy, when the only way to prosper is to join the networks of the world.

These are heavy burdens on us, and we need to do all we can to meet the challenges they impose.

I wish the Sister City movement well in expanding links with the world and meeting those challenges.

The theme of this conference is sailing into the future.

As you promote your links to the world, the seas we sail on get smoother and the winds a little fairer.

Sister Cities New Zealand Convention 2005

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