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Council Honours Sister-city Advocate

HONOURED: Sammy Wilson is helped to plant the tree dedicated to her by parks and reserves team member Ranee Whiting (left) and deputy mayor Andrew Iles. TROY BAKER / WHAKATANE BEACON 

Twenty-five years of service in international relations has been recognised this week with a tree-planting at the Japanese Gardens.

Sammy Wilson has been involved with the Whakatane District Sister Cities Association for several decades and her commitment to the association was honoured with the planting of a weeping cherry tree yesterday.

Mrs Wilson, who is terminally ill, said it had been a privilege to serve on the association and she had many fond memories of her involvement.

This included taking a letter from the Whakatane mayor to Whakatane’s sister city Warwick in Australia and “bowling up” on the back of a motorbike.

Mrs Wilson said she had also been lucky enough to travel to Whakatane’s Japanese sister city, Kamagaya, twice.

Deputy Mayor Andrew Iles said Mrs Wilson’s contribution to the association had been invaluable and she continuously hosted visitors from the two sister cities in her home, including three generations from one Japanese family.

“We could always rely on Sammy to help us with hosting,” he said.

Mayor Judy Turner said the sister cities programme was not always well understood and she was pleased to recognise Mrs Wilson’s “considerable” contribution.

She said the association helped promote the district, investigated trade opportunities and facilitated exchanges of students.

“It builds international friendship and trade opportunities between local businesses,” she said. “That commitment to economic development is mutually beneficial.”

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