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Sisterly Cities Celebrate 20th Anniversary

Friday 16 November 2012, 5:35PM

By New Plymouth District Council

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NEW PLYMOUTH

The 20-year Sister City relationship between New Plymouth and Mishima will be celebrated in the Japanese city this month.

A four-member delegation from New Plymouth District Council, with two community representatives and a local tour company operator, will be attending the celebrations. They will also visit schools and Nihon University as part of the ongoing student exchange programme.

Mayor Harry Duynhoven says a highlight will be the unveiling of a clock tower at Rakyjyen, the old villa of the Imperial family, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Sister City agreement.

“I am personally looking forward to visiting Nihon University, which has had student exchanges with WITT for the last 12 years and regularly sends teachers to New Plymouth high schools,” says the Mayor.

“We will also visit Kita High School, which is considering establishing stronger links with a high school here.

“These exchanges are a fantastic opportunity for students in both countries to learn more about each other and have their horizons broadened. I’m a former teacher myself and I’m all for developing these links between schools as they can only benefit the students and teachers involved, as well as the host families.”

The delegation will be officially welcomed by Mayor Takeshi Toyooka and a formal dinner will include the New Zealand Ambassador to Japan Mark Sinclair. The Mishima International Relations Association is hosting a second dinner with more than 100 people – many of them former exchange teachers and visitors to New Plymouth – to celebrate the 20th anniversary.

The delegation departs next Wednesday (21 November) and returns the following Monday (26 November). It comprises the Mayor, Withers Coachlines’ Blair Withers, International Relations Working Party Chair Lynn Bublitz, International Relations Working Party member Lynn Murray and her husband Bruce, cultural adviser Trenton Martin and International Relations Coordinator Julie Straka.

The travel costs of Mayor Duynhoven, Cr Bublitz, Ms Straka and Mr Martin are being met by NPDC with the remaining members meeting their own costs.

In New Plymouth the third anniversary of the Sister City agreement was marked by the planting of a pohutukawa tree outside the Civic Centre, and the 10th anniversary with the installation of a traditional Torii gate on the Japanese Hillside in Pukekura Park.