Timaru marks 10 year sister city relationship with Japan

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Published: 23 Feb 2018

The 10 year Sister City relationship between Timaru and Eniwa in Japan was celebrated with the mayors of each city unveiling a plaque this week.

The plaque, which is situated under the tree in front of the Council building, was unveiled by Timaru District Mayor Mr Damon Odey and Mr Yutaka Harada, Mayor of Eniwa.

Mr Harada was joined by a group of delegates from the Japanese city, as well as the Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand, Mr Toshihisa Takata and the Head of Information and Cultural Section Mr Kiyohiko Hamada.

The city of Eniwa, which is on Hokkaido in the north of the country, first signed the sister city agreement in 2008. It has led to educational and cultural exchanges, as well as agreements to support one another in disaster situations. The city is a close match to Timaru District, as major agricultural district with significant industry.

At the ceremony, Mr Harada said that while it wasn’t the oldest of the 41 sister city arrangements that New Zealand cities have with their counterparts in Japan, but it’s one of the closest.

“Ours is a young relationship, but a lot has happened in that space over the past ten years. More than 42 students from Eniwa have come to study in Timaru, and all hold New Zealand close to their hearts.

“It’s from this base that I hope we can continue to further our relationship.”

Following the ceremony in the council chamber, the group were taken a tour of the district’s industrial and agricultural heartlands.

Timaru District Mayor Damon Odey said that around 47 students had taken advantage of the ties with the region to spend time studying in Japan.

“These educational exchanges have been incredibly valuable to the students taking part and the wider community.”

Currently the first of four groups of students from Hokkaido Bunkyo University in Eniwa are visitng Timaru to study a short courses in the School of English at the Timaru campus. They will also be taking a trip to Geraldine and a picnic at Peel Forest Farmstay, visiting the Mt John Observatory at Tekapo and a taking a trip to the South Canterbury Museum.

“As a city that is open for business and trading to the world, fostering strong sister city relationships like this one builds understanding about the needs of our trading partners and how our district businesses can build their business abroad,” said Mr Odey.

“These visits are also an important cultural exchange, every visitor we have through these programmes becomes an ambassador for our amazing district when they return home.”

Timaru has four sister cities throughout the world: Orange, New South Wales, Australia, Established in 1986; Orange, California, United States, Established 1990; Weihai, Shandong Province, People’s Republic of China, Established in 1999; and Eniwa, Japan, Established in 2008.

The aim of the programme is to strengthen international exchange for activities in arts, culture, education, sport and trade.

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021