A couple of weeks ago a group of Lytton High students returned from spending two weeks in Japan. They visited our Japanese sister city, Nonoichi, our Japanese sister port, Gamagori, and a host of other educational and cultural locations. My daughter, Te Kotuhi, was a part of this group, and it was a truly eye opening experience for all of our young students to be a part of. A big mihi to the staff and parents of Lytton high for organising this trip, looking after our teenagers and maintaining a connection between our city and our sister city/port in Japan.

This week there are no council meetings, however I will be following in the footsteps of our Lytton High students.

I am going to Japan as part of an Asia NZ Foundation funded delegation to help build, maintain and foster relationships with Japan. As part of this trip I will be visiting our sister city and our sister port formerly on behalf of council and the mayor.

These relationships are two of many that have been forged and led by the Gisborne District Sister Cities committee (GDSCC) on behalf of our council, and have been fostered and maintained by our community, schools and teachers.

Our sister city relationship with Nonoichi was established on the 30th of March 1990. Gisborne has a similar population to Nonoichi and has a climate that is suitable for the cultivation of camellias, the official flower of Nonoichi city. Next year will see the 30th anniversary of our sister city relationship.

As part of this relationship there is an exchange of self funded students between our two cities to deepen cultural understanding via homestays and school visits. Once upon a time most of our high schools were involved, currently this exchange is solely maintained by Lytton High School. The GDSCC also bought Taiko drums for tutorials and performances. These are currently housed at Lytton High.

The Gamagori and Gisborne port relationship was established on July 27th, 1996. At the time of the establishment of the relationship regular routes connecting the two ports had been established, and the relationship had become increasingly close, contributing significantly to the development of trade between Japan and New Zealand. Both ports have strong fishing backgrounds with rich seas nearby.

In addition, both cities with warm climates and are ”fruit bowls” of their nations.

At the time Gamagori port wrote ‘It is hoped that this partnership will deepen the friendly interaction between the two ports and lead to the development of world trade and the prosperity of the community to which both ports belong.’

The relationship was setup ‘in order to deepen mutual understanding and trust, and to promote the friendly relationship between Japan and New Zealand through various avenues such as economy, technology, culture and human interaction.’

Currently our sister port relationship is maintained via an annual photography competition where Gisborne and Gamagori exchange entries and people win prizes.

I look forward to meeting with both the mayors and the officials of Nonoichi and Gamagori. I am taking them gifts that talk of our region, taonga, photos of our landscape and people, and books about our culture and us.

Connecting like this broadens our children’s futures in ways ours never were.

Almost 30 years ago forward-thinking people setup these relationships, and hardworking people maintained them over the decades. I’m happy that I get to help play a small part in maintaining these relationships on behalf of sister cities and on behalf of our District council. I hope they endure for a long while to come.

As always, honoured to serve you Tairāwhiti.


Yoroshiku onegaishimasu