OPINION: Too often, the only letters about sister cities denigrate these associations by describing them as junkets and then add the spice of innuendo and incorrect facts.
The sister city movement was established by President Eisenhower after World War II to establish people-to-people connections - citizen diplomacy - and thus cement the peace.
This year the New Plymouth/ Mishima connection celebrates its 20th anniversary. We received a large delegation from Mishima last year to mark the milestone, while our small delegation to Mishima was delayed until this year following the Japan earthquake.
Our sister city connection began as a link between community groups. It has grown to one with connections between our respective local governments, schools and other educational institutions. We have student and teacher exchanges every year, Nihon University students study at Witt, and visits by Lions and Rotarians have led to connections between hundreds of people in our two cities. Mishima citizens have purchased property in New Plymouth - one, the Japanese Tea House, features in this year's Garden Festival.
This link results in better long- term cultural understanding, stronger educational and economic links and, above all, friendship. The benefits are substantial and the relative cost small.
We visit Mishima every three years, and this year's delegation to Mishima will be headed by the mayor - just as previous delegations were led by David Lean, Claire Stewart and Peter Tennent. I will be there at my own expense, as will a number of local residents wanting to further cement education and tourist connections. Neither the chief executive nor other councillors are going. If you want to join this delegation, contact the council.
NPDC International Working Party Chairperson
- © Fairfax NZ News
What's your view of sand mining?Related story: Environmental group urges mining fight
with Rachel Stewart
Matt Rilkoff's perspective of contemporary life
with Gordon Brown
With Kathryn Calvert
The self-confessed bard of Brixton, offers views on life, politics and Akubra hats.
with Glenn McLean