The Sister City concept is based on the belief that world peace can be achieved through better understanding between ordinary people and, that by developing enduring networks of communications, it is possible to cut across boundaries and reduce the likelihood of polarisation and conflict between nations.
Masterton treasures its relationships with Changchun (China), Hatsukaichi (Japan) and a friendship with Armidale (Australia).
Our Sister City Changchun is a city in northeastern China with a population of approximately 7 million people. It is renowned for its motor vehicle and train construction industries and world-class Sculpture Park.
Don and Lorna Simpson, teachers from Wairarapa College went to teach at Jilin University in Changchun in 1977, a time when China was just opening itself to the west. Following their time spent there and contributions by other educators from this area that followed, a Sister Cities Agreement was signed 30 years ago. There has been an ongoing relationship particularly with teacher education, and culture related exchanges. Most years a small group of officials and business people will come and visit Masterton.
Local artists including Roger Thompson and Sam Ludden have attended international sculpture symposia there, and in 1980 Sam created a sculpture based on Eels in the shape of a traditional Maori net. It now has pride of place beside the central lake in the internationally recognised sculpture park of some 90+ hectares.
There are regular teacher exchanges, with educators coming from China to learn about our education system and teachers from the Wairarapa spending several weeks teaching across several schools and year groups, sharing knowledge about New Zealand and our culture in return.
To celebrate the thirty years of our relationship Mayor Lyn Patterson recently planted a tree in Changchun and the Chinese, in turn, have donated authentic roof tiles to build a Chinese Pavilion on the green space behind the shops at Kuripuni. This green space already has cherry trees planted by Hatsukaichi students from Japan and another tree by a group of citizens from Changchun. This pavilion is to become the centrepiece for the ongoing development of this space as a symbol of the cultural and educational relationship with our overseas friends.
Our Hatsukaichi (which is part of the Hiroshima prefecture) relationship came from the friendship built between previous Mayor Bob Francis and Mr Nakamoto Senior of Woodone Japan, Mr Nakamoto was passionate about trees and as a result, New Zealand. Woodone is the parent company of Juken NZ and Hatsukaichi is their home port, Juken is a significant asset economically to this region. There is a bi-annual visit to Masterton by a small group of students who are selected from across Hatsukaichi and St Mathews Collegiate, in return, has an annual visit to the Prefecture.
Our Armidale relationship is maintained by a local Rotary Club. Armidale is very similar to Masterton as a rural service town and with a similar population. There are regular exchanges of Rotarians and there have been sports and cultural exchanges in the past.
Should you have more questions about the Sister City relationships you can contact Councillor Jonathan Hooker.