The way Dunedin has developed its sister city links with Shanghai is a model for others to follow in fostering ties with China, New Zealand consul-general at Shanghai, Michael Swain, says.
At a function at the New Zealand consulate in Shanghai last week, Mr Swain hosted a 16-strong delegation from the Otago Museum and another delegation led by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, including senior representatives from the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, Dunedin Shanghai Association and Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust.
Staff exchange accord
Dunedin had always adopted "a very Dunedin Inc and New Zealand Inc" approach, with the city council working closely with the university and the polytechnic and other educational institutions, as well as with the Dunedin-Shanghai Association, business organisations and other groups, he said.
It was a "very important week" for Dunedin and New Zealand, marked by the opening of a major Otago Museum exhibition in Shanghai.
"Tremendous opportunities" for Dunedin and New Zealand trade were opening up in China, and New Zealand and Ngai Tahu were also gaining an enormous media profile in Shanghai through the "extremely impressive" exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, Mr Swain said.
Dunedin not only worked collaboratively, but had also maintained a strong continuity in its sister city links, he said.
Mr Swain acknowledged the high importance of the Magnolia Gold Award which former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin received in Shanghai last week from Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng.
Mr Chin is believed to be the first New Zealand resident to receive the award.
The award had come as a surprise, Mr Chin said, and was a "huge honour".
In an address delivered to the consulate function on Wednesday last week, Mr Swain said Dunedin's sister-city relationship with Shanghai gave Dunedin "enormous potential".
Closer links with Shanghai were "not just an opportunity for us" [New Zealand] but were "an absolute imperative", Mr Swain said.
• John Gibb's visit to Shanghai was supported by a travel grant from the Asia New Zealand Foundation. http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/170543/shanghai-dunedin-links-even-stronger By John Gibb on Mon, 25 Jul 2011
News: Dunedin | Peter Chin