A fantastic “first-in-the-world” year-long project has been launched in Hastings – starting with an exchange of gifts between Hastings and all the regions of China. The project is designed to morph into a competition, along similar lines to the very successful Amazing China Face Races.
On Friday, Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst and project director Councillor Kevin Watkins unveiled the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism 2019 project. It complements the national China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019.
The Hastings project, officially endorsed by Tourism New Zealand, will see every one of China’s 30-plus regions invited to send Hastings a small ‘treasure chest’ containing something that uniquely represents their region. In return, Hastings District Council will send a gift representing Hastings.
The chests will be prominently displayed in Hastings, but initially they will be unopened.
“There is an excellent reason for that,” said Mr Watkins. “We envisage that the chests will become part of a secondary school competition; run along similar lines to our previous Amazing China Face Race competitions. Students will need to use their researching skills to match the gifts with the region they have come from. The first three students to correctly match all of the gifts with their home region will win.”
The full details of the competition and the prizes are yet to be finalised, said Mr Watkins.
“As always with these competitions, the aim is to build understanding and friendship between our two countries. Today’s students will undoubtedly interact more with China – one of the world’s largest and most populous countries – in a way that previous generations have not needed to.
“Building relationships and cultural understanding at this age and stage means they will have a good basis on which to interact.
“We believe this project, involving all of China’s regions interacting with a city like Hastings and turning it into a competition for high school students, is a first-in-the-world.”
The China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 protocol was signed by China’s Premier Li Keqiang’s and then-New Zealand prime minister Bill English in 2017, during a visit to New Zealand by Premier Li. The vision for the national initiative was to provide opportunities for China and New Zealand to strengthen economic ties through tourism. On the official website (www.cnzyot.govt.nz) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern says the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism will “strengthen the already deep ties” between the two countries.
For New Zealand, “it is an opportunity to showcase to China what makes Aotearoa a world-class destination: Stunning national landscapes, unique experiences and products, and maanakitanga, our warm and friendly Kiwi welcome”, Ms Adern said.
“Given Hastings strong ties with China – we were the first city to form a sister-city relationship with a city [Guilin] in China - it made sense for us to make the very best of this opportunity,” said Mr Watkins.
The district has strong economic ties with China, through horticulture exports and international education, and many friendly-city relationships.
Notification of the arrival of the treasure chests and other updates will be made public on the Hastings District Council’s Facebook page and through press releases, Mr Watkins said. “This is going to be fantastic – a year-long celebration that we can all enjoy.”
14 March 2019
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