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Sister-Cities – 40 years and counting

Guilin Hastings Mayor signing

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst signs the affirmation of the Hastings-Guilin Sister City agreement, first signed 40 years ago.

The 40th anniversary of the Hastings-Guilin Sister City relationship has been formally marked, with the mayors of both cities signing a reaffirmation document.

At a ceremony in the Osmanthus Gardens in Cornwall Park yesterday (March 3), Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst highlighted the benefits of the relationship, including that hundreds of Hastings teachers, scientists, business people, councillors, students, musicians and cultural group members had travelled to Guilin over the four decades, to experience life in Guilin.

In return, Hastings had hosted numerous groups from Guilin.

“We have shared our culture and our heritage, shared knowledge and learnings across a range of fields, from science to education, and learned much about each other’s way of life,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.

She said it was great that Hastings District Council youth councillors were at the ceremony, as they would be the generation that would need to keep the Sister City relationship flourishing “over the next 100 years”.

“Our students who take part in exchange visits with their Guilin peers have been our most frequent travellers, and when they return they are so excited and energised by the things they have seen and experienced.”

Also at the ceremony were Hastings District councillors, a Hastings Rural Community Board representative, Hastings District Council International Advisory Group members, and three special guests representing their organisations’ members: NZ Chinese Association vice president Jenny Too, NZ China Friendship Association president Dave Bromwich, and Hawke's Bay Multicultural Association president Sukhdeep Singh.

Guilin mayor signing

Guilin Mayor Qin Chuncheng signs the affirmation document, before sending it to Hastings for Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst's signature.

Hastings District councillor and Hastings-Guilin Sister Cities events organiser Kevin Watkins said it had been intended to be a larger event, but the COVID Level 2 restrictions resulted in a much-reduced guest list, to enable social distancing.

It was fitting that the ceremony was held in the main pavilion in the Osmanthus Gardens, he said. “The gardens were laid out in 1996, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our Sister City relationship. The Guangxi Institute of Botany sent over one of its fine landscape designers, Zhao Jian, who spent a year working with our people to design and lay out the garden. Much of it was funded through donations, not least the main pavilion, which was a gift from the Hawke’s Bay Chinese Association.

“Every year, when we festoon the gardens with lanterns for a week, it is a reminder of the strong relationship we have with our Sister City Guilin.”

In Guilin, Mayor Qin Chuncheng had signed the reaffirmation as a Hastings exhibition was opened to the public in the Central Hall of the Guilin Museum. It is made up of photos and video, celebrating the relationship and showing “the landscape and life of Hastings”.

Further Sister City events in Hastings planned for this anniversary week, which had to be delayed with Level 2 being in place, had now been spread across the year. The Lighting of the Osmanthus Gardens lantern festival will run over the second week of April, and a live show, celebration dinner and trade and education showcase are scheduled for September.

4 March 2021

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