Global Cities New Zealand – Celebrating decades of diplomatic relations with our international partners

Group photo of key guests at the Global Cities New Zealand Forum 2022. From left to right: Mr Ockchae Yoon, Hiromi Morris, HE Mr Tom Udall, Mayor Grant Smith, HE Dr Wang Xiaolong, and HE Mr Ito Koichi.

From left to right: Mr Ockchae Yoon (Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to New Zealand); Hiromi Morris (GCNZ Emeritus President & Forum Coordinator); HE Mr Tom Udall (Ambassador of the United States of America to New Zealand, Samoa, Niue & the Cook Islands); Mayor Grant Smith (GCNZ President); HE Dr Wang Xiaolong (Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to New Zealand, the Cook Islands & Niue); HE Mr Ito Koichi (Ambassador of Japan to New Zealand, the Cook Islands & Niue)

Global Cities New Zealand Forum 2022: Celebrating Diplomatic Relations

As a member of Global Cities New Zealand (GCNZ), Priority One recently attended the GCNZ Forum 2022 held in Wellington, themed with celebrating New Zealand’s Diplomatic Relations – Global connections and diversity through citizen diplomacy.

2022 is a special year for New Zealand’s bilateral relations as we celebrate major milestones with our international partners: 80 years of diplomatic relations with the USA, 70 years with Japan, 60 years with South Korea and 50 years with China. Ambassadors to New Zealand gave presentations on the value and benefit of these international relations, and how to focus our efforts going forward. Common themes emerged around collaborating towards a sustainability focused future, strengthening of trade agreements, educational exchanges and building strong people-to-people connections.

GCNZ advocates for the important role that cities, communities and citizens play in New Zealand’s global relations, representing the interests of its members in liaison with Government ministry and agencies with the forum also serving as a platform to relaunch the GCNZ Youth Subcommittee, which aims to raise youth awareness for Sister City relationships within Aotearoa New Zealand and increase youth involvement, both politically and socially.

Sister Cities in New Zealand

Dean Prendergast, Priority One representative, delivering a speech on Sister City relations at the Global Cities New Zealand Forum.
Priority One representative, Dean Prendergast, speaking on Sister City relations at the GCNZ Forum

New Zealand has approximately 150 global city partnerships (Sister Cities, Friendship Cities and Strategic Partners) spanning more than 20 countries around the world. Within this international network, Tauranga has two Sister Cities: Yantai, China (established 1987) and Hitachi, Japan (established 1988); and a Friendship City agreement with Ansan City, South Korea (established 2014).

Sister City relationships aim to foster cross-border communications. Whether that’s an exchange of ideas, people, culture, economic development or tourism, it’s about building a long-standing relationship to broaden our cities’ understanding of another culture. For Tauranga City and our international partners, these deep-rooted connections have promoted internationalism and cooperation across the art, education, sport, tourism, public relations, innovation, business and trade sector between our countries.

Recent Tauranga Sister/Friendship City Outcomes

Though Covid had stumped many in-person exchanges over the past couple of years, some recent outcomes from Tauranga Sister/Friendship City agreements include:

  • Sister City | Hitachi, Japan: An active relationship of exchanges between the Tauranga Girl Guides and Hitachi Girl Scouts; sharing of natural disaster management information (earthquake and tsunamis), including a donation of 20,000 masks from Hitachi’s Mayor during the height of the pandemic; recruitment opportunities to live and work in Hitachi as ALTs.
  • Sister City | Yantai, China: Trade development and product promotion within Yantai; sports cooperation between BOP Rugby Union and China Rugby Football Association; connections with the University of Waikato Coastal Marine Field Station and Yantai Coastal Zone Institute; culture and arts exchanges between local schools.
  • Friendship City | Ansan, Korea: A long-standing student exchange relationship between local primary schools; Cultural exchanges; city/economic development examples.

Next year (2023), Tauranga and Hitachi will be celebrating 35 years of sister city relations, with a commemorative event planned for mid-Autumn to acknowledge the anniversary. If you, or someone you know has had involvement in the Tauranga-Hitachi sister City relationship through exchanges, homestays, business or tourism, and would like to be involved in the commemoration event, please contact our Communications Executive, Dean Prendergast:

If you would like to learn more about GCNZ, visit:

Group photo of attendees at Global Cities New Zealand Forum 2022, held at the Grand Hall of Parliament Building on November 10th, 2022.
Attendees to the Global Cities New Zealand Forum, 10th November 2022, at Grand Hall, Parliament Building