Delegates from around Asia, New Zealand and Southland are starting to arrive in Invercargill today for the Sister Cities New Zealand Annual Conference 2017 being hosted by the City.
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said about 100 people would be involved in the Conference and associated Mayoral and Community Forums from Thursday to Saturday this week.
“The Conference usually alternates between host cities in the North and South Islands every year. In 2016 it was held in Nelson, but when plans to hold the 2017 Conference in the North Island fell through, Invercargill gladly put its hand up to be the host.
“We see it as yet another opportunity to bring people into the heart of the city, staying in accommodation, shopping and visiting local venues and attractions. It all adds to our economy, plus furthers the Sister City ideals of peace, tolerance and friendship.”
The schedule begins on the afternoon of Thursday 4 May at the Kelvin Hotel, with the Mayoral Forum and the Community Forum. The theme of the Mayoral Forum is: Encouraging Immigrants to the Provinces and Keeping Them. Speakers from government, quasi government agencies and a representative of the Southland Filipino Society, Socrates Mallari, will give their perspectives on this.
On Thursday evening delegates will be officially welcomed to Invercargill at a ceremony and function at the Civic Theatre.
The full Conference opens on Friday 5 May at the Civic Theatre and the Conference theme is: Communication Overcoming Distance.
His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan, Toshihisa Takata and the Mayor of Kumagaya City, Japan, Kiyoshi Tomioka will give a joint opening address. They will be joined by Mayor Shadbolt to officially open the Conference, which runs until just before lunch on Saturday.
In addition to international speakers from Japan, China, and the United States, conference delegates include speakers from around New Zealand, plus successful Southland businesspeople such as Dil Belworthy from Glowing Sky and Jane Stanton from the Seriously Good Chocolate Company.
During their stay, delegates will visit the Awarua Communications Museum, Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff and Richardson’s Transport World. After the Conference has ended some delegates also have paid to take optional sightseeing tours to Riverton and Te Anau.