Vivid memories of the devastation inflicted by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 were recalled at today's Hitachi sister city business forum held in the Tauranga City Council chambers.
Hitachi Mayor Akira Yoshinari said Hitachi had to live through the severest of conditions but life in the city had now largely returned to normal.
"Fortunately, there was no loss of life but many properties were damaged or flooded. Schools, roads and other public facilities sustained severe damage.''
This week's visit by a delegation from the coastal city on the island of Honshu features a forum to expand educational, cultural and business opportunities between the two cities that have been linked since 1988.
Mr Yoshinari said that thanks to the donations sent to Hitachi by Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby and all the citizens of Tauranga, and all the heartwarming messages of support, Hitachi was given the strength to fight its way back to recovery.
"We are truly grateful for this.''
The visit to Tauranga was supposed to have taken place last year but the earthquake and tsunami intervened. More than 17,000 houses collapsed in Hitachi.
"Now, together with the full support of local people, we are aiming with all our strength to reach even greater heights of recovery,'' he said.
Mr Yoshinari said he first visited Tauranga 20 years ago so it was extremely nostalgic to be able to return.
"Yesterday, I had the opportunity to walk around you city and I saw with my own eyes its energy. I was astonished at how far it had developed since I was last here.
"I truly hope that today's meeting will further deepen understanding and trust between our two cities and contribute towards our mutual prosperity,'' he said.
Hitachi's life and environment manager Jinichi Hashimoto, said no one wants to experience another earthquake like the one that hit Japan, but sadly no one knew what the future held.
"I would like to think about how we support each other in such a disaster.''