An exchange of gifts, songs and signatures has shored up the friendship between the New Zealand port city of Whangarei and the Chinese port city of Haikou.
A delegation of high-ranking officials from Haikou government and civic departments was in Whangarei yesterday to formalise the "Friendly City" relationship between the two cities and NorthTec.
Signing ceremonies - with an air of informality and warmth - were held at NorthTec and Forum North after a whakatu (welcome) at Porowini Marae in the morning.
Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai and Ren Qing Hua, deputy mayor of Haikou Municipal People's Government, led the ceremony at Forum North.
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The Chinese delegation included the assistant principal of the Haikou College of Economics, a manager from the Haikou Tourism Development Commission, deputy director of Haikou Culture and Sport which includes public broadcasting, and a senior official from the Haikou Education Bureau.
"This relationship has been building for 10 years during which representatives from [the Hainan province] have visited Whangarei," Ms Mai said.
"Discussions between our cities will initially focus on international education via NorthTec which has had a bilateral international education relationship with China for many years.
"The coming years will bring regular contact between the leaders and relevant departments of the two cities to ensure communication, exchange and consultation on issues that could benefit both cities.
"Encouraging and stimulating business activity and investment is a key objective."
Haikou, with a population of just over two million, is the capital and biggest city of Hainan province.