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Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick welcomed 43 residents from China's Rotorua-Nanjing township to Rotorua, with a pohiri at Rotorua Museum.

Mrs Chadwick was joined by executive members of the newly formed Chinese Business Association, Rotorua Chinese Association, councillors, council staff and a Te Arawa cultural group.

The Chinese delegation's visit yesterday followed visits to Rotorua by more than 300 residents from Nanjing's satellite town over the past 10 years.

The recently built Chinese township bearing Rotorua's name, is in the Jiangling district of the provincial capital Nanjing. Public buildings in the centre of town have been designed to replicate the look of several Rotorua public buildings, including the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, and there is even a scale replica of Lake Rotorua, complete with Mokoia Island.

Rotorua-Nanjing has been planned to accommodate a community of around 5000 well-educated and relatively affluent Chinese residents in modern western style houses.

People purchasing a home in the new development receive a holiday in New Zealand's original Rotorua as part of their purchase arrangements.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the annual visit continues to strengthen the relationship between Rotorua and Rotorua-Nanjing Town.

"It's become an enduring link based on friendship between their town and our district which has grown over the last 10 years," she said.

The delegation's leader said the group was very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Rotorua and meet local people.

He said the delegation has travelled through New Zealand and had been warmly welcomed, and would share their experiences with their friends at home, and especially Rotorua's beautiful scenery.

Rotorua District Council has a Friendship City relationship with Nanjing, a city of more than seven million people which has been singled out by the Chinese government for development as an economic and technology hub, with numerous industrial parks and education centres.

The eastern Chinese city is the capital of the Jiangsu province and is part of the Yangtze River Delta economic zone. Nanjing has long been an important national centre of education, research, transport networks and tourism.

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