May I also use this opportunity to acknowledge former Honorary Consul for Korea, Paul MacDonald, and announce that I will be formally presenting him with a Civic Award for Services to International Relations on 1 December. Please join with me in a show of appreciation for his service to this community.
I read President Park’s inspiring speech that she gave on August 15 this year. She reminded us that Korea was the first erstwhile aid recipient to become an official donor country, as well as taking active part in the United Nations’ peacekeeping activities.
She said: “As we share our development experience with the developing world, we are becoming a ‘cause for hope’ in many countries that are aspiring to prosperity”.
The Republic of Korea’s record of achievements – described by the world as the miracle on the Han River - is the fruit of the blood, sweat and the indomitable enterprise of the Korean people.
She went on to speak of “the twin wings of a creative economy and cultural enrichment, which offer answers to the demands of the 21st century”.
These are inspiring words, because they pay tribute to how much a country can achieve despite the challenges they had to confront after the ravages of war and now look forward beyond a global economic downturn. Here in Christchurch we can take heart from those words as we continue beyond recovery to the world of possibility that regeneration offers – the twin wings of a creative economy and cultural enrichment speak to our future too.
2015 celebrates another anniversary, but this one is more personal to us – it is the 20th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Christchurch and Songpa-gu. For the non-Koreans here today a gu is an autonomous district. Songpa is the largest district in Seoul and is not quite twice the size of Christchurch with nearly 650,000 residents, but they are squeezed into 33km². That’s about 20 times smaller than our urban area.
We have much in common – most obviously with our parks and gardens, but also with our aspirations for liveability and sustainable urban development.
Cr Ali Jones led the official delegation to Songpa on my behalf to celebrate our twentieth anniversary and has been emphatic in her praise of Korea, the warmth of the Korean people and the amazing culture she experienced.
The delegation of nearly 60 people coincided with the NZ Festival and Nga Manu a Tane kapahaka group were elevated to stardom when they shared a platform with Korean star Ha Ji Won at the opening of the festival!
We are very fortunate here in Christchurch to have such an active and engaged Korean community and we thank you for sharing your culture with the city today.