Tonight is an opportunity to recognise those who have been involved in a voluntary nature in forming the relationship and keep it lively and current with a variety of exchanges.
Then there is Charlie Lee, who liaised with Songpa for the formation of the relationship, which was signed in the Christchurch Town Hall in February 1995, by Vicki Buck who has now returned to serve as a ward councillor and Deputy Mayor of Christchurch.
Paul Macdonald, our current Honorary Consul, is a previous sister city chair who oversaw the 10th anniversary celebrations in Christchurch in 2005.
Current sister city Chair Phil Tappenden, has a real passion for the relationship. Phil has worked tirelessly supported by Deputy Chair Mary and other committee members to build the relationship, particularly sister school relationships and student exchanges. I should also mention Phil's partner, Insun Kuk, who has assisted the delegation so ably.
And Forbes Taylor, Korean Veterans Association – it is that association that forged such a powerful link between New Zealand and Korea.
Sister city relationships are a wonderful way of creating connections that have an inter-generational reach, creating an interest in people and places that extends beyond the tourist experience. City to city is so much more personal than country to country.
Benjamin Barber has written a book called 'What if Mayors Ruled the World' and in it he talks about the world of borders, boundaries, walls – 'a world where states refuse to act together'. Yet we know that the reality we experience day to day is a world without borders, when it comes to diseases, education, technology, terrorism and war.
He says that the road to global democracy doesn't run through states. It runs through cities. City halls in Seoul, Amsterdam, Hamburg & New York are starting to think what that might look like.
And so are we here in Christchurch. We have joined the 100 Resilient Cities Network sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation so that we can connect with other cities on disaster risk reduction, sustainable community development and climate change adaptation.
We in Christchurch share this passion for sustainability and finding solutions to the challenges of climate change with Songpa-Gu.
On that note, may I propose a toast to the Mayor and the citizens of Songpa-gu – may our 20th anniversary affirmation of our special relationship honour you Mayor Park and all the citizens of Songpa-Gu.