Can I first thank Consul General He and her team for today’s arrangements; it’s a pleasure to be celebrating this occasion in person for the first time in three years!
Consul General, you have made a great impression on many people in your short time in our city. I’m sorry that I personally won’t get to work with you much longer! However, I do wish you an enjoyable tenure in our city and region, and every success in your work here
Can I also acknowledge Sarah Pallet, MP for Ilam; Penny Simmonds, MP for Invercargill; Neil Brown, Mayor of Ashburton; John Leggett, Mayor of Marlborough; Gary Kircher, Mayor of Waitaki; Sharyn Cain, Deputy Mayor of Waimate, all of my Council colleagues and special guests, it’s great that so many of you could come at this time.
We gather in honour of the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. While the People’s Republic is young, we all know that China has an incredibly rich history that spans hundreds of years.
Our part of the world has long had a strong relationship with China, which is also steeped in history, of which Rewi Alley has played such an important role. Born in Selwyn, raised in Hurunui and Christchurch, and a lifetime of service in China he created an unbreakable bond, which is the foundation of the friendship between NZ and China.
Today, we enjoy Sister City relationships with Gansu and Wuhan, a friendly relationship with Shenzhen and broader people-to-people and economic connections with many places in China. I know the same is true of all the districts and regions represented here today.
It is especially important to reflect on these relationships this year, the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.
Everybody in this room contributes to the bilateral relationship in some special way, and we celebrate what at their heart are people-to-people relationships.
We can all be very proud of what we have achieved and look to the future of the relationship with optimism.
On that note, I would like to propose a toast to the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, and the ongoing friendship between the people of our two countries for many years to come
Xie xie, tena tatou katoa