China's new ambassador to New Zealand, Wang Lutong, and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull are planning celebrations for next year's 20th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Shanghai and Dunedin. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Dunedin's relationship with China is at the forefront of Wang
Lutong's mind, in his new role as the 12th Chinese ambassador
to New Zealand.
Mr Wang (44) made visiting Dunedin a priority after his
formal admission to the Wellington-based role last month.
He has spent the past four days in Dunedin, meeting local
authorities and members of the Chinese community.
To date, Mr Wang's only other official trips within New
Zealand have been to Auckland.
He said Dunedin had historic importance for the Chinese, as
it was the first place in New Zealand they settled, during
the gold rush.
Dunedin's sister-city relationship with Shanghai was crucial
to strengthening ties between New Zealand and China, he said.
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the sister-city
relationship, which Mr Wang looked forward to.
''We'll have to have a big celebration for the anniversary,''
Mr Wang spent an hour discussing Dunedin's ties to China with
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday morning, and said the
meeting was ''very productive''.
He also talked about future development with University of
Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne on Friday.
China remained the largest source of foreign students in New
Zealand, he said.
It was also the second-largest tourism market for New
Zealand, and more Chinese visitors were now travelling to the
In the month since Mr Wang's appointment, there had been the
inaugural Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight between Guangzhou and
Auckland by China Southern Airline, as well as the opening of
the first Chinese-registered bank in New Zealand - the
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
Mr Wang said Dunedin had much to offer, particularly to
''I love this city. The landscape is so amazing and terrific
and the people here are friendly, open and hospitable,'' he
''The food is also tasty. It seems Dunedin has the best of
He visited Larnach Castle, Baldwin St, the Cadbury factory,
the First Church of Otago and the Dunedin Railway Station.
While touring the Otago Peninsula he enjoyed ''natural
wonders'' including albatross, seals and penguins.
Mr Wang said Dunedin's Chinese Garden was a real asset to the
city, and praised its authenticity.
''It's my hope that more and more local people in Dunedin go
to visit the Chinese Garden.''
He returned to Wellington yesterday, and planned to tour more
of New Zealand in his first role as an ambassador.
Christchurch-based Chinese consul-general Madame Tan Xiutian
was also in Dunedin for Mr Wang's visit, along with officials
from the Chinese embassy.
Before his move to New Zealand, Mr Wang worked for the
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and was a
counsellor on the CPC Central Committee.
He spent four years as third secretary at the Chinese embassy
in the United Kingdom, and was also recently appointed the
Chinese ambassador to the Cook Islands and Niue.