Dunedin stands to benefit from a flurry of diplomatic
activity on the world stage, Mayor Dave Cull says.
Mr Cull made the comment after returning home from a recent
two-week trip to Edinburgh and Otaru, Japan, and then playing
host to a high-powered visiting delegation from Shanghai.
Mr Cull, Cr Neville Peat and council arts community adviser
Cara Paterson spent a week in Edinburgh from July 29, before
Cr Andrew Noone replaced Cr Peat for the trip to Otaru, from
August 6 to 12.
Mr Cull said the Dunedin delegation's trip to Edinburgh aimed
to revitalise the relationship between the two cities on the
40th anniversary of the signing of their sister cities
The trip, at the invitation of the City of Edinburgh,
coincided with the Edinburgh Festival, when the city's
population ''doubled'' to one million, Mr Cull said.
The delegation's meetings with Edinburgh cultural
organisations included those responsible for the Scottish
capital's Unesco City of Literature status, Mr Cull said.
Dunedin was vying to become one of a handful of cities
worldwide to secure that status, which would help build its
reputation as an arts and culture centre, Mr Cull said.
What had been achieved in Edinburgh offered lessons for
Dunedin, including for its own arts festival.
''Edinburgh has redefined itself as the festival city of
Britain, if not Europe, and events and festivals bring it an
enormous economic benefit.
''We could learn a bit from Edinburgh and how they've done
The trip also included discussions about potential
collaborations between the two cities' arts and cultural
institutions, which would be pursued, although details could
not yet be divulged, he said.
''There are specific expressions of interest in collaborating
with various institutions here.''
In Otaru, talk turned to expanding links between their city's
University of Commerce and the University of Otago, which
were already productive but could be enhanced, he said.
Otaru's museum had also raised the prospect of exchanging
exhibitions with Dunedin's museums, while Otaru's marine
research centre wanted to collaborate with the University of
Otago's, he said.
The Japanese city was also grappling with issues - including
an ageing population and traditional industries that had
''faded away'' - which Dunedin could learn from, he said.
Mr Cull and Cr Noone returned to Dunedin in time for the
visit by members of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress,
headed by standing committee vice-chairman Xue Chao, from
August 19 to 21.
Mr Cull said talk during their visit included sending a
''technical team'' to Dunedin in the future, to learn more
about the city's environmental and waste minimisation
Earlier, the trips came under attack when Cr Lee Vandervis
described them as part of a council ''culture of
entitlement'' with questionable benefits.
Mr Cull told the ODT the council's costs - at less
than $20,000 for Edinburgh and Otaru - were ''very modest'',
and the trips were not junkets.
Costs for the Shanghai delegation's trip to Dunedin were not
yet available, but also believed to be modest.
''In Edinburgh, we got time to see the Tattoo and one show.
The rest of the time it was wall-to-wall meetings,'' Mr Cull
The benefit to the city was more than just ''monetary
value'', and included enhanced links between the cities'
institutions, which gained an ''enormous amount of value'',
''None of that would happen if it weren't for the sister city