Coun­cil­lors pass on over­seas trip


‘‘I struggle to see the value in sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ships.’’

‘Thanks, but the tim­ing’s not right.’

Coun­cil­lors have voted against send­ing a del­e­ga­tion to a Ja­panese city due to costs.

Nobuo Ya­m­aguchi, Mayor of Hakone, had in­vited a Taupo¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil del­e­ga­tion to visit and cel­e­brate the 30th an­niver­sary of the sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ship in Novem­ber.

Coun­cil­lor Rosanne Jol­lands spoke first at Tues­day’s coun­cil meet­ing and called for the coun­cil to cut costs.

‘‘In this par­tic­u­lar in­stance I would be keen for us not to go be­cause we have a lot of un­bud­geted ex­pen­di­ture and some big ticket items planned,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m talk­ing about the coun­cil build­ing plans, ex­tra costs with the Waita­hanui con­nec­tion to the wa­ter sup­ply and we’ve got some items with the Long Term Plan, par­tic­u­larly about Con­trol Gates Bridge.

‘‘I’m quite keen to be pru­dent where we can and cut our costs on un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture, and I think this Ja­pan trip is one.’’

Coun­cil­lor Chris­tine Rankin was dis­mis­sive of the value in the over­seas trip.

‘‘I struggle to see the value in sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ships,’’ she said.

‘‘I don’t want to be part of this and I don’t want to go.’’

Coun­cil­lor Wil­liamson said he could be ac­cused of nepo­tism if he sup­ported spend­ing coun­cil cash on the trip, given his mother, for­mer Mayor Joan Wil­liamson, signed up for the sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ship in 1987.

He agreed with coun­cil­lor Jol­lands, say­ing the trip would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘I think the tim­ing is not right for this.’’

Hakone is 80km west of Tokyo and 1.5 hours drive from Mt Fuji.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Taupo¯ and Hakone be­gan in 1987 and is based on their shared at­tributes of geo­ther­mal ac­tiv­ity and sim­i­lar ge­og­ra­phy.

An es­ti­mated 19 mil­lion tourists travel to Hakone each year for its many geo­ther­mal hot spring re­sorts.

Taupo¯ has sis­ter City re­la­tions with Noumea in New Cale­do­nia and Suzhou in China, as well as Hakone.

The Tu­rangi Ton­gariro Com­mu­nity Board has a friend­ship city re­la­tion­ship with the Ja­panese vil­lage of Ki­tash­io­bara, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 3500.

Mayor David Tre­wavas was ab­sent from the meet­ing.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gareth Green said coun­cil of­fi­cers would write a po­lite let­ter to Hakone coun­cil to de­cline and to ex­plain why.

The view of Mt Fuji from Hakone, one of Taupo’s three sis­ter cities.

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