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.