43                                                            02 May 2017

City Development Committee

26 April 2017




File: (17/701)





Report no: CDC2017/2/134


International Relations


Purpose of Report

1.         The purpose of this report is to outline the international relations work programme.


It is recommended that the Committee:

(i)         notes Lower Hutt’s longstanding sister and friendly city connections and the current status of these relationships;

(ii)        notes the current opportunities and limitations for Council in its international relations activity;

(iii)       decides to:

(a)        retain a more reactive approach with current in staff resources and        operating budget; OR

(b)        adopt a more responsive approach with required increased staff             resources and operating budget, and therefore recommend to the            Community Plan Committee an increase in budget;

(iv)      approves the respective proposed international relations work programme attached as Appendix 1 to the report; and

(v)       reports back to the City Development Committee every six months on progress.



2.         Lower Hutt has seven international relationships. Full details are in Appendix 2.

·    Tempe, Arizona, USA – sister city from 23 November 1981 (active)

·    Minoh, Osaka, Japan – sister city from 16 July 1995 (active)

·    Xi’an, Shaanxi, China – friendly city from 11 August 2000 (active)

·    Taizhou, Jiangsu, China – sister city from 30 October 2008 (active)

·    Hwaseong, South Korea – friendly city from 11 September 2009 (dormant)

·    Laredo, Texas, USA – sister city from 11 October 2011 (dormant)

·    Zhejiang province, China - cooperative region between Wellington regional cities established 06 September 2012 (dormant).


3.         In 2009 Council reviewed its sister cities and chose to take a reactive approach. Council agreed to:

·    retain the city’s four existing sister city and friendly city relationships;

·    retain the value of Council’s investment of past years and allow for the development of other international relations for proven opportunities;

·    an emphasis on the development of business to business relationships through sister city relationships

·    maintain Mayoral involvement in all international relationships and activities due to the unique advantages this provides in developing relationships;

4.         Community involvement is the foundation of any sister city relationship and wide-ranging engagement is the key to the success and value that our city can derive from our relationships. Two support organisations in the community provide the foundation to our relationships with Tempe, USA and Minoh, Japan. They are:

·      The Hutt Sister City Foundation has for 35 years run an annual student and teacher exchange with Tempe Sister Cities Inc. Members aspire to collaborate with other Lower Hutt sister city groups and in time establish similar style exchanges with more of Lower Hutt’s sister cities.

·      Hutt Minoh House Friendship Trust (HMHFT) was established in 2004 is based at Minoh House, 38 Normandale Road, Lower Hutt. The House provides a focal point for exchanges and Japanese culture classes and is home to a growing community with a common interest in Japan. The house was a gift from Minoh in 1999 and HMHFT is self-funding to promote Japanese way-of-life and cultural awareness. The Minoh City Mayor and President of Minoh Association For Global Awareness (MAFGA) are trustees on HMHFT.

5.         Other groups like Rotary and schools across the city have international projects and connections that offer person to person global interaction, a mutual exchange of ideas, and projects in cultural, educational and economic areas. Export businesses already operate internationally but rarely with the cities that we have a connection with.  We’re fortunate to have support within business community for leveraging our relationships including the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, Noel Group, Callaghan Innovation, Woburn International and others.


6.         International relations help Lower Hutt to position itself as a “great place to live, work, play and study and realise outcomes for our community including:

·      a strong and diverse economy;

·      residents that are actively engaged in community activities; and

·      building strong and inclusive communities.

7.         International relations activity supports three of the four priority areas in council’s Economic Development Plan 2015-2020 including:

·      stimulating growth and development; and

·      growing science, technology, engineering and manufacturing capability and businesses; and

·      continuing business support.

8.         To promote Lower Hutt internationally as a place, we need to promote New Zealand first. When overseas we identify as New Zealanders first, then as Wellingtonians and then as living in Lower Hutt. We are a very small city on the world stage, with limited resources to attempt a broad range of possible outcomes. We therefore rely on partnering with national and regional agencies to be able to engage in a meaningful and effective way with other countries. Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) offers specialist experts in business attraction and Wellington City Council international relations team have strong networks as the capital city of New Zealand. We are currently developing stronger working relationships with both of these organisations.

9.         New Zealand Trade and Enterprise offers international market advice and public and private sector contacts, using their extensive network of staff, industry leaders, or expatriate New Zealanders. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can assist with offshore work including consulate support and advice when visiting cities overseas and providing the New Zealand context for Lower Hutt to position itself within.  Council therefore needs to ensure Government agencies understand Lower Hutt’s offerings and opportunities to maximise support available and could do this through working with WREDA.

10.       In terms of what we offer international cities Lower Hutt has several strengths including a safe neighbourly community and a beautiful city; quality education and lifestyle; strong sporting codes that achieve national and international levels; our STEMM sector activity and the proximity to New Zealand’s capital city. These are all opportunities to develop and build initiatives that we can extract value from.

New relationships

11.       Council receives several requests per year for new relationships with Lower Hutt. Council has focused on its current relationships, though requests are always looked at with our preference that any new relationship will be industry or community-led. Assessments are made and have been tested against three key criteria:

·      common interest and cultural links;

·      community or industry support and resource to drive activities within the relationship; and

·      strategic or economic benefit to Lower Hutt.

International students

12.       International education is one of the New Zealand Government’s priority export focus areas. Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) has partnered with the region’s education sector to set an ambitious Wellington International Student Growth Plan (WISGP).


13.       There are strong benefits from investing in attracting international students including:

·    the economic value for our city and region;

·    enriching the learning experience and global perspective of our students and city; and

·    potential international ambassadors for our city.


The current level of resource limits our ability to develop and service new relationships if they were formed.

14.       Five Lower Hutt schools and WELTEC are currently funding partners of Education Wellington via WREDA and are signatories to the International Student Code of Practice with a total of 604 equivalent full-time students each year. On average each international student spends $28,215 (Source: Infometrics/WREDA) which is one of the highest average spends nationally. Much of the spend goes beyond education and friends and family who visit students while here in New Zealand can each spend on average $3600 per visit. (Source: TIA Tourism 2025). The contribution to the local economy is estimated to be significant as outlined in this table:


Equivalent full
time students

Estimated equivalent economic value to region per annum

Chilton St James



Hutt Valley High School



Sacred Heart College



St Bernards



Wainuiomata High School






Total annual economic value per annum:


Source: studyinwellington.com/WREDA

15.       Discussions with schools to date shows a desire to match the WISGP targets and potentially increase student numbers in the city by another 100 which would generate approximately an extra $3m in revenue per annum.


16.       Council has a new agreement with WREDA to contribute to the WISGP and can assist with:

·    building awareness of Lower Hutt in the eyes of international students, parents and agents within the Wellington regional context;

·    work with education providers to improve infrastructure and capacity; and

·    develop student pathways to keep students in Lower Hutt and the region for longer.

Regional stakeholders

17.       Council is looking to increase its engagement with Wellington City Council who is keen to collaborate in planning, resourcing and sharing expertise. Porirua City Council has recently reviewed its sister city activities and has limited resource to engage with them. They are looking to effectively participate in the New Zealand China Mayoral Forum in December through WREDA. Upper Hutt City Council has no active sister city relationships. Lower Hutt is also fortunate to have several embassies located here and be neighbours to our capital city. 

Council’s role

18.       There are strong expectations that Council delivers international relations service to the community. The New Zealand Government sees tourism and export industries such as international education and tourism as a priority – as well as Lower Hutt’s innovation and STEMM sector. Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) have been very active in facilitating and driving participation in the NZ China Mayoral Forum later this year as well as the New Zealand Core Cities project to set up collaborative engagement with China. Sister Cities New Zealand aims to increase global co-operation at a local level, promote cultural understanding, stimulate economic development and foster a citizens’ network of organisations and individuals devoted to creating and strengthening partnerships between New Zealand and international communities.

New Zealand is a small export driven nation and depends on its ability to engage with a range of countries and international organisations.

19.       Council needs to ensure it focuses its resources on its distinct role and where it can make a difference. This includes:

·    Providing leadership for the city’s relationship.

·    Facilitating networking, partnerships and collaboration. Significant skills and resources exist in other agencies and council should be well connected to regional and national organisations that can assist with relationship building.

·    Promoting the city as a great place to live, work, study and play - and eliciting the greater whole of participating stakeholders.

·    Providing political support. The Mayor plays a key role in international relations and any boost in council’s aspirations will come with the expectation that the Mayor is accessible for hosting visitors and lending political support to initiatives. Mayors are held in very high regard especially in Asian countries and mayoral endorsement opens doors not otherwise possible to other organisations and people.


Current service level

20.       Hutt City Council currently facilitates city to city relationships where opportunity exists for economic, educational and cultural links. Council enables a sister city programme where residents can become directly involved in international relations bringing long term benefits to the local community and partners overseas. Current resource includes:

a.    International relations manager role is 0.15 of 1 FTE 

b.    Special project manager – approx. 0.15 of 1 FTE 

c.     Staff support the Hutt Minoh Friendship Trust through venue and property management, accounting and secretarial support.

d.    The Mayor’s office offers civic support and hosts delegations.

e.     An operating budget of $30,000 per annum.


21.       A scan of other councils resourcing suggests that Council has an opportunity to have much more productive and effective relationships with increased resources. Palmerston North City Council has recently adopted a new 1 FTE role to manage its two international relationships and Wellington City Council has hired a further 1 FTE to help manage three new international relationships. More detail can be found in Appendix 3 attached to the report.


22.       There are a number of opportunities for Lower Hutt including:

a.    international student growth and additional revenue for our city;

b.    STEMM learning and development;

c.     connecting Lower Hutt based STEMM institutions with overseas equivalents;

d.    partnerships with China Medical City research and/or production industry;

e.     growing the number of school to school connections;

f.     creating innovative cross-sector exchanges and as promotional tools;

g.    growing community participation in international relations; and

h.    promoting the city as a destination and lift Lower Hutt’s profile to international student markets.


23.       The International Relations Work Programme is attached as Appendix 1 and outlines the anticipated projects and workstreams for both our current reactive mode and a more responsive mode to show the level of service that Council could provide under each scenario. Regardless of any change in resource Council should:

a.    reaffirm sister city ties formally with a 3 year statements of intent with each city (as recently done with Taizhou);

b.    undertake a stocktake of international connections across our education sector;

c.     review our International Relations Policy;

d.    grow awareness of our (regional) relationships and established networks;

e.     leverage skills and established networks with Hutt Valley Chamber Commerce, Wellington City Council and WREDA to realise mutual opportunities;

f.     empower community engagement in international relationships;

g.    leverage Lower Hutt’s strengths (eg. STEMM and international achieving sport codes); and

h.    continue to seek economic opportunities.


24.       Council faces a number of challenges including:

a.    limited council resource

b.    the scale of international cities – particularly China

c.     language and cultural barriers

d.    difficulty establishing business to business relationships - in matchmaking and as long term outcomes

e.     attracting international business to Lower Hutt

f.     limited resources in the sister city supporting organisations.


25.       Two options for the service level Council could provide are presented:

Option A

a)         Remain reactive. 
Retain staff resources at current 0.3FTE.

Retain the operating budget at $30,000. Retain the international student attraction support budget at $15,000. This means a total budget of $75,000 including staff resource.


Service levels will include:

a.    Focus on two priority relationships.

b.    Maintain and raise awareness of relationships.

c.    Strengthen Japan and USA activities.

d.    Work via Wellington City Council for China.

e.    Host inbound delegations.

f.     Manage one outbound delegation visit every two years.

g.    Assess, investigate and facilitate beneficial opportunities.

h.    Support Hutt Minoh House Friendship Trust and the Hutt Sister City Foundation.

i.     Work with stakeholders to identify common goals.

j.     Work with government and national agencies primarily through WREDA and Wellington City Council.


Option B

b)         Be responsive.
Increase staff by 0.7FTE from current 0.3FTE to an equivalent of 1FTE.

Increase the operating budget from $30,000 to $60,000. Retain the international student attraction support budget at $15,000. Including staff resource this means a total budget of $165,000.

Service levels will include:

a.    Develop three/four priority relationships.

b.    Strengthen Japan, USA and two China city activities.

c.    Grow networks and raise awareness of relationships.

d.    Host inbound delegations.

e.    Lead an outbound delegation visit every year.

f.     Assess, investigate and facilitate beneficial opportunities.

g.    Support Hutt Minoh House Friendship Trust and the Hutt Sister City Foundation.

h.    Promote the sister city links and drive organisations and business to leverage these through campaigns, networking events, city events and

i.     Develop targeted programmes and products with each sister city to deliver value.

j.     Promote Lower Hutt offshore at hosted trade shows alongside Education New Zealand

k.    Bring in specialists to assist with each relationship.


26.       In preparing this report Council has got input from

·      Hutt Minoh House Friendship Trust

·      Hutt Sister City Foundation

·      Education New Zealand

·      Wellington City Council

·      Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA)

·      Porirua City Council

·      Upper Hutt City Council

·      Palmerston North City Council

·      Local partner schools to Education Wellington / WREDA

·      Ongoing interaction with community organisations such as Rotary.


Legal Considerations

27.       There are no legal considerations at this time.

Financial Considerations

28.       Option A above is to remain reactive.  Retain staff levels at current 0.3FTE. Retain the operating budget at $30,000. Retain the international student attraction support budget at $15,000. This means a total budget of $75,000.
This means no net increase to existing budgets.

29.       Option B is to become responsive. Increase staff by 0.7FTE from current 0.3FTE. Increase the operating budget from $30,000 to $60,000. Retain the international student attraction support budget at $15,000. This means a total budget of $165,000.
This is a net increase of $90,000 over existing budgets.

Other Considerations

30.       In making this recommendation, officers have given careful consideration to the purpose of local government in section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002. Officers believe that this recommendation falls within the purpose of the local government in that it will encourage cultural and economic development, strengthen our community’s culture and provide an opportunity not otherwise available to communities.  It does this in a way that is cost-effective leveraging of existing relationships and connections with our sister cities.






HCC International Relations work programme 2017-2019



Lower Hutt international relationships status and summary



Sister city comparison to other councils





Author: James Lamb

Visitor Market Development and International Relations Manager







Reviewed By: Gary Craig

Divisional Manager City Development




Approved By: Kim Kelly

General Manager, Strategic Services