Wellington Mayor’s Asian Tour Seeks to Bolster Trade, Despite Financial Concerns


The esteemed Mayor of Wellington, Tory Whanau, has embarked on an ambitious 10-day business excursion to Asia along with four key city council officials, incurring a lofty expense of $50,000. An additional $12,000 has been devoted to send an official from WellingtonNZ, the region’s leading economic development agency.

The voyage, with Whanau at the helm, is an active initiative to enhance Wellington’s commercial ties with three of its foremost international trade collaborators – China, Japan, and South Korea. Representatives from Wellington’s film and educational sectors enrich the delegation, making it the first of such business ensembles led by the mayor to venture out of the capital in the past four years.

Mayor Whanau is keen on harnessing the prestige associated with senior political figures overseas, especially mayors, to make substantial headway in international business negotiations. She states unequivocally, “I’ll be doing my bit to help establish new relationships and strengthen those we already have. The objective is to secure pivotal alliances and fortify relationships between Wellington and Asia.”

Amid questions concerning the cost of the expedition, a statement was issued by Wellington City Council laying out the estimated figures. The travel and accommodation expenses for the mayor and the four staff are projected to be about $50,000.

This overseas venture occurs against a backdrop of potentially precarious financial circumstances for Wellington City Council that might impede Whanau’s grand campaign initiatives, with possible cuts in capital expenditures amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. As an indicator of the supposed “financial crisis,” councillor Diane Calvert sought legal counsel last week.

The team accompanying Whanau comprises a member from her office, an economic advisor, an international relations advisor, and an executive leadership team member. Stephen McArthur, Council’s Chief Strategy and Governance Officer underlined the necessity of such a support team, as this aligns with the arrangements of significant business delegations in the past two decades.

The series of diplomatic and strategic visits, arranged as a part of the delegation, includes Beijing, Tianjin and Wellington’s sister city Xiamen in China, Sakai in Japan to coordinate the upcoming 30th anniversary of Wellington’s sister-city relationship, and the capital city of South Korea, Seoul, where Whanau hopes to endorse a sister-city memorandum of understanding with the city’s mayor.

A special member from WellingtonNZ, Screen Wellington and Unesco City of Film manager Tanya Black, has been invited to be part of the mission due to the focus on screen industry investment opportunities. Black’s principal tasks during this venture will include fostering business and investment ties for Wellington studios, supporting cooperation agreements and international student kernel-centred around film education, and underscoring the significant role of the screen sector to the city of Wellington. As she promotes the Unesco City of Film programme, the trip serves as an incredible opportunity for mutual learning.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.


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