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Sister cities

New Plymouth has strong relationships with its two sister cities, Mishima in Japan and Kunming in China.


Sister city agreements were signed in both cities by Mayors David Lean and Kichiro Okuda in 1991. The first document was signed in Mishima, Japan, coinciding with Mishima's 50th anniversary of city status. Later that evening thousands of residents lined the main street as the New Plymouth delegation led a street lantern parade.

The second signing took place in New Plymouth a few weeks later, as part of New Plymouth's 150th anniversary celebrations.

In Mishima, sister city activities are coordinated by a community group called the Mishima International Relations Association (MIRA). MIRA has an elected president and an executive committee.

Group of exchange students standing in front of the Mishima Torii Gate

There have been numerous exchanges both from and to Mishima since the sister city agreement was formalised.  Every year New Plymouth families play host to junior high students from Mishima. The students stay in local homes and experience kiwi life. The students attend local schools with their host brothers and sisters.

In 2006 the inaugural Mishima-New Plymouth teaching programme started. Every two years, Mishima and New Plymouth send a teacher to spend up to a month in their sister city to observe learning and teaching practice in local schools and to interact with educational colleagues and the wider community. The teacher is home-hosted within the local community. In the period to 2011, seven teachers have undertaken exchanges.


Learn more about Mishima


Prior to the signing of a formal sister city agreement, the links between Kunming, Yunnan Province and New Plymouth District involved regular contact between the horticulture, education and business sectors.

A formal sister city relationship began in 2003 after the agreement and memorandum of understanding was signed in New Plymouth on 11 August 2003 and in Kunming on 8 October 2003.

Kunming garden in New Plymouth

During the sister city signing celebrations in New Plymouth, the Mayor of Kunming gifted a garden to the city’s people. In collaboration with landscape professionals from the Council a team of designers from the Kunming Landscaping Bureau created a traditional Chinese garden within Pukekura Park. 

The garden features a moongate entrance and pavilion connected by a meandering pathway. Chinese species were used to emphasise the landscape character.

Costs of building the garden were met by the Kunming Municipal Government. We hosted the Kunming construction team during their stay in New Plymouth.


Learn more about Kunming

Moon shaped gate at Kunming Garden, Pukekura Park.

Moon shaped gate at Kunming Garden, Pukekura Park.