President's Report - Rosemary Jones

President’s  Report

 Our Wellington Sakai Association has had another busy year.  Since our last AGM which was held on Tuesday 10 September last year, your committee have held a number of functions and participated in many events (see attachment).  As the list is too long for me to report on every event, I shall report on a few highlights of the year.

 AGM & AGM Dinner at Kazu Japanese Restaurant

 As part of our WSA annual calendar, after our AGM we usually hold a get together dinner with our members when we can stay in touch and chat informally.  This dinner was held at Kazu Japanese restaurant and was quite well attended.  To express our thanks to our members for their support, we gave a small subsidy towards the costs of this dinner.

Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Exhibition – Post WWII

 Further to our meetings held from last year, this exhibition finally took place from 24 January to 9 February, and the photos of this tragic event were exhibited at the WCC library.  These photos were very moving, and the objective of this exhibition was to promote peace internationally.  They were also to remind the public, particularly those who were born post WWII, of the enormous devastation of the atomic bomb.  The hope is that these historical tragedies will never be repeated again.

Wellington / Sakai Associations’ 20th Anniversary

 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the Sister Cities relationship between Wellington Sakai Assn and Sakai-Wellington Assn.  To mark this historical event, we held a picnic at Katherine Mansfield Park.  This venue is most suitable for the occasion of holding Japanese events because over the years, the Sakai city people have donated many Sakura trees to Wellington, and these have all been planted in Katherine Mansfield Park.

This year, through social media contacts and promotions, this function was well attended and proved to be most enjoyable.  Most people brought their own food, and WSA supplemented with some Japanese finger foods and drinks.  There were over 70 people in attendance, making this one of the most successful and enjoyable events for WSA.

 Senshu Marathon Event

 The Senshu Marathon event is a very successful event that WSA support annually.  This year this event took place from 14 to 23 February in Sakai city.  Each year we go through the process of advertising to invite marathon runners to apply.  We receive many applications, and after the process of vetting through the applications and interviewing the candidates, we select the best candidate to represent WSA and WCC to participate in the Senshu Marathon in Sakai City Japan. 

This year we selected Grant McLean, a very successful and well established marathon runner from Wellington.  Grant certainly did us proud as the representative of WSA and WCC.  Grant’s full report with photos on this trip can be read from our website www.wellingtonsakai.org.  But in brief and to quote one of Grant’s comments: - “.......I am also pleased to say the marathon went really well.  I exceeded all the personal goals and expectations I set prior to the event by running 2:37:52, being the 1st invited international athlete, 2nd Master overall (1st M40), and was officially placed 13th overall out of nearly 5000 runners……….”    Well done and congratulations Grant !!

 2014 Sister Cities Conference – Gore

This year the Sister Cities Conference was held on 3-5 April at the Scenic Circle Croydon Hotel in Gore.  Bill Nathan and I attended this conference as WSA representatives.   The theme of this conference was “Country to Country”.  Both Bill and I found this conference was very well organised, and the speakers were both enlightening and entertaining.  In this report, I shall just mention a few of the more interesting ones. 

The official welcome and powhiri was conducted by His Worship the Mayor of Gore Mr Tracy Hicks.  The MC was Gerry Forde who gave us a quick outline of the programme of the conference.  It was then followed by a key address by His Worship the Mayor of Invercargill Tim Shadbolt. 

As we all know, Tim Shadbolt is an extremely interesting and entertaining speaker.  He began by telling us about his life experiences starting from his university days in Auckland; and how he unintentionally entered into political life, and eventually got elected as Mayor of Waitakere.  He then told us of many hilarious incidents, and the inevitable story of his towing his concrete mixer with the Mayoral limousine !  Everyone in the audience was in fits of laughter !  Tim concluded his talk by telling the conference about his long standing and successful Sister City connection with Kumegaya city in Japan.

The conference then continued with another interesting and inspiring speaker – Mr John Anderson, the founder of Contiki Travel Company.  John talked about how he started his very small and humble tour business in the 1960s in London.  When he first started his business, he could only afford an old rackety second-hand mini bus which would only carry 11 student passengers.  But with sheer hard work, perseverance, and the determination to succeed over the years, his business is now has grown to a multi-million dollars touring business empire !

Then followed the Mayoral reception at Eastern Southland Gallery, and a dinner at the Thomas Green restaurant, which ended a very successful first day of the conference.

The second day started with the keynote address by Mr Rex Capil from Venture Southland.  Rex spoke on the great success on the work done by the Southland Education.  He talked about how they attracted hundreds of international students to the secondary schools in Southland, and the wide benefits gained by both the host families and the students themselves.

The next item was by John Sommerlad and Tony Mc-Cann’s presentation on Gore’s Sister City Tamworth in Australia.  Tamworth is situated 420 km NW of Sydney, and it is well known for its Country Music Festival.  The conference attendees were all issued with a Country Western straw hat !  John and Tony also gave a presentation on their latest connection with Nashville Tennessee USA, which of course is the home of Country Music.

After two full days of interesting presentations, the day finished off with the Air New Zealand dinner.  We were entertained by a couple of Country Western musical items performed by Gore’s local residents.  Then the highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winners of the Air New Zealand Awards.  I am very pleased to advise that Wellington City Council was awarded 1st prize in the Business or Commercial Project Category.

The SCNZ Conference finished on Saturday morning when four young Rotary International Exchange students gave some very interesting talks.  They all spoke very well and they all expressed their appreciation for their time spent in Southland.

There were also several other speakers that gave interesting talks at the Conference, these included the Australian High Commissioner, CLAIR, Real Journeys, Dunedin City Council and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

I must conclude reporting on the conference by thanking the Sister Cities Board for their wonderful organisation of this conference.  As we all know, work of this nature and magnitude demands a great deal of voluntary time, effort and personal expense.  Our congratulations must go to Hiromi Morris for being re-elected as President of the SCNZ Board at the AGM, and all the re-elected Board members as a whole for the wonderful work they did for this conference at Gore.

 Jkaiwa – Japanese Conversation Nights Project

 From August last year, WSA together with JETAA, Japan Society and the Japan Embassy, we have continued with the monthly session of JkaiWA.  So far this event has been well attended, and the attendees all seem to enjoy the practice of speaking Japanese very much.  For the last couple of months, we have even been getting some high school students attending as well. 

 Farewell to JET

 On Friday 1 August, I was invited to the Ambassador’s residence to farewell the JET students and teachers who were embarking on their exchange programme in Japan.  This programme is held annually and is very popular and well supported by the Japan Embassy.  There were about 30 students and teachers participating in this programme.

 2014 Japan Festival – TSB Arena

 Needless to say, the biggest event for our association is the 2014 Japan Festival held in the TSB Arena this year. The official opening ceremony was held on 22 August at Te Papa.  The official guests were the Sakai city Mayor Mr Osami Takeyama, the Chairperson of Sakai city Council Mr Juichiro Daimo, Mr Kanji Maede from the Sakai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and their delegation of 27 people.  They arrived at noon on Friday, not long before the official opening at Te Papa at 4:30 pm.

On the Wellington side, were our Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and a few WCC members; the Japanese Ambassador Mr Nogawa and a few Japan Embassy staff.  Jennifer King from Asia NZ was the MC. The programme opened with a Japanese Taiko Drum item and a Japanese dance item, followed by welcoming speeches from our Mayor and the Japan Ambassador.  Then a certificate was presented to Stephen Gale for the WNES programme.  The programme concluded with a couple of songs beautifully sung by a Japanese singer.

As per previous Festivals, the programme at TSB Arena was a full and an interesting one.  It included Taiko drumming, Calligraphy, Judo, Yosakoi and Koten Dance, Kendo, Tea Ceremony, Mochi Pounding, Kyudo, Kid’s Sumo and Origami.  There were also many Japanese Food Stalls, and these were very well patronised.  Some stalls had even sold out of their food quite early in the day. 

This year the main display project was the Giant Friendship Kimono created by JETAA.  WSA sponsored $2,000 towards this project.  This giant kimono was made up of pieces of material with artwork drawn on by school children from Wellington as well as from Sakai city.  This giant kimono was hung up and displayed in the TSB Arena.

Again this year the Festival, there were the usual display stalls.  The main activity for our WSA stall this year was, besides using our two kimono photo stands from the 2012 Japan Festival, a furoshiki activity.  We purchased the chosen material from Sakai city, cutting them up into square pieces, and we used these materials to teach how presents could be wrapped.  This activity proved to be very successful and many children and adults came to our stall to learn the skill of gift wrapping.

 Forthcoming Event – AGM & Dinner at Arashi

As advised in previous notices and e-mails, our AGM will be held on Tuesday 9 September.  We think this is a good opportunity for our members to get together.  We have arranged to have a Japanese dinner at the end of our AGM at Arashi Japanese Restaurant.  As a token of thanks to our members for their support, our committee have decided that we would give a small subsidy to our members for their dinner on this occasion. 

 Acknowledgement

As we can see from this report and the attachment, the year has been a very full one, filled with a variety of sporting, educational and cultural activities.  All these programmes can only be achieved with the hard work and dedication of our committee members.  I sincerely thank them for their great effort and support over the year.

I would also like to thank the Wellington City Council and their staff, the Japan Embassy, members of JETAA, and the Japan Society for their help and support on the various projects throughout the year.  But above all I would like to thank our WSA members for their continuous support by participating in all our WSA social activities.

Rosemary Jones, QSM

President – WSA