Palmerston North, New Zealand Delegation Visit; October 2018

» Palmerston North, New Zealand Delegation Visit; October 2018

Sister City Partnership Revitalized

For a full slideshow of images from the New Zealand visit watch the Youtube video below:

A six-person delegation from Missoula’s sister city Palmerston North in New Zealand visited Missoula from Monday,October 8th through Tuesday, October 16th. Mayor John Engen proclaimed October 13th through 15th 2018 as New Zealand Days. Palmerston North and Missoula have been sister cities since the early 1980’s. The last delegation visit to the Garden City was in 2010, by a three-person delegation.

Global and Cultural Affairs in Arts Missoula oversees the sister city program for the city of Missoula and developed a diverse program for the international visitors. The 2018 delegation consisted of Mayor Grant Smith and his wife Michelle Smith, Wiremu and Trieste Te Awe Awe, a Māori chief and judge, Associate Professor Hone Morris from Massey University and Academic Coordinator for the Massey’s School of Māori Knowledge and Toni Grace, International Relations Manager, overseeing Palmerston North’s global city partnerships and diplomatic relations. “Our goal was to offer a balanced program that would allow the delegation to strengthen existing collaborations, but also introduce the members of the group to individuals and offices in Missoula, as well as Helena, so new connections could be made and future opportunities could be explored in the areas of research, business, trade and tourism”, according to Dr. Udo Fluck, Director of Global and Cultural Affairs.

October 9th, was the first full day of meetings with Mayor Engen officially welcoming the delegation to Missoula, followed by a city tour facilitated by Linda McCarthy, Executive Director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership and a luncheon sponsored by the Missoula Downtown Association. The afternoon the delegation spent on the University of Montana campus, meeting with UM President Seth Bodnar, Provost and Executive Vice President Jon Harbor, Director of Global Engagement, Marja Unkuri-Chaudhry and Scott Whittenburg, Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship. UM and Massey University have been partners for many years, supporting student exchanges between both institutions. UM Advocates provided a campus tour, before a welcome reception at the Payne Native American Center closed the first day of activities at UM.

The delegation had the opportunity the following day, to tour the Missoula College (photo to the left), visit with the Clark Fork Coalition, before touring the Missoula Children’s Theater and the Missoula Art Museum, ending the second day with a visit of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

October 11th was spend in Helena, with a visit to the Governor’s Office, a tour of the Capitol Building and meetings with representatives from the MT Department of Commerce, Export Montana, (photo on the right) as well as a meeting with members of the Offices of International and Domestic Tourism.  A walk through Last Chance Gulch and a visit of the Montana’s Museum, of the Montana Historical Society completed the day trip to Helena.  October 12th brought the delegation to the Salish Kootanai College, to meet their president, administrators and faculty, before visiting the UM Biological Station at Flathead Lake.  An evening gathering connected the delegation to leaders in the community and allowed for the exploration of shared economic interests. Tom Bensen, Executive Director of Arts Missoula: “The delegation visit was a great example of sister-city cultural exchange – involving meetings with tribal members, city and state officials, University of Montana administrators and Missoula’s arts and cultural organizations.  But just as important, it also highlighted the potential for economic development and collaboration, which is essential as Missoula becomes more of an international city in the years ahead”.

Mayor Engen had proclaimed October 13th, 14th and 15th as New Zealand Days and what better way to celebrate the sister city connection than with the annual Tubby Thompson Rugby Match at the Fort Missoula Maggot Field, where the delegation members performed a traditional Haka, a type of ancient Māori war dance, traditionally used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace, before the rugby kick-off. On their last day, the visitors had the opportunity to explore the scenic Bitterroot Valley with a trip to Hamilton, including a photo opportunity with bison roaming on Bitterroot Bison Company land. On their last evening, the Palmerston North group was “warming-up” the patrons at the Roxy Theater, who came to watch Hip-Hop-Eration, a New Zealand film, part of the new World View Film Series.

The farewell activities included the signing of the 2018 Strategic Sister City Partnership Memorandum, pledging a rejuvenation of the partnership between the two cities, by identifying economic opportunities for development and collaboration. “This sister city connection is not just a document, it is strategic, creative plan and collaboration with goals that will benefit young and old communities in both cities. On a scale from 0-10, 10 being the best possible outcome of an international visit, the result was off the charts”, according to Dr. Fluck. Thanks for reading!

The Missoula Current newspaper published an article about the recent Sister City Delegation Visit. It is available here.