In 1993, Fran Wilde, then Mayor of Wellington, visited Sakai and signed an agreement to set up a sister city relationship. On 4 February 1994 in Wellington the Mayor of Sakai, Hideo Hataya, and Mayor Wilde formally signed the sister city agreement.
The Wellington Sakai Association was set up in 1995. The mission of the association is to support the Council in the development of the sister city relationship with Sakai. There is also a Sakai Wellington Association in Japan.
Wellington and Sakai have a wide variety of exchanges, including educational exchanges, an annual marathon event and exhibitions of art, pottery and ikebana.
Arts - Residency Programmes - Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE)
In July 2009, the Council, the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Embassy of Japan held the first Japan festival of Wellington.
The festival was held to coincide with the 15th anniversary of sister city relations between Wellington and Sakai. It featured a diverse range of traditional and modern Japanese culture and was enjoyed by thousands of Wellingtonians.
The festival was also supported by the Sakai City and the Wellington Sakai Association.
Japan festivals have also been held in 2010 and 2012.
Through Wellington's sister-city link with Sakai, every year a Wellington marathon runner can take part in the Senshu International City Marathon in Japan. Sakai is one of the host cities of this major running event.
In mid October, Wellington City Council and the Wellington Sakai Association ask for entries from marathon runners to represent the capital in the marathon the following February.
News - Run in the Senshu Marathon 2014 - 22.10.13
The 2013 winners, Stephen Day and Michelle Van Looy travelled to Japan, spent three nights in a home stay and took part in the race.
Criteria to apply to run in the marathon
To enter, applicants had to:
- have completed marathons
- be a Wellington city resident
- be over 18 years old
- be a regular runner, fit and in training
- be able to run a mostly flat course marathon in winter conditions in 4 hours or less
- be very keen and able to be an ambassador for Wellington
- be very interested in embracing, adding to and taking part in the Wellington-Sakai sister city relationship while in Sakai and after you return home.
Wellington Sakai Association