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.
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 Sakai City and the Wellington Sakai Association and has since been held every two years.