The 26-strong delegation, most members representing our education, film and creative sectors, left Te Whanganui-a-Tara at the weekend and is spending the first three days of the 10-day tour in China.
In the first two days, in Wellington’s Chinese Sister-City Xiamen, the Mayor has opened doors and facilitated an agreement between Massey University and Xiamen University that will see the alignment of film school curriculums making it much easier for Chinese international students to complete their degree at Massey. Xiamen University boasts one of China’s largest film schools. This agreement is a significant step towards attracting international students to our city.
International students are essential to the wellbeing of Wellington’s secondary and tertiary educational sector. In 2018 international students contributed $5.1 billion to New Zealand’s GDP plus a tourism contribution of $460 million to the national economy. In 2023 it is estimated that a single international university student contributes $50,000 per annum to the local economy.
Mayor Whanau has also led a pitch meeting to Chinese investors to secure the remaining funding for a Xiamen-Wellington co-production romantic comedy, set in both Xiamen and Wellington. It is a romance between two young adults, with youth romance being a huge category in China, but will also be a great showcase of Wellington as a tourism destination. It already has investment from New Zealand and a cast attached.
The delegation leaves today (Wednesday) for Beijing and Tianjin, then on Friday the Mayor and part of the group will fly to Japan for business and sister-city meetings in Sakai.
On Sunday the group will fly to the South Korean capital, Seoul, for further business meetings. Mayor Whanau will also present, along with mayors from other international cities, at the World Cities Summit. Discussions will also be held regarding a memorandum of understanding over formalising a Sister City relationship between Wellington and Seoul.