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Marlborough mayor off to China for sister-region agreement

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett leaves for China at the end of the week to sign a formal sister-region agreement with China’s wine-growing region Ningxia. 

As president of the Marlborough District Brass Band, Mr Leggett will also be an official guest at the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Tourism Festival at which the Marlborough band has been invited to perform. In the last 18 months there have been a series of exchange visits between Marlborough and Ningxia, the aim of the relationship building is to open up educational and wine industry opportunities for the two regions. 

The reciprocal visits at regional government level have led to the first Ningxia-based winemaker spending a vintage in Marlborough, the first group of Ningxia students visiting Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ colleges and the first six Ningxia students enrolling on a viticulture and winemaking degree at NMIT. 

The earlier exchanges have also led to Marlborough-based wine technology businesses securing contracts with Chinese customers. Mayor John Leggett says the next step is to formalise the relationship with a region to region agreement.

"We’ve been through the preliminary steps and now we have an understanding of what each region hopes to achieve from this relationship," he said.

"They are in the position that Marlborough was in 30 years ago when grapes were a relatively new crop here but they recognise that Marlborough is now one of the world's leading wine regions and that a great deal of knowledge and expertise resides here," said Mr Leggett.

There is great opportunity to expand the education and training delivered through our secondary schools and tertiary institute, he said.

The Marlborough delegation will include three members of Marlborough’s Sister City Committee, Alistair Sowman, Lily Stuart and Cathie Bell. They will be joined by winemakers Richard O’Donnell and Dave Tyney, who operates as a winemaking consultant in Ningxia for part of the year, and by Ningxia-based education agent Kiki Chenshu. Mayoress Anne Best will join the visit at her own expense. The delegation will be in China from 3 -10 September.

Mr Leggett says he is particularly pleased the sister city business coincided with the Marlborough District Brass Band’s international exposure.

"It’s a great accolade for our brass band to be selected for this event. I sometimes wonder if Marlborough people realise the premiere status of our brass musicians. This event draws about ten million people over the course of a week and the Marlborough brass band members are the only New Zealanders who will be giving a performance so I will be very proud to be there to support them."

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