Partnerships & Sister Cities

Twinning with Zonnebeke, Belgium

A twinning relationship exists between the Waimakariri District Council and the Municipality of Zonnebeke in the Belgian Province of West Flanders.

Passchendaele logo
Waimakariri Passchendaele Advisory Group

The aim of the group is to provide strategic oversight and advice on the District’s international relations and cultural links with the Municipality of Zonnebeke, Belgium, and support the District’s ongoing commemoration and remembrance of the Battle of Passchendaele and World War I.

Mayor David Ayers with Enshi Delegation
Sister City Relationship with Enshi

In April 2016 our Sister City relationship with Enshi was formalised. The Agreement was a first for Waimakariri, and reflects Council’s willingness to promote external relationships and exchanges.

The Battle of Passchendaele was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, particularly the Battle of Ypres. During 100 days of 1917 there were 500,000 casualties. A large number of New Zealanders fought and lost their lives, especially on 12 October 1917 where 846 young New Zealanders were killed in the first four hours of the battle.

D Company from Rangiora and C Company from Kaiapoi were part of the Canterbury Regiment that fought in the area.  From preliminary research at least seven men from the district lost their lives there and, no doubt, there were others from the district who were also injured or lost their lives. The impact of the World Wars on this region of Belgium was very significant and remembering those events are of great importance to the people in this area. The area has the largest military cemetery in the Commonwealth with 12,000 war graves.

Following an invitation from the Burgemeester (Mayor) of Zonnebeke-Passchendaele in 2007, a twinning relationship was established between the two councils. The relationship is not as formal as a sister city relationship, which are developed under the Sister Cities International umbrella.

The formal signing of the twinning relationship was made on 5 October 2007 when the Mayor (Jim Gerard QSO) and Deputy Mayor (Jo Kane) visited Zonnebeke.

In April 2009 a delegation from Zonnebeke led by Mayor Dirk Cardoen, was hosted by the Council, the visit culminating with attendance at the Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Christchurch ANZAC Day services.

A visit was also made in 2009 by the Chair and Curator of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 (Belgium) to coincide with the travelling exhibition around New Zealand – 'Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten'.

Formerly known as the Waimakariri Passchendaele Trust, the Council approved the establishment of the Waimakariri Passchendaele Advisory Group in December 2018.

Current members of the Advisory Group are:

  • Chair - Deputy Mayor of Waimakariri District Council, Neville Atkinson
  • Mayor of Waimakariri District Council, Dan Gordon
  • Honorary Belgian Consul of Christchurch – Lieve Bierque
  • Rangiora RSA representative – Ian Thompson
  • Kaiapoi RSA representative – Neill Price
  • Dave Adamson (community representative)

The Advisory Group membership can include up to four community representatives (appointed by the Council on the nomination of the Advisory Group).

Meetings of the Advisory Group are held as required and members of the public are welcome to contact the Advisory Group through the Council office by contacting the Governance Advisor on 0800 965 468

Go to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 website.

The success of Council first visit to Enshi was relected in the fact that Enshi officials were certain that they wanted to sign a Sister City relationship agreement (rather than a Memorandum of Friendship and Co-operation) and wanted to extend the agreement to include all of the autonomous prefecture (two cities and six countries) with a population of 4 million rather than just with the Enshi City District that has a population of 780,000.

The Agreement does not commit the Council to anything other than extending its willingness to co-operate and promote the relationship and exchanges between the two districts.

The main benefit from the Enshi relationship is expected to be cultural, promoting an increased understanding of Chinese culture that will be strengthened further through school connections. Business connections have also been made and those leads will be explored further.

Given the huge growth in Chinese tourists to New Zealand in recent years, with direct flights available from China to Christchurch, the relationship provides opportunities to enhance our understanding of Chinese culture so that we can better cater for their needs.

It is likely that the Council will need to host delegations from Enshi, as well as periodically visit Enshi in a reciprocal manner.

Enshi Prefecture

Enshi Prefecture is located in the mountainous belt separating Hubei's Jianghan Plain from the Sichuan Basin.

There are karst phenomena in the region. The most famous of them is the Tenglong Cave near Lichuan. A 290 metre deep karst sinkhole, located near the village of Luoquanyan in Zuanen County, is described as possessing its own unique ecosystem.

Enshi is a county-level city in and the seat of Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, in western Hubei province, People's Republic of China.

The so called Enshi Grand Canyon is also a well-known scenic area.

The entire county-level city of Enshi has an area of 3,967 square kilometres and a population of 780,000.

Last reviewed date: 01 Sep 2023