Southland District Council has an International Relations Policy which aims to bring the world to Southland and Southland to the world. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including cultural, educational, knowledge-sharing and economic ties. Council has two formal international relationships; Cinque Terre, Italy and Wyong Shire, Australia. An International Relations Committee also looks to further our relationships and understanding through such things as raising public awareness.
A formal agreement has been in place between the Southland District and Cinque Terre since 2009. That agreement was based on tourism and economic development similarities between the two areas.
Cinque Terre is a popular tourist destination in the Liguria region of Italy. The coastline, five villages and surrounding hillside are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of equal importance to the Southland region UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fiordland.
Cinque Terre is noted for its beauty and man-made terraces built on the rugged steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages of Cinque Terre as cars cannot reach it from the outside.
A friendship agreement exists between Southland District and Wyong Shire, New South Wales. Local government connections and knowledge sharing opportunities were behind this agreement.
Wyong Shire is located on the northern fringe of Sydney and close to the industrial powerhouse of Newcastle. It has a resident population of around 150,000. Olney State forest makes up a lot of the area. The area has a coastline of rare beauty, shimmering waterways, deep rural valleys and an unspoilt mountain backdrop. It is one of the best known holiday locations on Australia's east coast.
The International Relations Committee focuses on building relations and multiculturalism in Southland.
International and multicultural dialogue is beneficial for the Southland District. Southland can seem isolated from the rest of the world due to its geographic location. Providing opportunities for Southlanders to experience the world and for other cultures to share their knowledge in the District is one way to help Southland to maintain a position in the globalised world. Activities of the committee include an annual international youth forum, coordinating Council’s international relationships and offering scholarships. The committee is also Council’s representative body to Sister Cities New Zealand (external link)