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Yubetsu gifts on display at Darfield Library

Wednesday, November 8, 2023   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: exhibition, arts

Selwyn District Council media release: 7th November 2023

The Darfield Library is now hosting a unique collection of cultural gifts from Yubetsu, the longstanding Japanese Sister City of the Malvern Community Board. This partnership, established in July 2000, revolves around the simple yet powerful ideals of friendship and cross-cultural connections.

For over two decades, the towns of Malvern and Yubetsu have nurtured their Sister City bond through biannual visits and cultural exchanges until COVID-19 disruption. The heart of this connection lies in the annual student exchange programme, where students from Darfield High School and Yubetsu Junior High School spend three months immersed in each other's communities. The reciprocal visits every two years further strengthen cultural understanding, with Japanese students exploring Kiwi culture and local customs. This enriching experience has proven to be life-changing for many Darfield students.

Yubetsu is nestled in Monbetsu District of Okhotsk Subprefecture - on the northern shores of Hokkaido. It shares striking similarities with the Malvern region, as both areas boast modest populations, experience seasonal extremes, and thrive on agriculture.

Many of the gifts have a unique story such as a kimono donated by Mr Masakazu Hirota - a former Yubetsu town councillor. This bridal kimono was a gift in 2000 during the signing of the friendship agreement, and symbolises the cultural exchange between Yubetsu and Selwyn, alongside the planting of two kōwhai trees.

Selwyn Sister Cities Committee Chairperson Allison Rosanowski said “the display features many wonderful items gifted to the Malvern Community by our friends in Yubetsu. They add a touch of Japanese culture to Darfield but also stand as a testament to the enduring bonds between Yubetsu and Selwyn”.

The Yubetsu gifts are on display until April 2024.