Dunedin has a long and rich relationship with Edinburgh, from the naming of the city with the Gaelic form of Edinburgh to today’s lively St Andrew’s Day celebrations.
The link was re-established in 2004 when the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society was formed to promote Dunedin's Scottish heritage and connect the Dunedin City Council with the variousScottish societies in the city. The Society has built strong links between Dunedin and Edinburgh and encourages celebrations such as St Andrew's Day.
Our radio show - Kilts and Kiwis
The Society hosts a radio show on Otago Access Radio from June to December - Kilts and Kiwis. You can catch the show at 10am fortnightly on Fridays at 1575 AM and 105.4 FM. Podcasts are available after the show.
St Andrew's Day
Not to be outdone by our Irish neighbours, the Society acknowledges St Andrew's Day with a celebration of Scottish culture, food, drink, music and dance held in the Octagon on the Sunday closest to 30 November.
This free public event features traditional and contemporary activities for all ages to enjoy, live entertainment, have-a-go activities, food and drink, displays, stalls and guided tours. Tartan wear of any type encouraged!
Arts and culture
The Edinburgh Stone was sculpted from Aberdeenshire granite rock by artist Sylvia Stewart in 2007 and gifted to the city to celebrate the sister city relationship. It was placed near the Forsyth Barr Stadium in November 2011.
A twin piece named Ōwheo sits on the Edinburgh waterfront. This piece was made from a basalt volcanic magma rock lifted from the Water of Leith in 1999. Ms Stewart worked with Kāi Tahu to select the Dunedin rock and it was blessed before being removed from the stream.
In 2016 the Society was pivotal in the relocation of the Edinburgh Stone upriver to a spot near the Water of the Leith on the University of Otago campus. The new site makes a fitting connection back to the Water of Leith that our sister cities share.
City of Literature
The Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society supports the annual Robert Burns Poetry Competition, a collaboration between Dunedin Public Libraries and the Dunedin Burns Club.
The connection with Edinburgh was strengthened when Dunedin became New Zealand's first UNESCO Creative City with City of Literature status in 2014. Edinburgh was the world's first City of Literature.
City of literature website (link to external website, new window)
The Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society meets monthly. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but all share a passion for our Scottish heritage and an enthusiasm for promoting and celebrating this heritage with the wider community.
If you have any questions about the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society or would like to get involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first move to create an official link between the cities was in February 1973, when the Scottish Export Committee of Dunedin’s Scottish Council recommended a formal ‘twinning’ relationship with Edinburgh. Their letter to the DCC suggested it was appropriate for a "city of pipe bands and many other manifestations of Scottish heritage" to have a relationship with the Scottish capital and also pointed to commercial and industrial opportunities.
The DCC resolved to support the link with Edinburgh and sent an invitation to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. A formal resolution confirming the establishment of an official sister city relationship was exchanged on 1 July 1974, and a copy presented to the Lord Provost in Edinburgh by Cr M Joel on 25 July 1974.
There were few official activities between the cities during the early years of the relationship. In 2004, former Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner co-ordinated the establishment of the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society to revitalise Dunedin's relationship with Edinburgh. Between 2003 and 2005, a number of cultural exchanges between the cities were associated with the Fringe and Edinburgh Festival.
2014 - present
The annual St Andrew’s Day celebrations have been a focus for the group over recent years.
The event has a renewed vigour and a wider range of traditional and contemporary activities for all ages to enjoy. The day includes a varied programme of live musical performance, food and drink with a Scottish flavour, a dramatic Address to the Haggis, tours of the Edinburgh Room in the Council chambers, and Highland Games activities. All this is held in the Octagon under the watchful gaze of Robbie Burns.
Sister Cities NZ awarded the Society best cultural, sport or recreation project for the 2016 St Andrew’s Day event.
A reinvigorated Scotland to Dunedin project (Sister Cities – Tartan Ties) was launched in 2013 with a visit from Scottish musicians Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson to participate in Dunedin’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations. A civic reception was held that evening, with Dunedin’s Mayor Dave Cull and Lord Provost of Edinburgh Donald Wilson exchanging greetings of the day via the University of Otago’s world class fibre-optic facilities.
There have been a number of developments since, including a Mayoral delegation visit from Dunedin as part of the MOMENTUM programme in Edinburgh, performances by young Dunedin musician Jake Cropley, headed by Simon Vare, at Edinburgh’s New Reekie Burns event and Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival in January 2014, and a mentoring relationship for the successful Dunedin bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.
Through a related Sister Cities Tartan Ties project initiated locally along with the British Council, two further exchanges of musicians have taken place between our cities. November 2016 to Dunedin and January 2017 to Edinburgh & Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow. We are hoping to further establish this reciprocal exchange of artists, musicians, food & beverage to promote, demonstrate and celebrate the cross-cultural relations between Dunedin and Edinburgh both here in New Zealand and Scotland.
July - August 2014
Dunedin Public Art Gallery Public Programmes Manager Robyn Notman was one of seven New Zealanders who travelled to Scotland as part of the MOMENTUM, Edinburgh Festivals international delegate programme, run by the British Council and Creative New Zealand to send New Zealanders from across the cultural professions and practices to the UK and particularly Scotland to develop opportunities and relationships that lead to reciprocal projects.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery Curator Aaron Kreisler was one of five Commonwealth curators selected to contribute to the major group Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition, “Where do I end and you begin?”. The exhibition ran from 1 August to 19 October 2014 in the City Art Centre in the heart of Edinburgh. Aaron travelled in late July to oversee the installation of the works. The project sprang from a partnership between the Edinburgh Art Festival, the British Council, Creative Scotland and Creative New Zealand and was the first exhibition developed by the Edinburgh Art Festival.
A delegation of Dunedin’s Mayor Dave Cull, Dunedin City Councillor Neville Peat and DCC Community Advisor – Arts Cara Paterson visited during Edinburgh’s festival month.
The Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, the Rt. Hon. Donald Wilson, invited the delegation in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship. Mr Cull also received an invitation from MOMENTUM, which arranged much of the delegation’s Edinburgh itinerary, including a series of events and meetings with Edinburgh’s arts community.
The delegation attended a VIP Edinburgh Tattoo function, the Tattoo itself and talked with the City of Edinburgh about future sister city activities, with a focus on stimulating arts links and activity between the two cities.
DCC Community Advisor – Arts Cara Paterson was selected by the British Council and Creative New Zealand to be part of the MOMENTUM international delegate programme.
The programme helps build relationships with cultural organisations and individuals in Edinburgh.
Cara met with many influential members of Edinburgh’s arts community, including the directors of the city’s UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Scottish Centre for the Book, the International Book Festival and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her visit began relationships that lead on to exchanges of professional and cultural skills between Edinburgh and Dunedin.
In 2006, an official delegation, including Mayor Peter Chin, DCC Chief Executive, Jim Harland, and members of the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society travelled to Edinburgh to attend the opening weekend of the 2006 Edinburgh Festival.
During the round of official functions and meetings, links were fostered between the two cities. Society representatives included the Chair, Pamela Jemmett, Secretary, Neville Jemmett and committee members, Margaret Campbell and Les Cantwell.
The delegation visited the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to view the Sylvia Stewart sculpture which was duly gifted to Dunedin. The sculpture, which matches one on the Edinburgh waterfront, arrived in Dunedin in July 2007 and was placed near Forsyth Barr stadium. The stone was subsequently relocated in 2016 to a site close to the Water of Leith in the University of Otago campus.
Since then, the Society has developed further connections between our two cities through an exchange programme, and has encouraged youth involvement, particularly through internet and email exchanges between primary school children.
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