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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti

Portsmouth, a large, (nuclear) naval base in Virginia was put forward as a potential sister city. It was similar to Dunedin in that it was a coastal city of a similar size.

In July 1961, Dunedin was approached by the Tourist and Publicity department of the Department of External Affairs to take part in the People-to-People programme originated by the American Municipal Association. The Council subsequently requested a pairing with a university city of a similar size to Dunedin.

Portsmouth, a large, (nuclear) naval base in Virginia was put forward as a potential sister city. It was similar to Dunedin in that it was a coastal city of a similar size. However, there was a more logical reason behind this proposal. At that time, a United States Navy ship was stationed south of New Zealand as part of the 'Operation Deep Freeze' programme, functioning as a communication link with US planes travelling to McMurdo Sound (Antarctica). Dunedin was used by this ship as its home port between assignments, and it was felt that this link could be enhanced by establishing a formal link between the cities.

Relationship established

This duly occurred on 23 October 1962, with Portsmouth City Council passing a resolution inviting Dunedin to affiliate with it under the sister city programme, and Dunedin City Council accepting the invitation by resolution on 19 November 1962.

The relationship initially flourished, perhaps because of its 'uniqueness' and novelty.

Over the next few years a number of special sister city activities occurred, including the first visit to Portsmouth by a Dunedin resident (privately funded), the exchange of various civic gifts and the naming of new areas of each city in honour of the other including Portsmouth Drive in Dunedin, and the suburb of Dunedin in Portsmouth.

The special events and activities between the cities were sparse however. A delegation led by Mayor Holley participated in the 150th Anniversary Celebrations during 1998. Since that time there has been very little activity and the relationship with Portsmouth is now dormant.

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