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THE Mayor of Christchurch met her New Zealand counterpart in a special visit, celebrating the town’s twinning links.

The Honourable Ms Lianne Dalziel, the Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand, paid a visit to twin town Christchurch, Dorset, on a trip arranged by Christchurch Twinning Association on Friday.

The last visit from a Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand, to Dorset was 50 years ago.

The connection between the two places, which have been twinned for almost 40 years, goes back to 1911.

During the First World War, New Zealand troops were hospitalised in Brockenhurst, and the connection with the area has been maintained ever since.

The Mayor met Cllr Denise Jones, her UK counterpart, along with councillors and officers from the borough council, at a reception held at the Civic Offices.

She was then taken for a visit to Highcliffe Castle and, in the evening, was a guest at a dinner held at the Captain’s Club.

There, the Mayors signed an Affirmation of Friendship between the two places.

Cllr Dalziel said: “I have had a wonderful trip.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity to visit our sister city, and I have received a wonderful welcome from the Twinning Association.

“The city and town are connected in many things, although Christchurch, Dorset, is a lot older than Christchurch, New Zealand.”

Ms Dalziel was elected Mayor in October 2013.

She had been an MP for 23 years, prior to standing down to contest the mayoral election in Christchurch. As an MP she served as Minister for Immigration, Commerce, Food Safety and Associate Minister for Justice.

She added: “There’s also a connection as we have two rivers, one of which is the Avon.

“I’ve learnt so much about the history of your Christchurch in the brief time I’ve been here as your Mayor is so knowledgeable of the history here. I’m so glad I was able to come.”

On Saturday, she was due to go on a walking tour of Christchurch, visiting the Priory and Saxon Square as well as venturing to Brockenhurst.