Sister cities, museums, and culturally diverse communities : a pathway to strengthening inclusive community engagement by local government and museums for Asian New Zealanders : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Museum Studies at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Sister cities are long-term, community-driven international partnerships between local governments. They promote opportunities for meaningful community engagement through cultural exchanges, economic activities, and resource sharing. Communities in Aotearoa New Zealand are increasingly becoming culturally diverse and complex, and populations such as Asian migrants and Asian New Zealanders are rapidly growing. The strategic goals of museums, particularly those linked to local governments, include actively connecting and engaging with their culturally diverse communities. This thesis examines two case studies with established sister city relationships and community focused museums linked with local governments. Sister city activities between Porirua City and Lower Hutt City in New Zealand and counterparts Nishio City and Minoh City in Japan have brought unique opportunities for citizens of these cities. Cultural institutions Pātaka Art + Museum and The Dowse Art Museum have legacies of public programming and exhibitions for the community. By analysing archival documentation, interviews with key participants, and maintaining a critical socio cultural approach through forms of narrative inquiry, this research aims to better understand the potential of sister cities for the community and the heritage sector. In this context, a counter narrative reveals the growth and increasing relevance of responding to the cultural diversity in New Zealand communities including Asian New Zealanders. Within the two case studies, evidence shows that sister cities are existing community-based resources that encourage unique community activities to flourish. Part of the early sister city movement in New Zealand in the 1990s, they were pathways for local governments and museums to utilise for meaningful community engagement through cultural, educational, and economic activities. These were strengthened by collaboration between committed leaders in local government, cultural institutions, and community organisations. Furthermore, people-to-people connections and trust-building were essential for cultural and economic community outcomes to flow. This thesis argues that these outcomes are shared objectives that strengthen community engagement, and sister cities could be effectively utilised by local governments and affiliated community-focused museums to support culturally diverse communities. Currently, however, New Zealand museums and local governments do not fully utilise the potential of sister cities despite their commitment to these communities.