Sister City relationships, originally built on cultural understanding and peace through citizen diplomacy, are evolving in today’s society. Politicians increasingly demand real returns where local government is actively involved. Meaningful sister city links are an asset for any community and its nation. However full utilisation requires skills and commitment talked about but often lacking in delivery. Increased emphasis on economic development as primary motivator for having sister cities provides opportunities, but also presents risks as policy emphasis shifts from relationship-building to pragmatic, shorter term goals. New Zealand’s portfolio of sister cities re ect its place on the Paci c Rim and its political/ economic positioning as “part of Asia”. An upsurge in interest from and in China as the place to do business has coincided with a levelling off of sister city activities when they should be increasing. The reasons are varied, but demonstrate the challenges New Zealand faces in continuing as a front-runner in the sister city movement. Sister city policies require honest assessment. Limited resources demand better investment where opportunities are identi ed or disassociation where they are not. Success requires robust policy development, professionalism and an effective public relations campaign informing communities concerned of the possibilities their international links can present.