Ningxia - China


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Ningxia - China

The Marlborough-Ningxia sister region relationship was signed in 2017 and is based on a mutual economic partnership, through wine consultancy, wine technology and education.

Ningxia is the third largest wine region in China and one of the largest in the world. With opposite seasons, the Marlborough and Ningxia wine industries are well placed to facilitate the exchange of wine technology and expertise.

New Zealand’s China relationship is important, with two-way trade rising from $8.2 billion in 2007 to $23 billion in 2016. A recent report from NZIER confirmed the great importance of regular face-to-face contact and communication by mayors and business leaders with their Chinese counterparts to maintain trust and develop the connections that allow economic opportunities to develop.

Wine consultancy

Council's relationship with Ningxia began in 2013 when Marlborough winemaker Dave Tyney won a winemakers’ competition organised by the Ningxia Wine Federation. Since then, Marlborough winemakers have been travelling to Ningxia each year to assist with the vintage; in 2018, nine Marlborough winemakers worked in Ningxia wineries.

Dave Tyney’s company, Viscosity, won a winery management contract with the Ningxia Wine Federation. The company has also grown its wine consultancy and wine sales business in China due to this relationship.

The combined revenue earned by Marlborough winemakers from these activities so far is estimated to be NZ$400,000 - NZ$500,000.

Ningxia winery opening with Mayor John Leggett

Wine technology

Marlborough company VinWizard has installed equipment in two Chinese wineries – one of which, Xige Winery in Ningxia, is considered one of the most high-tech wineries in China

VinWizard CEO Bob Richards said: “To be selected for an installation as prestigious as the Xige winery would have been nearly impossible without the strong input from New Zealand winemaker David Tyney and the exposure provided by visits associated with the Marlborough sister region agreement.”

The official opening of the Xige Winery in 2017 included the unveiling by Marlborough Mayor John Leggett of a plaque commemorating the collaboration (close-up pictured below).

The revenue earned so far by Marlborough companies from wine technology sales in China is estimated to be NZ$400,000.

Marlborough and New Zealand wine technology is amongst the best in the world. Marlborough District Council is now working with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Coalitions programme to develop a Marlborough Wine Technology Export Coalition, which will create a more coordinated New Zealand wine technology effort.

Ningxia winery opening plaque


Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology has built a strong relationship with Ningxia University and successfully attracted students to study viticulture and winemaking in Marlborough. Five students are completing a degree, spending two years in Marlborough.

Other student groups have visited Marlborough for study tours of up to five weeks.

The combined value of the five degree students is estimated to be NZ$300,000 over two years.

There is also the potential for these graduates to work for Marlborough wine businesses with labour shortages.
Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges have hosted small groups of students from Ningxia for short-term visits since 2016.

Return on investment

  • Gross revenue earned by Marlborough from Ningxia: $1,100,000 - $1,200,000
  • Spend on Mayoral sister region visits: $37,000
  • Return on investment is approx. 30 to 1.


The success of the Marlborough-Ningxia relationship has been recognised by awards in New Zealand and China.

  • 2018 Friendship City for Exchanges and Co-Operation with China at the CIFCC Awards in Wuhan, China
  • Best Project (Corporate or Commercial Focused) at the 2021 Sister Cities New Zealand conference in Wellington, NZ