Ash Peters, founder of Texas BBQ Foods, has mounted a campaign for his hometown of New Plymouth to become Austin’s official New Zealand sister city.
New Plymouth currently has two sister cities, Mishima in Japan and Kunming in China. Austin would be the city’s first American sister city.
The launch of the sister city campaign has been inspired by the results of a recent survey, which revealed that people from New Plymouth share a surprising number of similarities with those from Austin, Texas. More than 700 people responded with the results showing that:
- More than 97 percent of New Plymouth residents love barbecued food.
- Thirty-one percent of them eat BBQ food a couple of times per month, 28 percent eat it once per week and 26 percent eat it a couple of times per week.
- More than half (59%) think that New Plymouth has the best barbecue skills in New Zealand.
- They think that New Plymouth is best known for its music (60%), art (53%), food (52%), outdoors lifestyle (44%) and the waterfront (25%).
New Plymouth Mayor, Neil Holdom said the idea of a United States sister city was intriguing and he would be happy to extend an invitation to Austin Mayor Stephen Alder to visit New Plymouth for the next Americarna Festival and perhaps compare notes on the best way to barbecue various cuts of New Zealand beef, lamb and pork.
“Good relationships are often built slaving over a hot barbecue in summer and our cities do have a lot in common,” he said.
“Ash Peters is a fantastic diplomat for Taranaki and his suggestion that New Plymouth and Austin should be sister cities does seem to have some merit. The opportunities for trade are exciting and the idea of exporting Taranaki beef, pork, butter, cheese and potentially a few of our fine ales to Texas with its population of more than 28 million people does sound like something that would support our long-term economic growth.”
“If we get enough interest from the people of New Plymouth and the people of Austin, Texas we’ll take a look at it,” Holdom said.
“I have travelled extensively between New Zealand and Texas. While I spent the majority of my time in places like Houston, I always noticed that there were more than a few similarities between New Plymouth and Austin,” explained Ash. “The survey results show that it’s not just me that thinks so! Both cities are extremely proud of their barbecue skills, as well as loving their arts, the outdoors and being right next to the water.
“Among other shared interests, New Plymouth and Austin are also both passionate about their festivals. New Plymouth has the iconic three-day WOMAD festival, while Austin’s official motto is ‘Live Music Capital of the World.’ No other New Zealand city is paired with Austin – I think it would be the perfect match for New Plymouth and would be a fantastic relationship to have. I’m sure we would be able to learn a lot from each other, particularly in terms of tourism and making the most of a thriving artistic, events, food and outdoors scene.”
New Zealanders can show their support for the sister city campaign by signing the online petition at change.org or by posting on the Texas BBQ Foods Facebook page. The petition results will be used to present the case to Sister Cities New Zealand, an organisation that helps establish sister city relationships, and to Neil Holdom.
Ash established Texas BBQ Foods with co-founder, Jerynn Peters, to bring the most authentic Texas-inspired smoked beef brisket, pork belly, cheeses and butter to New Zealand food lovers. The products can now be found in the chilled section at supermarkets nationwide.
Meat cuts are hand seasoned with a traditional Texas-style dry rub. They are then slow smoked and cooked with mesquite (a wood imported from North America) for 20+ hours to create a full, genuine flavour. Even the cheese and butter from Texas BBQ Foods is smoked for three hours to get a true smoke flavour with a sweet finish.