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Student Voice

9 April 2019

A Warm Welcome to New International Students in Tauranga

A Warm Welcome to New International Students in Tauranga

Each year Tauranga hosts thousands of international students at our local schools, many staying at Kiwi families’ homes. From month-long stays to entire schooling, our international students are an important and valued part of our community. While our schools and host families always welcome students warmly, Education Tauranga has recently introduced a Welcome Tour for our primary school families and, for the first year, included all 770 new international students in a welcome from the Mayor. Education Tauranga’s writer Rachel Hart – herself an immigrant to New Zealand – came along to discover the magic involved in our warm welcome.

The Welcome Tour

For the second year running, Education Tauranga put on a Welcome Tour open to primary school students and their families. Split over two days to keep the group sizes small and intimate, the families met at Kulim Park, a family-friendly spot with an excellent playground and gorgeous views of Mount Maunganui.

On the day that I joined the tour, the families then hopped on a bus for the 20-minute drive to Papamoa’s Community Centre. Once there, a 20-strong contingent of nine and ten-year olds from Te Akau Ki Papamoa School were waiting to greet them with a traditional Maori welcome ceremony called a powhiri.

I was blown away by the youngsters’ passion, confidence and volume – close your eyes and you’d swear it was a group of adults performing. It was clear that the international families were equally impressed, all smiling, many snapping photos to share this moment with family and spouses back home.

After the powhiri, complete with Maori and English songs, speeches, and dances, everyone had a chance to mingle over morning tea before the Kiwi students took an international buddy under their wing for a lesson in harakeke, the traditional art of flax weaving.

The afternoon saw the visiting families return to Kulim Park, where they ate fish ‘n chips – a New Zealand favourite – before searching the harbour for local sea-life like molluscs, crabs and shells. Led by Doug Farr from award-winning educational tour company Kuaka, the families planted flax seedlings and talked about ocean sustainability, getting a great introduction to Kiwi culture.

Undoubtedly, sending your primary school student overseas for school is a daunting task. With children as young as five, these brave parents might be wondering if their child is too young for such an experience. This warm welcome and thorough introduction put on by Education Tauranga left me thinking there was indeed no better time for students to experience such an exceptional opportunity for cultural exchange.

The Mayoral Welcome

Demonstrating how valued our international students are, early into the school year, Tauranga’s Mayor Greg Brownless welcomed an auditorium full of students, families and teachers to the city.

Dressed in piupiu and sporting pukanas that could be seen from the back row, a group of Tauranga Intermediate School students opened the event with a fierce kapa haka performance.

The Mayor then took to the podium, sharing his own personal connection with the international community through his Taiwanese wife and her children. The Mayor spoke of the value of international students, who range from five to 18 years old and represent 32 countries.

The local welcome was followed by a beautiful Indian dance, an elegant Chinese folk dance, an impressive janggu – a Korean drum performance – and a talk from Immigration New Zealand on pathways to employment.

The morning was infused with culture, demonstrating that Tauranga is a mosaic, inclusive to people from all nations, religions and walks of life.

Welcoming Students at Home, at School

With Education Tauranga’s support, every school in the Bay of Plenty hosting international students lives up to high industry standards of education and pastoral care. International directors and homestay managers create a strong team, ensuring students are well-looked after and happy while they learn about Kiwi life, culture, language and food.

The schools deliver orientation programmes and school camps, English language tuition and academic support. Host families welcome students into their homes, immersing them in New Zealand culture and making sure they are well cared for. All the host parents I met make the most of weekends, eagerly showing off local treasures like the Mount, and take the students on family holidays further afield.

Welcoming Communities - Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori

A new nationwide initiative to welcome migrants to New Zealand, Tauranga City Council is one of four cities participating in the Welcoming Communities pilot programme. The goal is to increase awareness of the benefits of cultural diversity in the Bay of Plenty, making our community even more welcoming to newcomers.



Join us on Facebook and contact Regional Relationship Manager Melissa Gillingham for more information:

Melissa Gillingham

 Regional Relationship Manager

 Education Tauranga

 Tel: +64 7 571 1401 ext. 707 | Mob: +64 21 724 272    
 Address: Private Bag 13057, Tauranga 3141, New Zealand  
 Email me