A new free orientation programme to welcome international students has been heralded a success.

Education Tauranga Regional manager Anne Young says it is actively involved in Welcoming Communities, the pilot programme established by Immigration New Zealand which helps newcomers to feel included and supported while they are in the region.

"As part of this programme, we know that if we proactively foster an environment where newcomers feel welcomed, they are more likely to enjoy better social connections and engagement, and with this comes positive social, economic and cultural benefits for our community.

"With this in mind, Education Tauranga has taken responsibility for running a new orientation programme for the new 2018 cohort of international students in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty."

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Last week 150 new families and students took part in the orientation, with another event in the pipeline for later this year.

"It's available to all students regardless of the school they are studying at.

"It enables students and families to make those important connections with others that may not be made if they are just working directly with the school they are enrolled at."

"So it's been really neat, and it was also an opportunity for me and my staff to introduce ourselves and let them know there is someone to contact if they need to."

Activities the families and students took part in included a visit to the Summerhill's look-out, a trip to Comvita, fish and chips on the beach at Maketu, a heritage tour around Mauao and swimming at Mount Hot Pools.