Key Points:

New international students were given a warm New Zealand welcome yesterday with a powhiri performed by the Mt Albert Grammar School kapa haka group.

"Aside from the excellent financial benefits this brings, it's great having these students from around the world living here and adding to our diverse communities," said Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne.

Speaking at the ceremony, he told the 1600 students that the welcome extended was not only for the period of their studies but also beyond and suggested they invite their parents and friends to visit them in New Zealand.

The students were also given a taste of New Zealand, taking away goodie bags with local products such as L&P drinks and Crunchie chocolate bars.

South Korean student Ken Park, 18, said he didn't know Maori existed before coming here and found the powhiri to be a "very powerful welcome".

Whitireia Polytechnic student Amandeep Singh, 22, from India, said his parents chose New Zealand because it was his father's dream country.

"I am now really living my father's dream but I am also the excuse they used to visit New Zealand last Christmas," he said.

Brazilian Francyny Lima Alves, who came last month, said her time in New Zealand so far has been "like living in a dream".

"I've been bungy jumping, Zorbing, jet boating and travelled to Queenstown - it's just incredible," said the 21-year-old language student at Eurocentres Language School.

"I've already spent more than $8000 in less than two months and my only wish is that I had more time and money."

A report commissioned by the Auckland City Council indicates that around 50,000 international students contribute $1 billion annually to the Auckland economy.