Hawke's Bay is booming off the back of an international student spike, with the latest figures revealing they now contribute an annual $60 million into the region's economy.

And international students said they were also benefiting from being able to study in what they perceive to be a "wonderful" part of the world.

Wei He, 41, is in his second year, studying a degree in nursing at EIT.

He decided to leave his successful dentistry career of 16 years in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, China, and move his family to the region for a change of pace and life.


His wife, Weiwei Zhao, is studying a language course at EIT, while their 12-year-old daughter is at Taradale Intermediate.

Prior to deciding on his destination, he researched online and found New Zealand was a "good country with a good education system". Then he saw Hawke's Bay's nature and he was sold.

Despite warnings from others, he has not experienced a "culture shock".

Hawke's Bay is a far cry from his industrial home town. Now he says he can "appreciate and enjoy the wonderful scenery" around him.

"I feel energetic."

He plans to stay in the country and wants to work at a hospital.

The Regional Economic Impact Report showed the region hosted 1283 students from more than 50 countries last year and supported 730 jobs.

The data, for the first time captured the tourism value of the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) of international students, which for the region came in at $10 million for 2017.


The VFR is in addition to the total value - it is officially counted as part of New Zealand's tourism industry.

Learning Hawke's Bay manager Wenhua Yang said it was a strong result given Hawke's Bay had only one public tertiary institution.

"Hawke's Bay offers high quality schools and tertiary providers, a fantastic lifestyle and environment, and good work and career opportunities – especially in viticulture, horticulture, and the tourism and hospitality industries.

"All of these things are attractive to international students."

Yang said EIT in particular "punches above its weight".

Often the decision to move to the region was based on word of mouth, recommendations and cost.

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins said the national economic value of international education is $5.1 billion, making it the country's fourth largest export.