The international Race Relations Day saw more than 200 students from abroad welcomed at a special ceremony in Napier on Wednesday.

The function at the MTG Century Theatre was jointly hosted by the Napier City Council, Hastings District Council Learning Hawke's Bay.

There were a range of cultural performances including an Indian, Hawaiian and Thai dance as well as a Haka by international students from Lindisfarne.

Learning Hawke's Bay Regional Manager, Wenhua Yang said according to the economic impact research commissioned by Education New Zealand, each student in Hawke's Bay contributes more than $27,000 a year on average to the local economy and they generate in total about $20 million in economic benefits to the region, supporting more than 200 jobs.

Advertisement

Based on the 2016 enrolment data, around 1500 international students from overseas have chosen to study at the Eastern Institute of Technology, schools and private tertiary establishments in Hawke's Bay. These students largely come from China, India, other Asian nations, Europe and South America.

"There is potential to grow this sector even further," Wenhua Yang, Regional Manager, Learning Hawke's Bay said.

She believes Hawke's Bay provides not only high quality education, but also a world-renowned pristine environment, beautiful landscape, exciting outdoor activities including mountain hiking, surfing, sailing, golf, and equestrian, and abundant fresh GM-free local produce.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said international education in Hawke's Bay not only allows young people to immerse themselves in our local culture, but also provides our community with opportunities to experience different cultures and develop international connections.

"International students with positive experiences in Hawke's Bay will become lifelong ambassadors for the region and for New Zealand. We welcome more and more international students to come to Hawke's Bay to enjoy our world-class education and beautiful natural environment."

Similarly, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said both councils will continue to work with Learning Hawke's Bay to ensure that international students have a positive experience here.

"It is absolutely heartwarming to see all these lovely young kids who are really enjoying themselves and they are from such a variety of countries but they all seem to be really good friends.

"These people take the message back to their own communities and their own countries about what a fantastic place Hawke's Bay is and so often it results in tourism ventures where people come to visit Hawke's Bay, but also in the long-term it is going to result in business."

Miao Miao Tian, originally from China has recently completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management at EIT and plans to stay in the region.

"At the beginning I didn't know what Hawke's Bay looked like. I just thought that it was far away from Auckland and the big cities and I wanted to have a wonderful learning atmosphere, so I chose the main campus of EIT."

The 26-year-old has been staying with a home-stay family and hopes to travel around the country, after landing a job.

Having previously completed a double degree in accounting and music at Beihua University, China and her latest diploma took one-and-a-half years.

Multicultural Association Hawke's Bay president Rizwaana Latiff said having the students in the region meant they would become ambassadors for Hawke's Bay later on.

"It exposes us in Hastings to different cultures and exposes them to different cultures because Hawke's Bay is a diverse place."

"It is good that all the agencies are getting together to welcome the students as it shows the students that they are welcome and I look forward to having them here," Ms Latiff said.