International students to Northland have been given a memorable introduction to Māori culture with a welcome at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
About 90 international students who had recently arrived in Northland were given the formal welcome at the Treaty Grounds on Friday, an experience they will long remember.
The inaugural regional welcome was led by Study Northland, the international education arm of Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency. Study Northland was established last year to strengthen and support international education in the region.
The Waitangi event provided a traditional Māori welcome to 90 students, aged 8 to 25, from countries including South Korea, Germany, Japan, Austria, Thailand, France, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Taiwan, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil and Chile.
Study Northland Project Manager Jo Lees said the regional welcome at Waitangi was a great opportunity to extend manaakitanga to the newly arrived students.
"These students have shown real courage by travelling so far from home to live and study in Northland, and we wanted to acknowledge their commitment to learning by extending them a heartfelt welcome to Northland from day one," Lees said.
Students were greeted with a private pōwhiri and performance, followed by a speech from Joy Hotter, development manager at Education New Zealand, and a presentation of welcome certificates. Students enjoyed a tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where they were taught waka drills, pūkana, Poi Rākau and a waiata by Waitangi educators.
Lees said Māori culture, friendly people and incredible scenery were among the many reasons students gave for choosing Northland as a place to live and study.
"This event nurtures global citizenship, creates lifelong memories and kick-starts each student's Northland experience. I was so impressed with the Waitangi Education team and the way they customised the experience to suit the ages and English language ability of our students. We really hope this event will be the first of many."
Students who attended the welcome are studying at: Whangārei Girls' High School, Whangarei Boys' High School, Tauraroa Area School, Kamo High School, Springbank School, Pompallier Catholic College, Whangarei Primary School, Huanui College and NorthTec.