Three Rotorua students are flying off to Asia thanks to scholarships awarded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Maria Gardner, Te Maiora Rurehe and Ruiteng Liu are among the 173 young New Zealanders awarded the prestigious Prime Minister's Scholarships for Asia as part of the August 2018/19 round.
The recipients will continue their tertiary studies abroad, giving them the opportunity to establish relationships that strengthen ties between Asia and New Zealand.
"Ongoing academic relationships and new business opportunities are two things we are seeing result from the programme," Ardern said.
Gardner, born and raised in Rotorua, is continuing her studies on a two-semester exchange at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Gardner recently completed her first year in Otago studying philosophy, politics and economics, which she describes as analysing what makes societies "tick".
"That is why I want to go to China, to see how they work. I think it will be a really good perspective to add to my degree."
Minoring in Chinese influenced her decision to go to Tsinghua University but never having been to China, Gardner said she felt nervous and excited.
"I have heard that it is a completely different world. That everything is so fast paced and I suppose living somewhere with a complete cultural difference and a huge language barrier will be an exciting experience."
Rurehe, a second-year law student, will be jetting off to Vietnam next month.
Born in Minginui and raised in Rotorua, the Māori Law Students' Association co-president said he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to intern in Ho Chi Minh City.
"It's not very often that people get the chance to intern during their second year and to be doing that in Vietnam is just brilliant," Rurehe said.
Liu is going to study at the National University of Singapore for the second semester of 2019, focusing on Chinese law.
The fourth-year Victoria University student said the opportunity was a "dream come true".
"I will be exposed to new ideas which will challenge the New Zealand legal education I have received so far.
"In my view, understanding how the law affects our key Asian trading partners and its implications for New Zealand businesses is the way of the future," Liu said.
Applications for the next round of Prime Minister's Scholarships for Asia opens mid-January and must be submitted online by March 30.
The Prime Minister's Scholarships for Asia programme is funded by the New Zealand Government and administered by Education New Zealand.
To date there have been 1855 Prime Minister's Scholarships for Asia awardees in the five years since its launch.
The scholarship covers study and travel costs and includes a weekly allowance.