Students from Chitoku School walked onto the Whanganui City College grounds to a warm and welcoming pōwhiri yesterday morning.
When the students from Japan sat down in the seats provided for them near the wharenui, Te Manawa, they were formally welcomed in te reo by student Connor Pauro.
Following a waiata sung by Pauro, Chitoku student Shunto Sugiyama responded in English saying the 21 students and two teachers were very happy to be in New Zealand.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall then welcomed the contingent and there was more singing to close out the ceremony.
Deputy principal of Whanganui City College Val Rooderkerk said the students from both schools would buddy up together and take on a range of activities.
"They've been coming here for the last 12 years. They come for two weeks every year and the emphasis is on them experiencing Kiwi home and school culture," she said.
"They're all staying with a family. There are a tonne of activities that they're doing, kayaking with our PE department, going to Te Papa, Bushy Park and places like the Sarjeant Gallery."
Whanganui City College has employed former teacher Natasha McKee to organise the visit and facilitate it.
Rooderkerk was thrilled with how the morning went.
"We have te reo as a compulsory course for our Year 9s, we're in week five and that was the first time the junior students did a pōwhiri," she said.
"It's fantastic for them to get to know other kids and realise that there's a big world out there with a variety of different people in it."
As part of the buddy system, City College students will check in with their Chitoku buddy every lunchtime and take them along to a couple of classes each day.
They will then share a barbecue together before the students fly back to Japan in two weeks.