Fifteen Japanese students from Whanganui's sister city Nagaizumi-cho are enjoying five days of cultural and educational activities in Whanganui.
The students, who are here as part of an annual sister city visit, are being hosted by Rutherford Junior High School families. They are accompanied by Nagaizumi-cho Town Council officers Kohei Yamakawa and Hiroshi Shishido and another Town Council employee Hiroko Ooka.
Rutherford Junior High principal Diane Henare said the annual visits had benefits for both the Japanese visitors and her students in learning about other cultures.
"This year we decided to offer our visitors the opportunity to see how a formal hangi is put down," Mrs Henare said.
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"We are trying to show them real New Zealand culture. They watched it being put down in the morning and then watched it being lifted. It's natural for us to see food being cooked in the ground but it was interesting to watch their faces when they saw the hangi."
Guests at the lunch included representatives of Whanganui police and Whanganui District Council, the students' host families and Rutherford Junior High staff.
The students will be attending some classes at Rutherford Junior High to practice their English. Other activities include visits to Bushy Park and Sarjeant on the Quay, a pizza and chips night watching the Pasifika movie Moana and a reception with Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall. At the weekend they will participate in activities with their host families.
The Nagaizumi-cho Town Council officers will visit Whanganui attractions, attend a dinner party at Mrs Henare's home and meet with Whanganui and Partners and Mr McDouall.
"It is a real pleasure to welcome our guests from Nagaizumi-cho and we value immensely our sister-city relationship," Mr McDouall said.
"During their stay we will discuss next year's celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of this special relationship. Whanganui is well-known for its manaakitanga and I'm sure this will shine through during their visit."