From mid-April, international students will start returning to New Zealand, bringing with them a boost to the Hawke’s Bay economy, and the opportunity to return to their homelands as advocates for the country and the region.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst welcomed the news that fully vaccinated international students with valid visas will next month start flying into New Zealand, after two years’ absence due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s exciting that we are about to be opening the doors to our international students again, and all the benefits they bring to our local economy and community.”
It will mean up to 5000 international students will travel to New Zealand in time for semester 2. From July onwards, even more international students can arrive under the border reopening plan.
Before the COVID-19 disruption, international education was New Zealand’s fifth largest export industry, contributing around $5 billion annually to the national economy.
“In Hawke’s Bay, in 2019, we had about 1300 international students in total – about 40 per cent of them in our schools and 60 per cent in tertiary education. These international students supported 730 jobs and contributed about $60m to our local economy,” Mrs Hazlehurst said.
The benefits of international students were more than financial though, she added.
Locally, education association Learning Hawke’s Bay, with support from both Hastings and Napier councils, worked hard to promote the region’s high-quality education providers and its exciting cultural and sport activities, beautiful natural environment, comfortable climate, as well as looking after the personal safety of students studying and living here.
“While here, students are encouraged to visit local marae and learn about Māori culture and language; join in hobby clubs to learn crafts; participate in sport and tourist activities; work in orchards, vineyards, and hospitality businesses; or get involved in charity work to support others in need.”
Learning Hawke’s Bay also runs a student ambassador programme to ensure that member schools have resources to run school-based activities for international students to be well supported and integrated into the school and local communities.
The benefits of such programmes go both ways. Mrs Hazlehurst said.
For students gaining an education here, it puts “Brand New Zealand” and “Brand Hawke’s Bay” on the world stage. When people choose to study here, they usually return to their home nation (and new countries) with highly commended qualifications, as well as new networks and connections made through their time in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
“Having positive experiences in Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand also makes them advocates for our region and country – who we are as people, and what we have to offer.”
In January this year, Hastings District Council joined Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) Welcoming Communities programme that helps local councils create welcoming and inclusive environments for newcomers.
“As we prepare to welcome new students chasing their dreams here in Hawke’s Bay, I personally thank our international student community for their commitment to our region and strongly encourage our local residents to extend a warm Bay welcome to them.”
21 March 2022
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