Northland to welcome 50 international students from July 2022

Study Northland has confirmed nearly 50 international students will return to Northland in time for the second tertiary semester and third term of secondary school commencing in July, after lengthy border closure impacts on inbound education.

Jo Lees, Project Manager for Study Northland says the pending arrival of tertiary and secondary students is a “triumphant and symbolic moment for Northland’s international education sector”, after an absence of offshore ākonga (students) for two-and-a-half years. 

“Our schools and education providers are thrilled to very soon see international students joining our classrooms and campuses once again – bringing with them a range of social and cross-cultural benefits to our local communities,” says Lees.

“These students represent global connection for Northland; they enrich the learning experience for local students through diversity of thought and offer an incredible cultural exchange that learners and the wider community have missed since the onset of COVID.”

Kerikeri High School will have the largest contingent of Northland’s 39 secondary students, with Director of International Students, Jessica Donovan, welcoming their long-awaited return of 23 students to the school.

“It’s a privilege to once again be able to play host to a culturally diverse range of students who choose to call Kerikeri High School their second home,” says Donovan.

Amongst the cohort are NorthTec tertiary students reuniting with their friends and sports teams after two years, and a Vietnamese high schooler who will study at Whangarei Girls’ High and pathway to study a Bachelor of Social work at NorthTec in 2023.

As part of Northland’s reconnection with offshore students, Whangarei Girls’ High School will welcome a group of pupils from its Japanese sister school, Otani High School, for a three-week exchange in July – the first exchange since COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, the school maintained their relationship and connected online for cultural exchanges. While these interactions helped encourage cross-cultural learning for both schools, nothing beats the interpersonal skills and experience you gain from interacting with another culture kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face)”, says Whangarei Girls’ High School International Director, Amelia Morrison.

Study Northland is planning a range of ‘welcome back’ activities to celebrate the long-awaited return of students to the region – including a visit to Waitangi Treaty Grounds and an event at the new Hundertwasser Art Centre planned for August and September.

Beyond the reconnection of friendships and cross-cultural stimulation in classrooms, Northland’s business community anticipates a subsequent boost to local tourism.

“The economic impact of welcoming international students back to Northland is significant,” says Tania Burt, General Manager Destination at Northland Inc.

“Not only do these students build rich cultural exchanges into Northland’s learning environments, they also contribute economically to our local tourism, retail and hospitality businesses – who have gone without the usual level of inbound visitor spend for a long time.

“Many of these students will bring their families to visit and experience the best of Northland – contributing significantly to the return of international visitation and rebuild of our tourism industry.”


  • Before COVID-19, international education was New Zealand’s fifth largest export industry, contributing around $5 billion annually to the national economy.
  • In May 2022, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced international students will be able to enrol at schools and tertiary institutions from July 31 – two months earlier than the previous October date.
  • Northland’s 50 students were part of an approved cohort of students eligible for study visas as per the Government’s immigration and enrolment settings
  • In 2019 (prior to border closures), Northland had 800 international students – 25 per cent in schools and 75 per cent in tertiary education.


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