Yesterday evening roughly 120 Rotorua-based international students from nearly 20 countries, plus their host parents and teachers, attended a Christmas celebration hosted by Rotorua Economic Development (RED) and Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) at the Council building.
Rotorua is currently home for nearly 1,300 students from countries around the world who’ve come to study at our local schools or tertiary providers. In a normal year, many of these students would return home for the summer holidays, but they now face being away from their families for Christmas while the borders are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
As international education is a key focus area for RED, the organisation and RLC paired up to host the event for these students and their homestay parents as a show of the city’s support. The event aimed to acknowledge the challenges the students are facing due to being away from home for so long, and to thank them for choosing Rotorua for their studies.
RED interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said, “International students make a significant contribution to the Rotorua culture and economy (they contributed $71m in 2018), and the Christmas function is a way of showing our appreciation and extending the care and manaakitanga that the city is so well known for.”
RED has also teamed up with Education New Zealand (ENZ) and other Regional Tourism Organisations to create a summer retention programme for these students who are having to make tough decisions about their education choices and whether to stay in New Zealand or return home for an unknown period.
Sixteen-year-old Lina Haubeck (pictured below with Rotorua host parents Ray and Colleen Ellis) said she’s been loving Rotorua for the past 11 months while studying at Western Heights High School. She’s been taking advantage of the summer programme, going to as many places as possible before her flight back home to Hamburg, Germany in a couple weeks.
Korean mum Susan Kim and her two daughters (pictured above), Rosemary (15) and Esther (10), have been in Rotorua for nearly a year and a half and say they love it here. Big sister Chanmi, now 18, arrived before them to study for four years in Rotorua and graduate from high school.