great kiwi summer
A very merry Christmas and "manaakitanga" for international students in New Zealand. Source: Pexels

Laid-back, outdoorsy, scenic — New Zealand has a lot to offer international students. A Kiwi summer is a promise of a good time, which is exactly what the New Zealand government and educational institutions are using to persuade international students to stay in the country in the next few months. Schools are planning holiday events; tourist attractions are giving discounts; homestay families are happy to adopt international students over Christmas.

“It’s basically a mix of nuts and bolts stuff around making sure you renew your visa if you need to renew it, tips on well-being, tips on safety, advice if people are thinking about perhaps doing further study, but also tapping into both Tourism New Zealand and regional EDAs [Economic Development Agencies] providing information around what is happening during summer in New Zealand,” says Education New Zealand’s general manager, partnerships and marketing, Paul Irwin.

The “Great Kiwi Summer” campaign is part tourism promotion and part pastoral care for students who are in the middle of their courses or fear leaving the country and interrupting their studies. The campaign is by Education New Zealand and organisations including the Association of International Students and Immigration New Zealand.  International students can expect to receive direct emails as part of the summer campaign.

“We are totally aware that these students are away from home at a very difficult time so I think if we were Kiwis with our kids overseas in a different country, I’m sure we would want that country to look after our children, so I think that sense of ‘manaakitanga’ is really important in this situation,” Irwin adds.

“These students are tourists and they’re also ambassadors for our country when they go home or when they email or are on social media to their friends back home, so a happy student is good for the student but also for our country’s broader reputation,” he said.

It’s a campaign set to make things much better for international students who are stuck in New Zealand due to travel restrictions. More than just positive messages, now they will be able to experience the famed Kiwi hospitality for longer.

“At the beginning, I was a little bit disappointed that I couldn’t go back home and meet my friends and mum, but I’m also happy because I can finally spend my Christmas with my homestay family … they’re like my New Zealand grandparents,” Chinese student Yujie Wei told RNZ. She also plans to work part-time and gain more social experience during summer.