Learning Hawke’s Bay Media Release 30 April 2020

Hundreds of international students who chose to stay in Hawke’s Bay during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown will celebrate the beginning of their studies a little differently this year.

Normally the mayors of Hastings and Napier would welcome the region’s international students at a special event for them and their host families. However due to the COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, this has been transformed into a virtual welcome put together by Learning Hawke’s Bay.

Learning Hawke’s Bay regional manager Wenhua Yang says more than 700 international students from India, China, Japan, Philippines, Germany, Thailand, Brazil, and New Caledonia have chosen to stay here in Hawke’s Bay during this challenging time.

“We have about 250 international students remaining at our schools and 457 international students at the Eastern Institute of Technology, and most of them will stay in Hawke’s Bay for a year or more.

“Only about a dozen of international students left Hawke’s Bay before the Level 4 lock-down – mostly German students on their mercy flights back home.

“The rest are all happy to stay and have been well supported by their home-stay families, teachers and their communities.”

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says this is an incredibly difficult time for our young people and it makes me enormously proud that hundreds of our international students are still here because they feel safe and well supported.

“This speaks volumes about the support they’re receiving from their schools and host families and the general community spirit shining through.”

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says it is really courageous that these international students have chosen to stay when they could have easily flown home weeks ago.

“We completely support and understand the decision that some students have made to go back home and we hope to welcome them back to our region in the future.”