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Igniting A Passion For Taranaki To Attract International Students

The once blossoming industry of international education is continuing to recover, with Te Puna Umaga Venture Taranaki, the regional development agency, hosting two separate delegations in March and April.

Prior to the pandemic, Taranaki was home to over 1,000 international students, however these numbers dropped to under 500 in 2022 due to impacts from lockdowns.

The economic impact of this is significant. In 2018, international students contributed $50 million to the Taranaki economy and supported around 330 jobs. While the sector has been slowly recovering, there is optimism that the region is regaining momentum.

The first delegation included eight high-school teachers from Japan, a staff member from Air NZ, and two staff from Education New Zealand (ENZ). The teachers were from the Kansai and Kantō regions, and Taranaki was the second stop of a tour which included Auckland, Whanganui, and Palmerston North. The delegation sought to understand New Zealand's High School education system for girls, with a focus on gender equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as inquiry-based learning and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

"Teachers from Japan have quite a bit of influence on students", says Sean Markham, Talent Advisor at Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki. "Unlike students from other countries who only rely on advice from international education agents, Japanese students tend to have strong relationships with their teachers, who also lead their international programmes, so it’s great to have them here to showcase the region."

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These visits to New Zealand, known as "famils", are a key avenue for teachers and agents to familiarise themselves with a region and create (or build on) relationships with educational providers. It’s not all about what happens in the classroom either - it’s vital that the lifestyle an international student will have while studying in Taranaki is showcased too.

Activities often highlight cultural experiences and local sightseeing.

A second delegation, which included three agents representing Brazil, German, French, Philippines, Vietnamese, and Thailand markets, were in Taranaki for two full days. Their schedule included cultural and tourism visits to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Puke Ariki museum, the coastal walkway, windwand, Te Rewa Rewa bridge, Back Beach, Fitzroy beach, and a picnic up Maunga Taranaki. In terms of education familiarisation, they received a tour of Pacific International Hotel Management School (PIHMS), WITT Te Pūkenga, Lingua, and New Plymouth Girls’ High School.

"We always enjoy showcasing our school and believe that spending time here is the best way to truly understand who we are and what we do", says Jacqui Brown, Principal at New Plymouth Girls’ High School. "Visits from those who support students with their adventure to New Zealand is the first step."

Japanese delegation and Sean Markham (Venture Taranaki, Talent Advisor) arriving at New Plymouth Girls' High School

"At New Plymouth Girls’ High School one of our values is Whanaungatanga/Relationships. Every visit is an opportunity to build or strengthen relationships and share our place in a globally connected world. We enjoy the rich diversity of thought, experience, and ideas that come from having students from around the world learning together at our school. Students have the opportunity to develop their understanding of themselves and each other and recognise that we share more similarities than differences."

"International students bring a wealth of benefits to the region", continues Markham. "This includes economic benefits, but more importantly, they help create global citizens for our domestic students by bringing cross-cultural learning into our classrooms and lecture theatres".

Are you an education provider looking to get involved in international education famils? Or are you someone who could host an international student? Please get in touch with Sean (

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