Can I acknowledge Malcolm Lyall the Deputy Mayor of Selwyn; Grant McPherson, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand who has come to Christchurch specially for today’s event; all of our distinguished education representatives and special guests; and most importantly you, our international students.
Today is significant because it’s the first time that we have officially welcomed tertiary students to our city since before the pandemic. And it’s especially meaningful because so many of you have been through so much to get here, facing difficulties that didn’t exist before COVID-19.
Last week I met with a group of secondary school students who have recently come to New Zealand, just like you. One of the questions I was asked by the group was what was the benefit of international education to Christchurch?
The answer is that the international students add so much to the social, cultural and economic life of our city. You are part of our story, our desire to be a place that is open to new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things – a place where anything is possible.
So I wanted to be here myself to tell you that we truly value having you here, and we’re honoured that you’ve chosen to make Christchurch your second home.
You have chosen a very special part of the country to come to. Not only do we have quality educational institutions, but we can offer a lifestyle and special experiences that will shape you as a person. For example I often say to visitors to our city that you can go skiing and surfing in the same day – not that you would want to!
I would like to finish with a quote from the great Nelson Mandela, who simply said that “education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”.
I wish you well for your studies and your lives here in Christchurch.
Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā ra tatou katoa