History is being made at Kerikeri High School where two students from Liaoning in China have been taken on as international pupils.
Both were welcomed along with two other students from the Far North's sister city Yuasa in Japan.
It is 19 years since the board of trustees decided to bring international students to the high school.
Mayor Wayne Brown was on the board that made the call and joined the latest welcoming party.
He says the system gives the school an international flavour.
“It's very easy for a country to become a bit insular if it's at the other end of the world, and it's very easy for a small town to become a bit insular if it's at the end of that country.
"But this town has not done it."
He says Kerikeri High obviously rates well to attract pupils from overseas.
“This is a high quality school by any standards.”
The Far North District Council has subsidised the cost of the Chinese students and Mr Brown says the money is an investment in youth.
“I think it's a great thing,” he says.
“Children exposing themselves to our culture and more importantly our children learning a bit more about the world,” Mr Brown says.
Principal Elizabeth Forgie says schools in the northern hemisphere end for summer in June and July when the high school welcomes most of its international students.
Germany, Italy and Belgium, Ms Forgie says, make up the largest numbers in the international cohort at the school.
But other parts of Europe, South America and Asia are represented.
There are about 50 international students at any one time.
She sees the international students as potential friends for future travellers who attend Kerikeri High School as domestic students. But, she says, the international students are also ambassadors for tourism in the Bay of Islands when their families inevitably come for a visit.
- Bay Chronicle
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