This month sees the culmination of the Waikato initiative promoting community inclusion for international students, with 150 University of Waikato and Wintec students taking part in a noho marae at Tūrangawaewae in Ngāruawāhia.
The partnership of the University, Wintec, Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Police received funding from the Ministry of Education as part of its International Student Wellbeing Strategy, and has already offered international students a Waikato Chiefs Experience, and collaborated on an International Week.
The funding means that the Noho Marae trip is free for attendees, giving all students the opportunity to attend regardless of their financial circumstances. The group will be welcomed onto the Marae with a pōwhiri, stay overnight in the wharenui, and take part in cultural activities including haka, poi, waka (on the Waikato River), tī rakau and laying down a hāngī.
While both institutions have offered noho marae to international students in the past, this will be the first combined offering, and the largest. Being hosted by Tūrangawaewae Marae is a great privilege as it is a highly significant marae in the Waikato, being the home of the Kīngitanga and the headquarters of the Māori King.
International student Penny (Pengxuan) Xie is looking forward to the experience. “Everything here (in the Waikato) differs from my hometown. The noho marae trip is a fantastic chance to experience all aspects of the amazing Māori culture. Maybe in the future, I will be able to introduce New Zealand and its distinctive culture to my family members and friends.”
The trip will bring together international students from more than 30 countries, to share and learn about each other and their own cultures, as well as experiencing tikanga Māori.