20 March 2019 at 9:00 am

International education matters

The terrorist attack in Christchurch was an assault on the values that New Zealanders hold dear – values of international friendship, tolerance, care and a global outlook.

These values are at the core of international education and they are more important now than ever.

Over the past five days, these values have been clearly demonstrated by our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who describes New Zealand as a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities and 160 languages.

“We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism… (or) are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things; because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those that share our values, a refuge for those who need it.”

These values are embedded in our education system.

The New Zealand International Education Strategy 2018-2030 also reflects these principles.  A key goal is to grow global citizens – to ensure both domestic and international students have the skills and capabilities to live, learn and work globally.

While our country grieves, we have been heartened by the outpouring of love and support within New Zealand and from around the world. It has been encouraging to see student-led compassion at work – Campus Watch initiatives, social media engagement and practical help with transport and food.

Last year, the University of Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army (SVA) welcomed student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the US, scene of a deadly school shooting, to discuss student-led mobilisation in the face of extreme challenge. When Friday’s attack happened, the US students were quick to reach out to their Christchurch peers. This is a testament to international education’s ability to foster meaningful and life-long connections.

ENZ will continue to promote New Zealand internationally as an inclusive and welcoming study destination – why? Because international education changes hearts and minds.

Kia kaha, Kia maia, Kia manawanui – be strong, be steadfast, be willing.


Grant McPherson, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand

Grant McPherson







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