Global Ambassadors- Tauranga education delegation travels to Korea and Japan

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ET Delegation

A delegation of 23 local primary and secondary schools travelled to South Korea in September, to highlight the region’s education opportunities for the first time since 2019. The trip was coordinated by Education Tauranga and TKT agency, who have hosted education fairs together in Korea for 12 years pre-covid. The fairs were held in Seoul and Busan over three days and attracted 400 attendees, with more than 100 Korean students committing to study in Tauranga in Term 1, 2023.

Hyun Taek Yang, director of TKT agency said “Korean families love Tauranga because they can give their children a world-class education in a tight-knit and relatively small community of welcoming people. The fairs are a great opportunity for prospective families to meet Tauranga school representatives in person and find out what it’s like to live and study in New Zealand.”

Korean families stay in Tauranga for two or three years and contribute about $20 million per year into the local economy. On average, a single family will spend around $100,000 per year on various costs associated with setting up a home and taking part in tourism activities.

As the largest New Zealand delegation to visit South Korea since the end of 2019, Education Tauranga organised a special Alumni Event with Education New Zealand, to further cement these historical connections. Hosted by Philip Turner, New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea, 70 alumni Korean families attended the event, eager to reconnect and relive the positive experiences they had living and studying in Tauranga.

New Zealand Embassy in Japan

Education Tauranga’s Regional Relationship Manager, Melissa Gillingham said “It was exciting to travel offshore again to promote the Tauranga region. Korean families contribute so much to our city and our community – socially, culturally, and economically. The trip is a first-hand insight into Korean culture and helps us to better understand and support their integration into life and school in Tauranga.”

Representatives from the delegation took this chance to also visit their sister schools in person; Sanui Primary School and Hansin Elementary. The representatives were treated to full school tours and discussed the next steps in strengthening their relationships and the potential for restarting international exchanges once again.

Hansin Elementary School

In addition to the education fairs, this was also an opportunity to reconnect with Tauranga’s ‘friendship city’ in Korea; Ansan. Situated on the outskirts of Seoul, Ansan is a planned city that grew from a population of 120,000 to more than 750,000 in the past 50 years. With a wide scope of primary and secondary industries, and a strong focus on sustainable growth, the similarities connecting Tauranga and Ansan city are quite apparent.

On conclusion of the delegation’s successful events in Korea, Tauranga city representatives from Priority One, Dean Prendergast and Melissa Gillingham, also travelled to Japan to continue with relationship marketing across Asia.

2022 marks 70 years of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Japan, and a visit to the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo helped in recognising this milestone. The Priority One team met with representatives from top Japanese universities, including Waseda University and Japan Woman’s University, to discuss study abroad and online exchange opportunities in which students can share and learn from each other. “It is important to discuss ways for youth to connect over common goals that will continue to unite our two countries for future generations” says Gillingham, referring to the UN SDGs which were a common point of interest between schools in both counties.

Komao Junior Highschool

The Priority One team also visited Tauranga’s sister-city, Hitachi, in the Ibaraki prefecture. 2023 will see the two cities celebrating their 35th anniversary of the sister city relationship – a significant and longstanding relationship that has seen countless reciprocal exchanges on an educational, economic, and personal level. Hitachi contracts two Assistant Language Teachers (ALT’s) from Tauranga each year, however due to covid both positions are currently sitting vacant. Recruitment is underway for these roles, with contracts commencing in April next year.

During a meeting with Hitachi’s mayor, the room quickly embellished into one of common stories, positive exchanges, and a feeling of real sister-cityship. The mayor was quick to declare how pleased he was with the visit and expressed his eager anticipation for the mayoral delegation visit to Hitachi next year, led by Commissioner Anne Tolley.