Nearly 200 international students arrived in Christchurch
yesterday, signalling a possible end to the downturn because
of the 2011 quake.
The 191-strong group from Teikyo University Junior and Senior
High School in Tokyo, are here for a three week English
language programme at the Christchurch College of English
The Japanese school had been studying in Christchurch for 25
years before the quake. But like many other overseas schools,
the school until now had not returned.
Eighty-one international students and staff from King's
Education language school were killed in the CTV building in
the February 22 earthquake in 2011.
Following the earthquake, the region saw a drop in
international students with Canterbury's international
student numbers falling by 37 per cent from 2010 to 2011 and
a further 32 per cent from 2011 to 2012.
Some schools had continued to bring students to Christchurch
following the earthquake, but a large number had not, CCEL
principal Glenys Bagnall said.
"Prior to the earthquake we had a large group of programmes,
but we had between 25 and 30 groups that came and most of
them stopped coming in 2011.
"This is the first time that a group has stopped coming and
has decided to come back,'' she said.
"I think it's a really good vote of confidence for
Christchurch and the school. I know they are really
interested in seeing the changes to Christchurch and how it's
developing, they take a keen interest and it's great they
feel now is the time they can come back.''
Teikyo University Junior and Senior High School principal
Yojiro Takeyama said the school, which had been coming to
Christchurch for 25 years, moved the yearly visit to
Australia because students were anxious about Christchurch.
"Last year I visited, we decided there is no problem with
having the programme back in Christchurch.''
Mr Takeyama said the students and staff were excited to be
back in Christchurch, and planned a memorial service at
Avonhead Park Cemetery's interment site for the 2011
earthquake victims this afternoon.
"We are going to play a Japanese song for the people who died
in the 2011 earthquake,'' he said.
Chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of
Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the students
were a welcome "sign of healing'' from Christchurch's
"It's great to see that things are getting back on track.
It's a general sign that the economy is going through the
recovery phase and into sustained economic activity,'' he
"They are a very, very valuable part of our education system
and our economy because they bring money to spend but they
also bring friends and family to Christchurch.''
Mr Townsend said the international linkages created by an
increase in students would help boost New Zealand and
Christchurch on the world stage.
- By Fiona Thomas of the Christchurch Star