Deputy PM urges students to make most of Dunedin

Create new memories, take opportunities, and enjoy what Dunedin has to offer.

Those were some of the words of wisdom imparted by dignitaries to first-year University of Otago students at yesterday’s Convocation ceremony.

About 3600 "freshers" converged on Forsyth Barr Stadium for their official welcome to university life.

This year’s special guest speaker was Deputy Prime Minister, and University of Otago alumnus, Grant Robertson.

He advised students to get involved in clubs and activities, and to venture further south than just the Octagon.

Thousands of first-year University of Otago students attended yesterday’s Convocation ceremony at...
Thousands of first-year University of Otago students attended yesterday’s Convocation ceremony at Forsyth Barr Stadium. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The former Otago University Students’ Association president reflected on his time protesting student fee hikes, which included occupying the Registry building "a couple of times".

It taught him the importance of standing up for what he believed in, he said.

He also acknowledged that many of the first-year students would have been in year 13 in 2020, a year in which they faced significant disruption due to Covid-19.

The loudest applause of the ceremony went to musician Lani Alo, who delivered three stirring performances.

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey urged students to acknowledge the place they now called home, saying Otepoti was a place to cherish.

"Universities are meant to hold the place of conscience and critic in society, you are now part of that kaupapa," she said.

Mr Robertson paid tribute to vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne, who will leave the university for a new role in Australia in April.

Several speakers also acknowledged the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, which affected students and staff at the Christchurch campus.

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