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University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, chancellor Royden Somerville, and Office of Maori Development director Tuari Potiki also spoke at the fourth annual convocation ceremony where students are welcomed to the university and to the city.
Mr Heath told the 4000 students at the Forsyth Barr Stadium they would ``find your people, your place and among those strangers some of your dearest friends''.
He urged students to look after themselves and their mental health, saying it was one of the focuses for OUSA this year - along with environmental action, preventing sexual violence, and having a greater emphasis on student issues in local body politics.
He encouraged students to turn to their association for help if they needed it, saying they would "never be a burden''.
Mr Cull told students he hoped they would stay in the city after they graduated, and Prof Hayne told the assembled students that she encouraged them to create great memories and to choose their friends wisely.
She also encouraged them to ``make the most of this unbelievable opportunity''.