Influx of students - and their stuff

Moving stored items from last year's flat on Dundas St are University of Otago students (from...
Moving stored items from last year's flat on Dundas St are University of Otago students (from left) Nell Franklin (20), Sarah Ellis (19), Nickaela Gilmer (20), Alex Barrett (19) and Alex Butler (20), all of New Plymouth. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

The annual migration of students has begun, with the influx of young people providing a boost for Dunedin businesses.

Among those rushed off their feet by the returning masses was Air New Zealand Dunedin airport manager Alistair Bevin, who said the week before O-Week was one its busiest times of year.

The annual rush of students flying into the city started at the weekend and continued for about a week, Mr Bevin said.

The airline had increased its capacity ''dramatically'' to keep up with demand, but it would still be a ''struggle'' finding a seat on any of the flights coming into the city this week, he said.

The greatest difficulty for the airline was trying to squeeze all the students' baggage on to the planes.

''They are bringing the flat with them. We make an allowance for a full load of people with one or two bags each, but when they are all coming with three or four bags, not to mention the bikes and the surfboards ... it puts us under a strain.''

In the past, the airline had been forced to transport some luggage by land from Christchurch, but Mr Bevin hoped that would not be necessary this year.

Johns Furniture Warehouse store director Matt Williamson said staff were especially busy for a few weeks around Orientation.

''The guys are just flat stick all day at the moment, with load after load of beds.''

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors would notice a boost from the students coming back into town.

The students were often accompanied by their parents in the first week, and they also spent money while in town and stayed at local hotels, Mr Christie said.

The University of Otago vice-chancellor, Prof Harlene Hayne, said that the arrival of stu-dents brought a ''unique sense of vibrancy and vigour to Dunedin that lasts throughout the academic year''.

''I warmly welcome them all and encourage them to make the most of living and learning in our beautiful city,'' Prof Hayne said.

Staff at the university were also excited about their return, she said.

''There is an air of anticipation around campus as the university community gears up for another year of supporting the academic success of so many thousands of enthusiastic and ambitious students''The university's most recent economic impact report calculated that students added a value of more than $260 million to Dunedin, she said.


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