55 ethnicities among school’s pupils

Wakatipu High School principal Oded Nathan (back left) pictured with representatives of 28 of the...
Wakatipu High School principal Oded Nathan (back left) pictured with representatives of 28 of the school’s 55 different cultures and ethnicities this year. Photo: Rhyva van Onselon
Within Wakatipu High School’s almost 1500 pupils this year, about 55 different ethnicities — based on countries of birth — are represented.

Long one of the country’s most diverse schools, so far this year its roll was sitting at 1459, up from 1350 a year ago, principal Oded Nathan said.

Included in the student body are 22 international pupils, up from 14 last year, and a host of new pupils whose families have migrated to Queenstown from overseas.

Mr Nathan said the number of pupils the school’s Awhina Fund had supported so far this year had skyrocketed.

The fund, administered by the Wakatipu High School Foundation, ensured equity of access to education and removed financial barriers, enabling pupils to participate in curricular and extracurricular activities.

Mr Nathan said in the past four weeks, the school had drawn more from the fund than it had in "each of the last two years".

"The number of families needing financial support, either with their devices or their uniforms, is really noticeable."

The school had supplied more than 50 laptops already using the fund, at $1000 a piece, "to make sure everybody’s got a device when they come here".

He said the school was indebted to the community for the support it provided to the foundation and Branches Trust, without which "we wouldn’t be able to do that".

Mr Nathan said because Wakatipu High was a public, co-ed school, "anybody who rocks up ... we get to take".

"That adds to the diversity — the socio-economic diversity of the students and in the community. I like that.

"I didn’t want to work in a private single-sex school, I wanted the diversity that it offers, but I think that’s what makes the academic achievement of the students here even more phenomenal.

Mr Nathan said last year’s NCEA results put Queenstown’s only high school "well above national and decile band [average]", although not quite as high as in 2022.