From all corners to Queenstown

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 ONSELEN
Within Wakatipu High School’s almost 1500 students this year, about 55 different ethnicities — based on countries of birth — are represented.

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

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

Interestingly, Nathan says the number of students the school’s Awhina Fund’s supported so far this year has skyrocketed.

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

It helps with all aspects of school life, including fees, uniforms and laptops.

Nathan says in the past four weeks, they’ve drawn more from the fund than they have in "each of the last two years".

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

"We’ve awhied more than 50 laptops already, which are $1000 a piece, to make sure everybody’s got a device when they come here."

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

Nathan notes because Wakatipu High’s 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.

"You don’t get to pick and choose which students you get; you get everybody coming through the door and you need to support them as best you can."

Nathan says last year’s NCEA results put Queenstown’s only high school "well above national and decile band", though not quite as high as 2022.

"The kids did well — we still have high aspirations and there are always things we want to do better ... aim for the stars."