Waitakere College has students of over 55 nationalities.

The diverse roll is made up of exchange students, international students, students whose families have moved to New Zealand and pupils with parents of different ethnicities.

Principal Mark Shanahan said the range of backgrounds brought richness to the school.

“We accept all students for who they are; their heritage and what they can bring to the school,” he said.

“If students are learning about something in social studies, history or geography that’s relevant to a student from a particular background, we encourage them to contribute to the class.”

Students were also encouraged to use their experiences for assessment.

“They might, for example, do a speech related to something from where they’re from,” Mr Shanahan said.

“It can be a great experience for students who have always lived in New Zealand as well, because they get to learn first-hand about different cultures.”

“The College has 80 Teachers and 40 additional staff working with its 1300 students. We try to have a diverse staff to relate to our students; Some are new New Zealanders themselves. Diversity is part of everything we do. There are opportunities for students to go on overseas trips. They are able to learn Mandarin, Japanese, Maori, French and Samoan.”

The school acknowledges everyone’s different backgrounds by putting a flag up in the assembly hall for each new international student who comes to the school. This five-year tradition has led to more than 70 flags being raised so far


Waitakere College is a successful mid-sized secondary school located in the heart of West Auckland.