An eastern Bay of Plenty Maori tertiary institution was marking its 20th anniversary on Friday with a huge graduation ceremony celebrating the first of its doctoral students from New Zealand and overseas.
More than 1000 of the 2000 students graduating from Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi were converging on the Whakatane War Memorial Complex to receive their qualifications after a powhiri on the new marae, Te Manuka Tutahi.
Awanuiarangi spokesperson Wiremu Doherty said the graduation would also demonstrate the international and indigenous links it has with students and tertiary institutions around the world.
He said the event would have a very strong international flavour which represents areas the wananga works in.
Professor Doherty says the event was being attended by a group of First Nations Chiefs from Ontario in Canada, two Saami scholars from northern Scandinavia who have worked there for nine months, and a delegation from Hawai'i supporting one of their students at the institution.
Awanuiarangi chief executive and vice chancellor Distinguished Professor Graham Smith says the annual Gown and Town parade through Whakatane gives the community the opportunity to acknowledge the graduates' success.