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Students taking part in Collegiate Sports Day.

Whether people are coming from Dunedin, elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand, or from around the world, there will be something for every new Otago student at the University's 2023 Orientation week.

After a forced hiatus due to COVID-19, this year's festivities promise to be bigger than ever, with the
welcome mat being rolled out for some 4,000 students, most straight out of high school.

Head of Student Success at Otago, Dr Stephen Scott, says the best part of Orientation at Otago is that there is a real effort being made to help the new cohort of first years meet people, make friends, and develop a sense of community and belonging at Otago.

Many of the University's offices, divisions and student services will throw their own welcome events alongside the Otago University Students' Association's (OUSA) Ori'23 programme, which includes 10 events across the week.

The University's O-Week programme includes tours to help tauira navigate their new physical environment such as the locations of lecture theatres, libraries and the gym.

UNIO101, the transition lecture for all first-year students, will also be offered to help tauira transition to a new educational environment.

Unipol has organised the Collegiate Sports Day, which this year welcomes teams representing colleges, University Flats, the Locals Collegiate Community and for the first time, a team will represent Te Pā Tauira (Otago Polytechnic Student Village).

At the event, 17 teams will compete in tug-of-war and a relay race prior to a day of sports, where students will take part in football, volleyball, touch rugby and netball games.

Attendees can also look forward to performances from O Taiko, Otago University Cheerleading Club and Otago Dance Association throughout the day.

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Students ready for the Toga Party.

Acting Head of the Locals Collegiate Community Nathan Hollows says students attending the Locals orientation programme can look forward to “a big week where students can meet people and get ready for a great year”.

“Monday is an exciting day full of games and free food. Usually chaotic in a good way,” he says.

“Friday is a relaxed day in Locals HQ where people can hang out and get to know each other and the team better over board games.”

A pōwhiri will be held for Tauira Māori to connect with mana whenua ki Ōtākou, as well as the support staff at Te Huka Mātauraka and divisional kaiāwhina (student support officers).

Tūmuaki (Manager) of Te Huka Mātauraka Michelle Taiaroa says “O-Week is an opportunity for tauira and whānau especially to meet us, gain a sense of this whānau that will be theirs and have those kōrero of reassurance with Mum and Dad.”

Pacific students will have the option of attending the two-day Growing Pacific Scholars orientation, which will feature a tour around Ōtepoti, visits from divisional support staff, group bonding activities and other events that will equip students for their first year of study.

They will also receive a Pacific Welcome where Pacific students and their parents are formally welcomed by the University of Otago leadership.

General manager of Events, Clubs & Recreation at OUSA, Jason Schroeder, says the association is “deep in planning” for its events and is pleased to be able to host on campus and the Museum Reserve again.

2023 OUSA president Quintin Jane says the executive is “really excited to be able to get back out and interact face to face with all the students coming through our Ori events every day”.

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Tent City is always popular.

The programme is sure to have something for every student with food festivals, movie nights and live music events, including a performance right at the heart of campus by international headliners Yung Gravy and Netsky.

OUSA's student support safety team, Are You OK?, will attend every OUSA event for safety.

The pandemic largely dictated what could be offered for Orientation in recent years with almost every in-person event cancelled due to lockdown restrictions.

“We're really pleased to be able to host concerts again, as well as the return of the International Food Festival which has not been held since Ori 2021,” Quintin says.

Dr Scott says there is nothing like being at Otago in person and experiencing the events and welcomes and acknowledges all the mahi that the staff have done to put this Orientation together.

“To the students, get stuck in, be a University of Otago student, could look around, make yourself at home, enjoy the wider life opportunities available, make friends and get ready to study.

“Otago is your University now.”

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