Student Testimonials

My name is Den Otsuki and I have been studying at Shirley Boys’ High School since 2020 for nearly 3 years. During my time at Shirley Boys’ High School, the school has given me a variety of opportunities to make me develop academically, in leadership,  culturally in music, drama and in sport.

Shirley Boys’ High School is a school that puts effort into developing students' leadership I was given the role of Head of Environmental Council, School Jazz Band Leader, and Student House Prefect. Also During the year, I was honoured to receive an Emerging Leaders award presented by the Ministry of Education. From my experiences at school, I've learnt that a leader is a person who knows how to guide people, from the front and back to ensure that all the members of the team can succeed. A leader is someone who focuses on the well-being and development of the entire group. I feel very lucky to be a part of the leadership group at Shirley Boys’ High School and to be working with supportive and encouraging students.

Another thing that is very significant in my school life is the cultural activities which are Music and Drama. Throughout the 3 years at Shirley Boys’ High School I was able to boost my performing skills which lead me to improve my presentation skills as well. I was very fortunate to have Mr Banks, Mr Munn, and Ms Speechly as my cultural teachers who have given me a lot of opportunities to perform. I have attended a variety of competitions and concerts such as Jazz Quest, Jazz Quest Combo, Rockquest, Otautahi Jazz Jam and Shakespeare festivals. I took Saxophone lessons and I was able to win the honourable mention award for the best saxophonist in the Jazz Quest Combo Competition. By attending these performances and competitions I was able to make connections with people inside and outside school which I know will help me with my future pathway.

Other than Leadership and cultural activities I was involved in the SBHS ultimate frisbee team in 2022. Our team won the South Island Ultimate Championships.

I am grateful for being an international student at Shirley Boys’ High School with the support of Ms Nesbit and Ms Russ. Shirley Boys’ High School is a great school that gives a lot of opportunities to the students. I am proud to call myself a Shirley Man.



“ I am Kien Ngo, an international year 13 student at Shirley Boys’ High School. Three years in Shirley Boys’ have been challenging, yet interesting due to the influence of Covid-19. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and experience a multicultural environment. Arriving in New Zealand, overwhelmed, amazed, and a bit foreign were all the feelings that I had from the cuisine, and lifestyle to the language, everything seemed to be different from my home – Vietnam. I learned to embrace the differences and diversity of other cultures as well as new environments. After getting through Year 11 with an Excellence endorsement in Music, I gained the experience to strive better than before, which is one of the five school values. Deepening the value, I achieved my goal of achieving 5 academic excellence awards in Year 12 with 4 excellence subject endorsements at the end of the year. 

There are loads of opportunities to try new things and be involved at school. I have picked up a new sport - Ultimate Frisbee and contributed to winning the School South Island Championship in 2022. I have been fortunate to learn Japanese language as my third language at Shirley. With guidance from my Japanese teacher - Miura Sensei, I have gained my confidence in using Japanese in my daily life as well as strengthening my cultural appreciation. I was excited to enter and win the Canterbury Japanese speech competition. My time at Shirley was enriched by being selected for an exchange trip to Melbourne, Australia, where I learned about the inclusiveness of our community and making new friends. 

Having the opportunity to pursue my interests outside of academics is one of the best things I've experienced in Shirley. I had a dream of being a part in an orchestra so joining the Christchurch Youth Orchestra (CYO) was a dream come true. For me, it didn’t seem doable with my non-professional violin skills. But, through the encouragement and support from the Shirley music department, I have improved my skills and in 2022, I successfully auditioned to be a part of the Violin II section in the CYO. People in the orchestra are skilful, but also very friendly, which creates a perfect learning environment for me. In September, I got to travel to Dunedin with the orchestra to perform with the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, which was a chance for me to expand my social connections.

Looking back to my journey, I am not just proud of achieving academically, or improving my musical skills or other recognitions, but also spreading the happiness and positivity to people who I came across. The time at Shirley for me will end soon and I will continue my next big step at the University of Canterbury. My wish is for the next Shirley generation to always be proud to be a Shirley man in the same way as I am.”



“This is my second year and Shirley’s a great school. I enjoyed my time here. All my teachers are supportive and friendly. The students are very nice and helpful too. I set myself academic goals from the start of the year. I’m proud to say with the help of my teachers and friends I achieved the top year 12 student award with 5 academic excellences. I took part in basketball and debating. I did some volunteer work and was a member of the Global Council. Next year I am excited to have a leadership role in my house group. I’m really looking forward to year 13 and the challenges it brings.”



"I have been at Shirley Boys’ High School for about 3 years and half. I have achieved a lot at Shirley and have good memories. I played softball at Shirley. I have done some school trips. I had 2 homestays and they were kind.

ESOL is the best subject for me because I could improve my English skills in my ESOL class. Ms. White was the teacher of ESOL. She was amazing. Additionally, Ms. Nesbit and Ms. Russ were great as well. They work for international students and they helped me many times.

I participated in the South Island softball tournament. We went to Alexandra for the tournament. We did well and I think we were at 3rd or 4th. My teammates were awesome. It was fun.

I did some another school trips. We went to Auckland, Kaikoura, Tekapo and some places. Auckland was brilliant. I did the sky jump and the view from the sky tower was wonderful. In Kaikoura, I did whale watching and I could see a whale.

I stayed at 2 wonderful homestays. I could learn different habits compared to Japan. I had Fish & Chips and pizza lots of times. It was delicious. I also went to camping with my homestay. I tried paddling and it was so much fun.

I did many things at Shirley Boys’. It was a great time. I would recommend Shirley Boys’ because they have amazing environment for school life. There are great teachers and a large choice of subjects.

Kazuki graduated in 2022 with NCEA Level 3. He was an active participant in all facets of school life such as sports and volunteer work."



"My name is Kotaro Doi. I’m from Japan. I’ve been going to Shirley Boys’ High School since 2021. My classes and teachers are kind and supportive. Of course, living abroad had some difficulties but I worked through them. I remember starting at SBHS well, I went on a great school trip. I have done well at SBHS and I’m proud that I am one of the students here.

My first day at SBHS didn’t began in a classroom. I joined a school trip, which was organized by teachers. I went to many tourist sites, Dunedin, Wellington, Akaroa and the West Coast. However, Dunedin was my favourite. I visited the Art Street Trail, Dunedin Railway Station, Moeraki Boulders Beach, and Baldwin Street, which is the steepest in the world. In terms of historic buildings and nature, Dunedin was amazing place. After starting school, I also participated in Akaroa trip during a term holiday. I had a great time by going the beautiful destination and visiting Onuku church.

School trips attracted my interest in Tourism, so I chose Tourism as a subject. I enjoyed studying and worked hard in the class because I had a deep interest in Tourism. At first, I didn’t understand technical terms related Tourism, but I overcame the difficulties by asking Mr. Keats or my friends. I got Gold Standard Award Recognition for tourism twice when I was Yr 12 and Yr 13.

Through travelling NZ and studying Tourism, I realized that NZ comprehends the importance of the own country’s attractiveness such as abundant nature and Māori culture. In addition, NZ utilizes it effectively to make money and preserve its value. This school was a perfect place to look for what I really want to do in the future. When I go back to Japan, I am going to study Tourism and Business at university. Based on what I learnt at SBHS, I am going to promote Japan’s Tourism in the future.

Kotaro graduated in 2022 with NCEA Level 3. He gained the Year 13 Tourism prize and the English language prize for the top student."



“Memorable is the word that sums up my time in SBHS. Three years under Shirley Boys’ High School, I have experienced a lot of new things that I will never forget. Coming from a far away country, SBHS has welcomed me with warm arms. They treat me like family and show me what the meaning of “Whānau” is. That helps me a lot in adapting to life far from home. I’ve learned a lot from this school both academically and morally.

I want to send the deepest thanks to all the teachers, staff and friends who are supporting me during my time here. I’ve had a great time and I will never forget you guys.

Finally, here are my words to the incoming students. Enjoy your time in high school because it will go really fast. Learn hard, play hard and always be proud to be a Shirley man.”

Dat Truong


“What I like about Shirley boy is everyone is friendly and helpful. The teachers help me when I need help”



“It was a great experience learning in Shirley Boys High School. I played rugby this year. Unfortunately, I got injured through the pre-season but I played few games. They welcomed me and treated me well. I really loved to play for this school and team. Academically, teachers helped me a lot when I was struggling with my work.”



“I still remember the first day when I came to Shirley. I was very worried about friends, but I made some kiwi friends whom I can have a fun conversation with. In fact, I wasn’t able to have a conversation with them because I couldn’t speak English at all. However, one day, I noticed my English skills have been improving since I came to New Zealand. Anyway, I had a great time in New Zealand.”



“My experience at Shirley boys has been very good. I like the way people are so nice and welcome me into everything. I like the school because its new and different from others. They excel in sports which I like. All the teachers have been good to me and helped me with my journey through this school.”



“I had a great time at Shirley Boys’. I made lots of Kiwi and foreign friends. Teachers are kind to me and they can teach well. I loved being in the table tennis club as I had chances to play with many competitive players. This school gave me opportunities to do new things and to meet new people.”



“I have had a great time studying at Shirley Boy High school, I got many opportunities to make new friends with the other boys from another countries.”

Chi Phat


“I had a great time as an exchange student. Looking back now there were some hard times but only the good memories remain in my mind. Through my studying abroad experience, I have become more connected to the world, listened to more people’s opinions, faced myself more and thought more deeply than before I left. I feel like I have found what I want to do and what I want to study in the future.”


Japan, 1 year exchange student

Year 12 International Student Ken Burkholder created a ‘Guide for international students coming to Christchurch’:

‘Studying in Christchurch is very different compared with Japan, especially the school system. Here at Shirley, we move between classes because every class has students taking different subjects. The way subjects are taught and the activities during the class are also different. We do not just read textbooks and take notes. Actually most subjects do not use textbooks. There are a lot of essays and reports. We don’t do essays or writing reports in Japan so it’s hard to write them, especially in English, but doing this helps you improve your English and think more logically.

Homestay Some families are kind and some are strict. However, you have to appreciate everything your host family does for you and communicate with them. This will lead to a good relationship.

Language is always an issue when you live overseas. I feel the difference in the accent. Maybe this is because I’m half American but sometimes it can be difficult to understand Kiwis. In Japan we mostly study American English so sometimes in New Zealand you hear words you have not heard before like ‘rubbish’ [trash] and ‘lollies’ [candy].

Food is very different. People don’t eat so much rice and miso soup. Instead, we have mostly meat, potato, vegetables and bread. It tastes good but sometimes you may want to have other things.

The main public transport in Christchurch is by bus. There are many routes so you can go almost anywhere but you have to know the bus won’t always come on time. It may be late but the price isn’t so high so it’s a good idea to use it.

Things to do. Christchurch isn’t a big city compared to Japan so there aren’t many places to hang out. However there are lots of places to play sport, hundreds of parks with green grass, as well as nearby places to ski and surf so I recommend outdoor activities here.

Benefits of an overseas experience. You can experience things you will never have in Japan. You can improve your communication when you come here. You don’t know anybody and also your own Japanese family won’t be there so you have to take care yourself and need to talk to somebody if you need help. At the first it may feel hard but, if you don’t give up, I’m sure you will have a good time in Christchurch.’

Talented Year 12 musician Makoto Niino looks back at his three terms in Christchurch:

‘I would like to talk about what I thought while I stayed here.

It is extraordinary that life in New Zealand is not so busy compared with Japan. When I live in Japan, I take a tube to go to my high school. I have four big exams over three terms and my school often finishes at 7:30pm, so I cannot use the Music Department until my band’s shift.

In New Zealand, these things are different, it is more relaxed. I now understand things that I have never thought about in Japan. I am really pleased to mention this.

I think New Zealand’s culture is similar in some ways to Japan. We have not only traditional culture but also recent culture.

My father and my grandfather are Japanese flute players at Kabuki which is one of the Japanese traditions since the Genroku era (from about 1688). I can play the Japanese traditional flute, too. When I arrived at New Zealand, I wanted to tell people about Japanese culture. I played my flute in several local cultural events and at school assembly. I am really proud and pleased that I could perform in front of people from another country and a different culture.

If I had not come here, I definitely could not learn about another culture and compare it with my own. I really want to say “Thank you so much’’ not only to Shirley Boys High School but also to my parents and to my host family. You have reminded me and made me aware of a lot of things, and you have helped me to grow up so much.

I am really proud that I could experience New Zealand life at Shirley Boys’ High School with lots of great people.

Thank you so much, everyone and everything!

Adrien Nobliet visited for a month from France in 2016. His enthusiasm and willingness to try everything not only made his experience special but meant he made great friends at Shirley who have fond memories of him.

‘I wish to communicate appropriately my gratitude to Shirley Boys’ High School and to my Host Family I had during my amazing trip in New Zealand.

During my short life, I had the occasion to visit many countries from many different continents, but my New Zealand impression and experience was very different compared to these ones. I will always remember how kindly I was welcomed in New Zealand : at school by the students and teachers, in my host family and in an indoor soccer team and much more!

I really appreciated the way people took care of me and were so kind with me all the time! Thanks to all of you!

I never thought I could go skiing in August, I did it in New Zealand, that was an awesome moment, I would like to thank the school for bringing me at this ski trip !

There is no doubt that I will keep all these good memories in my mind, the people I met and in New Zealand! Too bad that New Zealand is on the other face of the earth from France. No doubt that I will keep in touch with host my family who welcomed me so well.’