The New Zealand education sector has moved to distance itself from attacks on Indian students in neighbouring Australia, saying they were "totally different societies", a newspaper reported in Wellington on Wednesday.
"What we want to do is to remind education agents in India that New Zealand is a different country from Australia - in the nicest possible way," Robert Stevens, chief executive of Education New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald.
Stevens said he had told the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise office in India to market New Zealand as a totally different country to Australia, which has been dubbed as racist following a series of attacks on Indian students.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd telephoned his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at the weekend to apologise for attacks that have left one student with severe burns and another with stab wounds.
The call coincided with a march in Melbourne that drew more than 1,000 members of the Indian community at which students vented their anger at the attacks and the perceived inadequacies of the police in dealing with them.
New Zealand has nowhere near as many Indian students as Australia - just over 6,000 compared to the 90,000 on the other side of the Tasman Sea - but numbers have doubled over the last three years.
"This could possibly increase the numbers quite drastically," Stevens said. "We are constantly competing with Australia - time will tell if there'll be a surge in numbers."