Since Dr Lance O'Sullivan last week publicised his offer to take two Kiwi students to the UN forum on indigenous issues in New York, the overwhelming quality of the applications has forced him to accept more.
After securing additional funding for the trip, the 2014 New Zealander of the Year is now taking 12 students with him for the meeting on April 14.
"We started off with the idea of just taking two but we couldn't stick with that because of the calibre and volume of the applications," Dr O'Sullivan said.
After making the announcement of the trip on TVNZ 1's Breakfast, O'Sullivan said his online offer had 167,000 views and over 300 applications within 48 hours.
Auckland University law student Tauawhi Bonilla was one of the 12 selected and says he's particularly interested in gaining insight into how indigenous languages have been rejuvenated around the world.
"For me personally it's probably the language. I know a lot of people will be doing environment and stuff like that but for me it will be language and language revitalisation,"
"Us Maori we have a lot to do to get to where we want to be but eventually we'll get there I think if we take some ideas from other people and from other indigenous cultures."
Dr O'Sullivan said he was encouraged by the diversity of the students he's taking with him to the UN forum.
"What this group of 12 is there's a real spread of ages, backgrounds. Some, they're studying law, linguistics, business and entrepreneurship, and a whole raft of skills," Dr O'Sullivan said.
"This is really exciting so whilst my background is health this is about trying to expose a whole lot of young people to a global organisation and a global community and bring those learnings back to New Zealand."