NZ to launch Welcoming Communities scheme nationwide

New Zealand’s Immigration Minister has stated the aim of the aim of the newly launched Welcoming Communities programme is to create thriving regions and inclusive local communities across the country.

A successful pilot of the scheme has run over the last two years, led by Immigration New Zealand and involving ten councils across five regions and the Office of Ethnic Communities.

The success of the pilot has led to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announcing that the programme will now be rolled out nationwide.

An evaluation of the pilot found:

– Participating councils are taking a more visible leadership role in promoting diversity and inclusion;

– That there was an explicit shift to locals taking a ‘welcoming’ role; and

– That there was a positive change in community awareness of diversity and inclusion.

“Helping newcomers feel welcome and included in the places they have chosen to live is what Welcoming Communities is all about,” said Lees-Galloway. “Welcoming activities enable local residents to connect with newcomers in their communities, including recent migrants, former refugees, international students, and Kiwis from other parts of the country.”

“Evaluation findings show that the programme is starting to deliver economic, social and cultural benefits. That is why it is being rolled out to other parts of the country.

“For newcomers, getting involved and feeling included in a new country can be a challenge.  Making newcomers feel welcome by linking them with locals is a great step. Anything that can ease the process, build understanding and enable everyone to participate in the life of their community and the local economy fully deserves to be supported.”

The Minister added: “We must strive for our communities to be places where everyone feels included, has a sense of belonging and opportunities to succeed. The Welcoming Communities initiative is a vital tool to support this aim. I would urge other councils around the country to get involved.”

Additional councils will be invited to submit expressions of interest in joining the expanded programme later this year.

The Government will allocate over NZ$6.6 million for the programme over the next four years.

Article published 4th October 2019