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Refugee support

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Refugees in Ashburton

Ashburton District is a proudly multicultural district with approximately 18.6% of people who were born outside of Aotearoa New Zealand residing here in the 2018 census.

About 83.8% of people are European/Pākehā, 8.2% Māori, 5.1% Pacific, 7.4% Asian, and 2.3% other ethnicities (people may identify with more than one ethnicity).

Over the last 10 years, there has been a growing migrant community from around the world who has chosen to make Ashburton their home. Ashburton District was selected as a pilot location for the Welcoming Communities programme, led by Immigration NZ, in 2017. The district continues to advance in the programme.

In 2018 the New Zealand Government announced that Ashburton District would join other centres across Aotearoa New Zealand as a refugee resettlement location. We are welcoming the first group of people from the Hazara region of Afghanistan in April 2021, who have had to flee conflict in their home country.

You can read more about the history of resettlement in New Zealand on the New Zealand Red Cross website (link to external website, new window).

The Immigration New Zealand website (link to external website, new window) has more information about refugee resettlement in New Zealand. You can also watch a short video here. [link for EnglishArabic and Dari].

Refugees are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. They have experienced war, persecution, discrimination, racism and oppression, and been forced to flee their homes for nothing more than their ethnicity, religion or beliefs.

Worldwide, there are now over 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their home. Under the refugee quota, New Zealand accepts refugees from all over the world. Many arrive in New Zealand with few to no possessions and have left behind family members, friends, homes, schools and jobs.

Refugee status is granted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To receive this status, people must have left their country of origin and be able to prove it is not safe for them to return home. With their lives disrupted by conflict or persecution, refugees simply seek a safe environment in which they can resettle and freely engage in society.

New Zealand is one of a small number of countries that accept quota refugees referred by the United Nations. New Zealand accepts around 1500 refugees per year.

The UNHCR decides which refugees are in the greatest need of resettlement and asks resettlement countries to consider accepting them. The New Zealand Government then makes the final decision about who will be included in the New Zealand quota and ensures they pass rigorous security screening.

All quota refugees are given permanent resident status upon entering New Zealand. They are no longer refugees and we refer to them as former refugees or people from a refugee background. With permanent residence status, former refugees are eligible for a range of benefits and supplementary allowances on arrival. They enjoy the same rights as any other New Zealand permanent resident in the areas of education, health, employment and social welfare.

The Ashburton District Council supports the lead resettlement agency Safer Mid Canterbury and other agencies who provide resettlement work. The Council is committed to making Ashburton a welcoming place for all. The Council is responsible for facilitating the Ashburton Refugee Steering Group, whose members include community representatives, organisations supporting refugees and government departments.

The arrival of former refugees has encouraged us to think about how we improve the delivery of services, such as health care, to our diverse community. This leads to better outcomes for everyone.

The government has produced a strategy to support those being resettled. You can read the strategy and the goals outlined in it on the New Zealand Immigration website

If you have questions about resettlements please contact Safer Mid Canterbury