Welcoming Communities

Illustration showing people from various ethnic communities.

Welcoming Communities is a programme that helps councils and communities make our places more friendly and inclusive for everyone. 

The programme recognises that communities are better off through welcoming newcomers, and highlights the positive social, economic and cultural impacts of a diverse District.

We joined the Welcoming Communities programme in 2023. We are now working towards the Committed Welcoming Community accreditation, which will help us take initiatives and promote activities in the wider Whangārei District to welcome newcomers. 

On Friday 17 May 2024, we co-signed the Welcoming Communities Statement of Commitment.

The signing of this document represents a commitment from our Council, hapū, our key multicultural partners, Police and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in working together to promote healthier, happier and more productive communities by welcoming newcomers into the local community.

This marks the completion of Welcoming Communities accreditation Stage 1 — a Committed Welcoming Community.

The Welcoming Communities accreditation model

There are 4 stages of accreditation, each with increasing levels of requirement and benefits:

  • Stage 1 — a Committed Welcoming Community
  • Stage 2 — an Established Welcoming Community
  • Stage 3 — an Advanced Welcoming Community
  • Stage 4 — an Excelling Welcoming Community.

At stage 1 a council must commit to participating in the Welcoming Communities programme and complete an application.

For stages 2 to 4 a council, working with its community, completes an application and a self-assessment workbook. The Welcoming Communities External Accreditation Assessment Panel prepares a detailed report on each application.

Site visits are arranged for Advanced (stage 3) and Excelling (stage 4) accreditation.

About the programme

The Welcoming Communities Programme is a three-year opportunity funded by MBIE - Immigration New Zealand, in partnership with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission.

The initiative brings together local government councils and communities to make the places we love more welcoming for everyone.

It recognises that when newcomers experience a positive welcoming by existing communities, we improve the settlement and integration process for them and in return are actively building and strengthening a cohesive and culturally connected district.

The Welcoming Communities Programme acknowledges the important role of tangata whenua as respected leaders and key collaborators in the development and delivery of the programme.

There are many positive social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits of diversity.

 

Meet Devika, our Welcoming Communities Coordinator

Devika Shukla, our Welcoming Communities coordinator.

Devika is our coordinator for the Welcoming Communities Programme. She says:

Kia ora, I’m Devika.

I’ve lived here in Northland for almost 7 years now and have lived experience of the migration and newcomer process, from when I chose Whangārei as my new home with my family. I’m originally from the eastern part of India, and now am a proud New Zealand citizen.

My parents are originally from the northern part of India and had migrated to the eastern part for a better lifestyle. Since India is extremely diverse, there is difficulty in settlement for regional migrants too.

My upbringing in a diverse community gave me an opportunity to view the world through different lenses. I believe that diversity is empowering for a community. It has immense benefits and a society should be more welcoming towards newcomers so that they can both make the most of it symbiotically and in harmony.

I have a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Calcutta and have worked on several government projects related to language and ethnicity, media translation and a facilitator in my country of origin.

I’m excited to channel my personal and professional experiences into the Welcoming Communities programme.

I will be working on this initiative which includes an outcomes-based accreditation framework, known as the Welcoming Standard, as well as coordinating and supporting our communities to feed into a welcoming plan for our District.