Embracing newcomers with open hearts

Published on 01 February 2023

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Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is delighted to announce Whangarei District Council among the latest group of councils to join the Welcoming Communities programme.

Five new Councils are joining the Programme, designed to create inclusive environments where all residents can thrive and belong.

"We are grateful for the enthusiasm shown and the desire from Councils around the country to be part of such an important initiative that began five years ago," says Fiona Whiteridge, General Manager of Refugee and Migrant Services INZ.

There are now 31 Councils taking part in the Welcoming Communities programme. Nationally one third of city and district councils are now committed to making their communities more welcoming for everyone.

Whangarei District Council Mayor Vince Cocurullo says he’s hugely supportive of the Welcoming Communities programme.

"Like so many others, my family came to New Zealand from another land. We were welcomed and found our place here. My family’s story is echoed across New Zealand, in small towns, rural communities and cities throughout Aotearoa. It’s important that newcomers are welcomed to Whangārei with open-minded and open-hearted greetings."

"This initiative will reinforce our natural desire to bring together our resident communities, tangata whenua, and those new to Whangārei" says Mayor Cocurullo.

The other four Councils joining the Programme this intake include Kaipara District, Hutt City, Porirua City, and Timaru District. Their involvement follows the eleven Councils that joined the programme in 2022 - Napier City, Rotorua Lakes District, Upper Hutt City, South Wairarapa District, Westland District, Waitaki District, Marlborough District, Hurunui District, Nelson City, Tasman District and Hastings District.

"This programme is an incredibly important tool for building strong and connected communities, for making newcomers, no matter their background, feel included, so everyone can thrive," says Ms Whiteridge.

More on the accreditation programme:

Welcoming Communities supports councils and their communities to create welcoming environments for newcomers, specifically recent migrants, former refugees and international students.

The programme involves local residents in developing, delivering and participating in welcoming activities. This approach increases social engagement and provides opportunities to build social connections.

Immigration New Zealand provides funding, resources, accreditation, best practice information, networking opportunities, programme evaluation and guidance to participating councils.