Whanganui announced as refugee resettlement area

Published on 07 February 2019

7 February 2018

Today’s announcement that Whanganui is one of five new refugee settlements will make our community more vibrant, says Mayor Hamish McDouall.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced that Whanganui will join Timaru, Blenheim, Masterton and Levin as new settlement locations from March 2020.

The Minister joined Mayor McDouall, the Multicultural Council of Whanganui-Rangitikei and community groups to make the national announcement at Cooks Gardens.

“I am sure these soon-to-be new members of our community will be grateful for a new home but also nervous about what their new life entails. It will be an adventure for the new settlers and our community who will get to know them, however, we know we are ready, especially with the hard work the community and Council has put into the Welcoming Communities programme,” says Mayor McDouall.

The Welcoming Communities plan, which began in May 2018, actively involves locals in welcoming newcomers and lists welcoming actions which will be undertaken to help newcomers belong and contribute to the Whanganui community.

“We welcome all people who choose to make Whanganui their home but being a resettlement city for refugees adds an extra layer of diversity to our community as well as helping people who have been through difficult circumstances.

“It’s hard to imagine firstly living in a country or state with daily conflict, violence or extreme poverty and then being told, ‘New Zealand is your new home’; without knowing much about this new country but the feeling from the launch this morning is that Whanganui is well set up to welcome refugees. There is a commitment to making the transition into New Zealand life as easy as possible.” 

Around three to five families will be settled in Whanganui every eight or so weeks with the nationalities of the refugees yet to be decided. All refugees participate in a comprehensive reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre to prepare them to live and work in the community. 

The Council and members of the community representing social services and church groups worked on an application to the Government for Whanganui to be a resettlement area in 2015, but at that time was not selected.

More information:

Announcement from Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy