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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Punanga: Refugee Focus > 2010 > February

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 February, 2010

News & Issues

Race Relations Day Facebook page

The Human Rights Commission is using Facebook to get discussions going ahead of Race Relations Day next month with a special Facebook page dedicated to Race Relations Day. The interactive page is also a way to encourage people to post and share information about upcoming events to celebrate Race Relations Day.

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Those who have something to contribute or say about race relations in New Zealand can visit the Facebook page. Over 1800 people have signed up to the page since it was opened three weeks ago.

The Facebook page is proving a place of debate and fun. The Commission has set up a contest for fans of the page to contribute their photographs that best illustrate cultural diversity in New Zealand. The winning photograph will be turned into a Race Relations Day postcard.

Asylum Forum, December 2009

The Refugee Status Branch held another Asylum Forum on Tuesday 8 December 2009 at the Fickling Centre, Mt Roskill. The summary below was provided by the Refugee Status Branch, Department of Labour.

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The forum was attended by a number of Immigration staff, staff from other government departments, refugee advocate groups, refugee lawyers, the UNHCR, IOM and Human Rights Commission, as well as asylum seekers and refugees. The purpose of the Asylum Forum is to provide a specific focus on Asylum Seekers and covers matters relating to Convention Refugees, pre and post determination until residence or removal. It is an opportunity for consultation between Government, non-government organisations, UNHCR, refugees and the wider community. The presentations covered

  • changes under the new Immigration Act
  • the UNHCR priorities and constraints
  • the process and decision making fordetaining asylum seekers
  • the Immigration Profiling Group and their processing of residence for approved asylum seekers
  • Work and Income entitlements
  • Housing New Zealand entitlements
  • the Immigration Advisors Authority's role and responsibilities.

Feedback from those who attended highlighted that they enjoyed the day with lots of discussion but that it was a very full agenda. If you would like more comprehensive details email Geraldine Tew.

In an international first, the Department of Labour’s International Migration, Settlement and Employment Dynamics Research Team (IMSED Research) has begun a study of the long-term settlement experiences of people arriving in NZ through the Refugee Quota Category between 1993 and 1999.

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The study is intended to give a better understanding of what helps people from refugee backgrounds to settle well in the long term, and to make decisions about future service provision and policies about refugee resettlement.

The interviewers come from diverse backgrounds and speak a number of different languages; some have been refugees themselves. Vasantha Krishnan, Manager of IMSED Research emphasises "What you tell us will be in confidence- only the person who interviews you and a small group of researchers in IMSED Research will know what you have said. Your name will not be used and no one from the government or any other organisation will know what you have said. The information we gather will be kept in a secure place."

People who arrived between 1993 and 1999 as part of the Refugee Quota Programme are encouraged to share their stories. The questions will include topics such as:

  • finding work
  • going to school or training courses
  • learning English
  • friendships
  • citizenship
  • sense of belonging in NZ
  • experiences of discrimination.

As it is the first research of its kind, the findings will be useful both in NZ and in other countries that resettle refugees. If you would like to participate you can call 0800 147 258 or email the research group.

The Department of Labour has just released a report entitled ‘Quota Refugees in New Zealand: Approvals and Movements (1999- 2008)’.

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Published by IMSED Research the report summarises quota refugee approvals in NZ and then examines the subsequent movement patterns of quota refugees to understand their mobility.

From 1999- 2008, a total of 7,843 people from 56 countries were approved for NZ residence through the Quota Refugee Programme. These people came under the International/ Humanitarian Stream of the NZ Residence Programme, which allows for the settlement of 750 refugees annually.

Between 1999 and 2008, the largest number of quota refugees came from:

  • Afghanistan (17 percent)
  • Myanmar (16 percent)
  • Iraq (13 percent).

In terms of age:

  • 60 percent of the quota refugee population was under 25 years of age
  • 14 percent was aged over forty years.

In terms of gender:

  • 53 percent of the population was male.

You can download a copy of the full report. Contact IMSED Research or visit their website for more information.

January 2010 intake

The January 2010 refugee quota intake of UNHCR mandated refugees are currently completing the six week orientation programme at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. The January 2010 intake consists of 123 refugees, predominantly from Bhutan and Colombia.

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On Friday 26 February, the refugees will depart the Resettlement Centre and be settled in their new homes in Hamilton, the Wellington region, Palmerston North, Nelson and Christchurch. A small number of the intake with existing family connections in Auckland will be housed in the Auckland region.

A total of 506 refugees have been resettled to New Zealand under the 2009/2010 refugee quota programme to date. The March and May 2010 intakes will also predominantly consist of refugees from Bhutan and Colombia, with a small number of Palestinians from the Al-Walid camp on Iraq /Syria border.

Refugee Status Claims: January

January saw 32 refugee claims lodged with the RSB by asylum seekers. In this financial year to date there have been 242 claims lodged, averaging 34.6 claims per month: those claims for asylum were lodged by people of 43 different nationalities. Last financial year there were 246 claims in total, averaging 20.5 per month.

The 32 claims lodged in January comprised people of 16 different nationalities:

  • Fiji (6 people)
  • Iran (4 people)
  • Sri Lanka (4 people)
  • Iraq (2 people)
  • Lithuania (2 people)
  • Samoa (2 people)
  • Saudi Arabia (2 people)
  • Zimbabwe (2 people)
  • Bangladesh (1person)
  • Cameroon (1 person)
  • China (1 person)
  • Mexico (1 person)
  • Philippines (1 person)
  • Rwanda (1 person)
  • South Korea (1 person)
  • Yemen (1 person).


January saw 44 refugee claims decided by the RSB. Of those, 10 were approved. This makes the approval rate for the 2009-2010 period 23.6% compared with last financial year's 29.8%. The nationalities approved and nature of claims were:

  • China (4 people) Falun Gong
  • Madagascar (4 people) political profile
  • Iran (2 people) dissident.

The nationalities declined were:

  • Fiji (9 people)
  • Egypt (5 people)
  • Brazil (4 people)
  • Pakistan (4 people)
  • Colombia (3 people)
  • Iran (3 people)
  • Sri Lanka (3 people)
  • Algeria (1person)
  • South Africa (1person)
  • South Korea (1person).

These updates are provided to Te Punanga by the Refugee Quota Branch and the Refugee Status Branch of the Refugee Division of Department of Labour.

Mixing Room- blog online

The Mixing Room is a multimedia project in which young former refugees tell their stories through different mediums, including writing, film and photography.

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The Mixing Room project team and young people have created a blog to showcase some of their work running up to the opening of a new refugee-focused exhibition at Te Papa on April 10. Watch the music video 'Belong' created in the Palmerston North workshop.

Southern Corridor Project Update

The Southern Corridor Project is an arts initiative working with Somali and Māori communities in South Wellington.

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The project is now part way though the beginning phase of the project 'Community Engagement', and a number of events and activities have taken place to date. So far there have been:

  • events with three schools in the area
  • individual meetings with community leaders
  • a joint hui
  • disposable cameras sent out to varied community members
  • mentoring in professional and community arts
  • lots of dreams, planning and exchange.

In December last year one of the events was held at Wellington East Girls College. Students from all refugee nations were invited to join alongside students of Māori descent and participated in mural making, a welcome, shared food, performance and discussion.

Cultural Advisor Mihaere Kirby speaks of the role of 'Manaaki' or hosting that Māori as the indigenous people of New Zealand can embrace if given the opportunity to exchange with refugee communities. This message is reinforced by other Māori leaders in the region. Eko Theatre seeks to give these opportunities. The themes at the heart of the project include identity and landscape within arts based activities, which allow young and old to have their voices heard and respected.

Minority Voices- available on DVD

The Minority Voices series has now finished screening on TVNZ, but you can order DVD copies of the series from Butobase Productions.

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The series included ten episodes, profiling a range of migrants and refugees with the intention of giving "new New Zealanders an opportunity to introduce themselves by sharing with wider Aotearoa their personal experiences settling here- in their own words."

Welcome Packs for former refugees

Pippins, Brownies, Guides and Rangers of Girl Guides in the Wellington region have been working on a project to create Welcome Packs for refugees arriving in New Zealand.

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The project is both a way to increase awareness among the Guiding NZ community about diversity and refugee experiences, and to encourage girls from minority communities to join Guiding NZ when they have settled into their new homes. The packs include basic toiletry items, such as soap, flannels and hairbrushes. Other Wellington units have been knitting blankets, growing vegetable seedlings, making toy boxes, creating alphabet learning cards and word charts, and putting together pencil cases to add to the welcome packs.

The project has complemented Guiding NZ badges that girls can complete, such as the 'Walk a mile in another girl's shoes' badge. The District Support Leader in the Wellington region says "It has been a wonderful practical learning experience for girls to find out more about different cultural practices to our own and to appreciate the life experiences that some children have to endure who are often the same age as them."

Job Opportunities

Eko Theatre is looking for three emerging actors, Changemakers Refugee Forum has a vacancy for the position of research advocate, and the Wellington Somali Council is looking for a community worker.

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Eko Theatre is seeking three emerging actors to be part of making a theatrical work. You will be working alongside an experienced team and professional actors. They are especially looking for someone from the Wellington Refugee communities. Please email Lisa at Eko Theatre for more information.

Changemakers Refugee Forum has a part-time job for a research advocate, starting at the end of March. Contact Alia, Karla or Annie on 801 5812 with any questions. You can email Changemakers Refugee Forum to request a job description or download it from their website (applications close on 1 March).

The Wellington Somali Council is looking for a Community Worker. Contact Diane Garrett (04 380-2452) for more information or an application form (applications close midday 26th February).