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

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 July, 2010

News & Issues

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming NZ Diversity Forum, to be held from 21-23 August at the Christchurch Convention Centre. The forum will include a number of sessions directly relevant to the refugee sector.

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On Monday from 11.00am -12.30pm Hagley College is hosting "Refugees: Learning Initiatives at Hagley College".

Also on Monday, from 1.30pm-3.00pm, the New Zealand National Refugee Network is running the "Refugee Agenda: Nothing About Us Without Us" session.

There are a range of other forums you can attend; check out the programme for more details. Register online NOW.

Unsung Hero winner

Yvonne Ennion, a Hamilton volunteer who has spent the past 20 years helping refugees, is one of five winners of the New Zealand Herald P&O Cruises’ Unsung Heroes competition. Yvonne won a well-deserved P&O Cruises’ South Pacific voyage for two.

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Yvonne runs classes four times a week where former refugees from Somali, Djibouti, Afghan, Iraqi and Congolese communities can practise their English and study aspects of NZ culture, including learning Kiwi recipes and how the local health system works.

She also provides daily support to Congolese grandmother Henriette Ekuchu and her grandson Elie. "I can get called at any hour of the night from [Elie]", said Yvonne. "I've been rung up at 10.00pm to help him with his homework. I feel it's quite a privilege in that respect, because he needs someone that he can ring up and feel free to do so."

You can read about the other Unsung Hero winners online.

New Zealanders can show their support for people from refugee backgrounds who are resettling in Aotearoa by becoming a fan of the new facebook page “I support refugee resettlement in NZ”.

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Co-launched by English Language Partners New Zealand and ChangeMakers Refugee Forum, supporters can find out about new initiatives and events, and post their own comments, photos and links on the page.

"There are a myriad of volunteers working to help people to settle in - either through our organisation, or through other initiatives. Some are also from refugee backgrounds themselves and keen to give back to their communities," says Claire Szabo, Chief Executive of English Language Partners New Zealand.

Become a fan today of "I support refugee resettlement in NZ".

Immigration New Zealand marked World Refugee Day on 20 June with a tree-planting event and the launch of a commemorative booklet on the history of the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC).

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Over 20,000 UNHCR mandated ("Quota") refugees have been accepted for resettlement in New Zealand since 1979. Mangere - First Steps to a New Future chronicles the history of the Mangere centre from when it first became an immigration hostel in 1953, and includes reflections from 13 former residents, along with a brief history of quota refugee resettlement in New Zealand.

The launch event was attended by approximately 120 people including the Minister of Immigration, the Hon Dr Jonathon Coleman, other MPs, refugee community members, MRRC staff and representatives from government and non-government agencies in the refugee field.

Following a welcome and the launch of the commemorative booklet, the Minister of Immigration spoke about the importance of the Refugee Quota Programme and praised the work done at MRRC. The Minister then participated in the planting of a commemorative kauri tree and was joined in this by former refugees, many of whom had passed through the MRRC over the years.

Email the Department of Labour Media Centre for more information.

The current issue of Forced Migration Review (FMR), “Disability and Displacement”, features a range of articles, including “New Zealand: beyond the quota” by Rowan Saker (Department of Labour) and “Early Engagement” by Celia Brandon (Refugee Services Aotearoa New Zealand) and Candy Smith (CCS Disability Action).

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Saker's article traces NZ's tradition of including refugees with disabilities in its refugee settlement quota. Today the quota includes the Women at Risk and Medical/Disabled sub-categories. International conventions and domestic law frameworks, such as the NZ Settlement Strategy, are also referenced.

Brandon and Smith's piece examines the nuts and bolts of support for refugees with disabilities upon and after arrival. Issues such as transition permits and access to appropriate interpreters are addressed. The article includes learnings and recommendations for effective support.

The publication is available to read online or you can email for printed copies.

Below are the numbers, nationalities and country of first refuge of UNHCR mandated refugees accepted for resettlement in New Zealand under the 2009-2010 Refugee Quota Programme, administered by the Refugee Quota Branch of the Department of Labour.

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Country of Origin

  • Afghanistan (55)
  • Burundi (36)
  • Bhutan (176)
  • Columbia (71)
  • Congo (5)
  • D R Congo (63)
  • Ecuador (7)
  • Eritrea (23)
  • Ethiopia (30)
  • Iran (12)
  • Iraq (36)
  • Myanmar (126)
  • Nepal (6)
  • Palestine (16)
  • Rwanda (8)
  • Somalia (5)
  • Sri Lanka (13)
  • Sudan (21)
  • Total (709)

Country of Refuge

  • Afghanistan (27)
  • Azerbaijan (1)
  • Bangladesh (22)
  • Cambodia (0)
  • Cameroon (0)
  • Congo (2)
  • D R Congo (3)
  • Ecuador (78)
  • Ethiopia (5)
  • Great Britain (1)
  • India (7)
  • Indonesia (1)
  • Iran (0)
  • Iraq (19)
  • Jordan (1)
  • Kenya (22)
  • Malaysia (54)
  • Nambia (3)
  • Nepal (176)
  • Pakistan (6)
  • Philippines (7)
  • Sudan (44)
  • Syria (40)
  • Tajikistan (15)
  • Tanzania (28)
  • Thailand (62)
  • Turkey (1)
  • Uganda (84)
  • Total (709)

The following is a summary of refugee claims received and decisions made on asylum seekers in New Zealand for the 2009-2010 financial year by the Refugee Status Branch (RSB) of the Department of Labour.

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Refugee status claims received

June saw 43 refugee claims lodged with the RSB by asylum seekers making a year end total of 382 claims lodged - an average of 31.8 per month. Last financial year's claims averaged 20.5 per month (246 in total), so there has been a significant increase in asylum claims this year.

The 43 claims received in June were comprised of people of 15 nationalities: Fiji (10), Saudi Arabia (6), Iran (5), Czech Republic (4), South Africa (4), Zimbabwe (3), Iraq (2), Sri Lanka (2), and one each from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Ethiopia, Hungary and Syria.

Overall, in this financial year, people of 51 nationalities have sought asylum. The top 15 nationalities are below:

Number of claims

  • Fiji (57)
  • Sri Lanka (34)
  • Iran (30)
  • China (25)
  • India (24)
  • Iraq (24)
  • Czech Republic (22)
  • Pakistan (18)
  • South Africa (18)
  • Slovakia (16)
  • Saudi Arabia (11)
  • Zimbabwe (11)
  • Egypt (9)
  • Bangladesh (7)
  • Brazil (7)
  • Others (69)
  • Total (382)


June saw 51 refugee claims decided by the Refugee Status Branch, of which 10 were approved. This makes the overall approval rate for 2009-2010 27.2% compared with last financial year's 29.8%.

People from the following nationalities were approved; China (Falun Gong and a Uigher), Iraq (two Christians), Pakistan (domestic violence and an Ahmadi), and one each from Cameroon (political activist), Egypt (status of women), Saudi Arabia (status of women) and Somalia (minority clan).

People from the following nationalities were declined; China (5), Czech Republic (5), Fiji (4), Slovakia (4), South Africa (4), Sri Lanka (4), Iran (3), Turkey (3), Lithuania (2), and one each from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kiribati, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

CALD Project is expanding

The Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Project (CALD) is moving to include the Special Education sector in its national training programme.

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Developed by Peter Shaw, Ministry of Education (MOE) psychologist, the CALD resource will provide country and ethnic specific information for major refugee populations. It will be trialled in the MOE - Group Special Education (GSE) Auckland office this year.

The CALD programme is also expanding to social service providers in the NGO sector.

The Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ) CALD Training Development Project is supported by Te Pou: New Zealand's National Centre of Mental Health Research, Information and Workforce Development, in collaboration with the Waitemata DH B.

Qantas Media Award

Christchurch freelance journalist Amanda Cropp has won best human relations story in the magazine category of the Qantas Media Awards for her article “No Refuge”.

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Amanda's research was conducted with the support of a media grant awarded by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

You can read "No refuge" online.

ChangeMakers Refugee Forum has launched a wikispace for those working with refugee background young people. The site is aimed at government, non-government organisations, youth workers, social workers, health and education professionals and community agencies.

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The resource includes sections on "Best Practice", "Education" and "Law and Immigration". Participants can join, add content and take part in discussions.

Adam Awad, of the New Zealand Refugee Network, gave a speech on World Refugee Day in Auckland.

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You can read a full transcript of the speech online.

Farewell from Josephine Savage

Kia ora koutou. This is my last month of writing Te Punanga, as I am leaving my role at the Commission. It has been really great to work with you all, and to be up to speed on the many exciting initiatives happening in the sector.

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Zheela Vokes, who has recently returned to the Commission's Christchurch office, after parental leave, will resume editorship of the newsletter from next month. Please email all your news and events to Zheela.

Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou, Josephine.

The first meeting of the New Settler Water Safety Reference Group will convene on Friday 6 August, hosted by WaterSafe Auckland. Aquatic partners, community organisations and individuals who work with refugees and new migrants are encouraged to attend to share their expertise and resources.

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The group hopes to share ideas that will assist these communities in becoming safer in, on and around the water.

Date: Friday 6 August
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Venue: WaterSafe Auckland, 3 Arawa St, Grafton

To register your interest email Stacey Willcox (Ph: 09 306 0809) or visit the WaterSafe Auckland website for more information.

Future Events

On 28 July at 11am, Cities of Migration is hosting a webinar featuring Dr. Arif Saeid, Community Service Manager, Refugees as Survivors, New Zealand.

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In Wellington on Saturday 31 July, Children on the Edge will be helping to raise money for the refugee children of Burma by hosting their annual “Dames, Dolls and Gents” Casino Night.

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In Auckland on Wednesday 11 August, all are welcome to hear guest speaker Jay Marlowe discuss “Responding to Trauma from Forced Migration and Resettlement: Rethinking Perspectives on Sudanese Refugees”.

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In Wellington on Wednesday 4 August ChangeMakers will present the Fit for Funding Forum, a chance for anyone wanting to raise money for their organisation to get some free, practical advice.

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Over the next month Auckland Regional Migrant Services Charitable Trust (ARMS) are hosting a number of free Settlement Information Workshops for newly arrived migrants and refugees. Workshops include:

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On Friday 23 July, the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector (OCVS) is conducting a free seminar, “Meaningful and Authentic Engagement with Ethnic Communities”.

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