Kiwis are being encouraged to help newcomers settle in Christchurch by welcoming them with a smile and a chat.
The face of Christchurch city is changing as thousands of migrants come to Canterbury from around the world to work on the rebuild and the dairy boom.
In response to this demographic shift, the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce (CECC) has launched a colourful new campaign called 'Start with a Smile', which encourages Kiwis to reach out to new migrants they encounter.
The aim of the project is to nudge Cantabrians towards more frequent and meaningful social exchanges with newcomers to our region, taking into account the changing faces of our region.
The CECC's Chief Executive Peter Townsend said, “The past few years have brought more people to Canterbury from around the world than ever before. Now’s the time for everyday residents to show a welcoming smile and interact with these groups, who are now an integral part of our city."
Small, everyday conversations can help make newcomers feel less alienated from and more engaged with their new communities, whether it’s at work, on the sports field, at the school gate, or waiting in line at the grocery store.
CECC skilled migrant business service advisor Lana Hart said migrants could often find it hard to make new friends in New Zealand.
"Kiwis have a reputation for being friendly, but it's harder to be their friends. Migrants talk about how hard it is to break through and become a part of the fabric of their neighbourhood.
One of the campaign’s core brand features is a couch in the shape of a large smile that, together with two oversized balloons, looks like a smiley face. The ‘Smile Couch’ will move throughout the city from early November, encouraging people to sit down, grab a conversation starter card, and get to know someone from a different background.