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Invercargill chosen as new refugee settlement location Monday, 1 May 2017

Invercargill has been selected as a new refugee settlement location following a whole of Government assessment.

The assessment included looking at employment, housing and Government services available alongside the support provided by the local community.

The decision to choose Invercargill was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group - made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

There are currently six settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre - Auckland region, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington region, Nelson and Dunedin.

INZ General Manager Steve McGill says an extra settlement location is needed because of the recent ongoing increase to the Quota and the decreasing proportion of refugee families settled in Auckland, meaning that only those quota refugees who have relatives already living in the region are settled there.

Invercargill was considered alongside Christchurch, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Tauranga.

Mr McGill says all the locations had the strengths and potential to be a settlement location but Invercargill edged out the others because of the broad range of employment opportunities in the area.

“Invercargill also has a strong set of services and is a well-connected city where a number of government agencies have a presence,” he says. “Suitable housing is available and there is excellent support from the community.”

Mr McGill says details are still being worked out, but it is expected that the first group of refugees will arrive in Invercargill later this year.

The settlement of refugees in Christchurch was suspended - except for a limited number of family-linked cases - following the September 2010 earthquake due to the impact on services such as health and housing. But Mr McGill says he expects refugees to be resettled in the city in the future.

“Christchurch will continue to be under review for a resettlement location but we felt that at the moment there are still some infrastructure issues which would make it difficult to resettle large number of refugees. We’re confident that as the rebuild continues to progress further Christchurch will once again be a settlement location.”

Notes to editors

Quota refugees are given permanent residence on arrival in New Zealand and spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.  While there, they complete a reception programme to support living and working in New Zealand and English language. They also complete medical and mental health assessments.

NZ Red Cross is contracted by INZ to provide settlement support in the community over the first 12 months. This includes an orientation programme and connecting refugees to services they require such as doctor’s appointments, English language, education and employment.


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