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Communities rally to support refugees

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) reaches exciting milestone with community sponsors now allocated to all 150 refugees taking part in the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) extended pilot programme.

9 February 2023
3 minute read

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has reached an exciting milestone with the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) extended pilot programme, with community sponsors allocated to all 150 refugees taking part in the programme.

The Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category was developed to enable community groups in Aotearoa New Zealand to sponsor refugees and support their resettlement. The category was first piloted in 2018, where 24 refugees were resettled in New Zealand with support provided from four approved community organisations. The programme has since been expanded to allow for a total of 150 refugees to be sponsored over three years as part of the extended pilot.

The programme model is based on a core partnership between INZ and an umbrella organisation, HOST Aotearoa New Zealand, who are responsible for supporting community organisations with coaching and training, and helping refugees understand the programme.

Since sponsorship applications opened formally in November 2021, 28 diverse community organisations have been approved as sponsors. The approved sponsors come from 13 different cities and towns across New Zealand and include faith-based organisations, local businesses, ethnic community and refugee-led organisations. We anticipate that all 150 refugee places will be sponsored by the current 28 Approved Sponsors.

Refugee and Migrant Services General Manager Fiona Whiteridge is very excited by the positive response from the community.

“It’s heart-warming to see the level of support from so many different parts of the community,” says Fiona. “These organisations have the networks and connections across the community to support refugees to live fulfilling and meaningful lives in Aotearoa. We appreciate the support from all sponsors who are willing to open their doors to refugees and help make Aotearoa their home.”

“We know that there are many other groups who will be disappointed that all sponsorship positions have been allocated. We strongly encourage them to register their interest with HOST Aotearoa to be kept informed with progress of the programme, and for other ways that they can provide support.”

HOST Aotearoa’s National Programme Manager Birgit Grafarend-Watungwa says it has been a privilege to assist such a wide range of groups through the application process. “They each bring different skills and backgrounds to the programme. We can’t wait to continue building a Community of Practice among these groups."

The successful sponsors have indicated they are looking forward to providing a tangible way to support refugee resettlement.

We have started to receive and process applications from refugees nominated by an approved sponsor or submitted by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). To date we have received applications from refugees in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Zambia. Sponsored refugees will start arriving in New Zealand in 2023.

If you are interested in receiving updates on the programme, or if you’d like to know about other ways to support the programme, please email HOST Aotearoa: