Settlement ACTIONZ — Issue 15 May 2019

Settlement ACTIONZ — Issue 15 May 2019

First words

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a community to welcome a newcomer.

In this issue of Settlement ACTIONZ we visit one of those communities. In Tauranga we talk to the staff of Priority One, an economic development agency working to attract the skilled workers who power the local economy’s needs; to the President of the local Multicultural Council, which runs weekly coffee meetings, English conversation classes and the annual Multicultural Festival; to Canadian-born Kurt Cordice who is working to make migrants watersafe; to the local Welcoming Communities co-ordinator; and to the Chair of the Tauranga Citizens Advice Bureau.

And, if space and time allowed, we could have talked to many others who play a vital role in welcoming newcomers and helping them settle. The staff of English Language Partners, for example, or employers like engineering consultancy Beca, whose workforce is a United Nations in miniature, or the teachers and parents who make Tauranga such a welcoming environment for international students.

These people are representative of the Bay of Plenty community and of the overwhelming mass of New Zealanders. They are hospitable, fair-minded and decent.

It will be hard to forget the atrocity that took place in Christchurch or the sustained and continuing impact that the shootings have had on the victims and their families.

But, like most New Zealanders, I am proud of the way in which we as a nation came together to reject the ideology that fuelled that act of terrorism.

In Tauranga hundreds of people gathered on Mt Maunganui beach to mount a vigil, services were held in churches, the Sikh temple and the Tauranga Mosque, and, although delayed by a week, the annual Multicultural Festival went ahead as it has for the past nineteen years.

In Christchurch the fence outside the Botanic Gardens was buried by floral tributes.

Here in Wellington thousands of people gathered for a vigil at the Basin Reserve cricket ground.

Everywhere, people came together to mourn, pay respect, and also, along the way, to ask each other some hard questions. Questions like ‘How could such a thing happen here?’ and ‘Do we really understand what life is like for newcomers to New Zealand?’

If we can bring together that goodwill and that willingness to be clear-eyed about how we can lift our game, then perhaps we will look back and say that the Christchurch tragedy helped make us a better nation.

He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

Steve McGill
General Manager, Settlement, Protection & Attraction
Immigration New Zealand

Tauranga’s community unites

Tauranga Imam Ahmed Ghoneim was born in Egypt, a land of many religions. “We grew up hearing both the voice of the Azan, the Islamic call for prayer, and church bells,” he recalls.

“On Friday, people would walk into the mosque in groups, leaving their shops open, and one of the Christian neighbours would put his seat out on the street to look out for all the shops. The same thing would happen when the Christians attended church on Sunday: Muslims would look out for their businesses.”

In Tauranga, where Ahmed arrived to work as a mechanic (his other occupation), he found a similar openness. For a time, the Muslim community rented a hall from St George’s Anglican Church in Gate Pa for Friday prayers.

“After a time they said, Ahmed, this is a key for the church. You can come, open the door and switch the alarm off and when you have finished prayers, just put it back to the way it was.”

Eventually, Ahmed and his community decided they needed their own mosque, choosing to buy a former church.

“The owners said they hoped we would be the successful bidder and keep it as a place of worship.”

Ahmed was taking a break after Friday prayers when he heard the devastating news that Muslim worshippers had been shot and killed while at prayer in two Christchurch mosques.

It was, he told TV1 news following a packed Interfaith service at Tauranga’s Holy Trinity Church, the worst day in his 20 years in New Zealand.

“Normally I have a smile on my face 24/7, but on this day I could not smile any more.”

When you start saying this is a white person’s country, this is a dark person’s country, this is a Christian country, this is a Muslim country, this is a Jewish country, you divide the nation. A country with love should embrace all religions, all colours. We all came from Adam and Eve – you, me, him – we all came from the same mother and father.

Imam Ahmed Ghoneim

Tauranga’s Muslim community is small but highly connected. Ahmed had visited the Hagley Mosque and a number of his friends knew victims and their families.

Exactly one week after the Christchurch shootings, hundreds of people of all faiths packed out the Tauranga Mosque and its grounds in community-wide solidarity to observe two minutes of silence and hear the call to prayer. MPs, community leaders, students, gang members, teachers, parents, children: the gathering was a cross-section of Tauranga.

Ahmed takes pride in the Tauranga Mosque always being open to all. On the Friday of the shooting, the doors of the Mosque were briefly closed; they have been open ever since.

Welcome news from Welcoming Communities

Many communities provide services for newcomers without realising how much they are doing, says Jim Datson, a member of the governing committee for Welcoming Communities in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

“The moment we started consulting about what should be in the Welcoming Communities Action Plan for Tauranga, all these things came bubbling up to the surface. People were saying, I didn’t know we were doing this, and perhaps we should be doing that.”

Community Development Advisor: Welcoming Communities Haidee Kalirai (pictured above) agrees. “The plan has raised awareness and helped people understand how important newcomers and migrants are to our sub-region.”

Directly or indirectly, Welcoming Communities has led to a number of firsts.

2018, the year after Welcoming Communities launched, was the first year the local libraries ran language weeks (other than Māori Language Week) and Haidee says that the libraries are adding to their foreign language adult fiction sections and introducing more multilingual signage.

It was the first year for the Tauranga Bay of Plenty Migrant Expo and for the Tauranga Turban Day, which is run by the local Sikh Community.

Similarly, 2019 will be the first time the rural town of Katikati, with its migrant-dependent horticulture industry, runs a multicultural festival.

The way people think about newcomers and migrants is changing, says Haidee. 

“People know that organisations like the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Tauranga City Council are there to support and strengthen the community, and that diversity and inclusion are part of the mix. We are becoming more deliberate about how we act.”

Welcoming Communities is a pilot programme led by Immigration New Zealand which is intended “to make the places we love more welcoming to everyone”.

To find out more visit:

Welcoming Communities


Five regions are members of the pilot Welcoming Communities programme.

  • Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty (Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council)
  • Southland (Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Environment Southland – coordinated through Venture Southland) 
  • Whanganui (Whanganui District Council)
  • Palmerston North (Palmerston North City Council)
  • Canterbury (represented by the Ashburton and Selwyn District Councils)

A place where talent wants to live

Priority One, the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region’s economic development organisation, has set out to attract high-value businesses and skilled workers to Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

Greg Simmonds (pictured above), the Chief Operating Officer of Tauranga’s economic development agency Priority One, is bullish about the prospects for his city.

“Over the next 30 years, it is projected that 40,000 jobs will be created in the city, and at the moment we are growing jobs at a faster rate than population growth.”

Drive from the airport to Mount Maunganui, and it looks like he – and the economists and demographers – have it right. The new suburbs, the stacks of containers awaiting shipment, the gleaming new Waikato University campus, the people at leisure on the beach, the well-populated cafés and restaurants – the place feels prosperous and on the move.

What is happening here? What factors have transformed this once sleepy provincial city of lifestylers and retirees into something more?

The climate, the beaches, the port, the availability of land, the proximity to Auckland – increasingly crowded and expensive Auckland – and Hamilton must all be on the list, and then there is that extra something: Priority One.

In the late 1990s a number of Tauranga’s established businesses decided to create an agency to promote the Western Bay of Plenty as a place to do business.

The model they chose came from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a business-drive agency called Priority One had been set up to combat the loss of manufacturing jobs.

 So impressed were Tauranga’s business leaders that they didn’t just decide to follow the model, they also adopted the name.

Tauranga’s own Priority One was launched in 2001. At first it was funded and governed entirely by its business members. Later the Western Bay of Plenty and the Tauranga City Council became partners. Even so, Priority One still displays its heritage, says Greg.

 “We are very nimble: if something is a good idea we can just do it. And we have a great board, a strategic board: they don’t get involved in operational stuff at all.”

Recent good ideas include the newly-formed research institute PlantTech. PlantTech’s founders include eight companies (Bluelab, Cucumber, GPS-It, Eurofins, Plus Group Horticulture, Trimax Mowing Systems, Waka Digital and Zespri International) the University of Waikato, and Priority One.

PlantTech is representative of the high-tech high-wage economy Priority One wants to build.

“We are also looking at doing something with marine biotechnologies,” says Greg.

Tauranga has a strong start-up community, says Greg, and venture capital is available locally from Enterprise Angels, Oriens Capital and WNT Ventures.

Priority One has also helped businesses to relocate to the Bay.

Upper Hutt transplant Brother International arrived in Tauranga in 2015, eventually taking up occupancy of a $10 million head office and warehouse. The move made good business sense for Brother: it was cheaper to build in Tauranga, the cost of freight was lower, and suddenly 60 per cent of Brother’s customer base was within a two-hour drive.

Just as importantly, all but one of Brother’s staff chose to relocate.

“Our chief executive went down to Wellington three or four times and talked to the staff, and some of them flew up for a weekend to see what it was like,” remembers Annie Hill, Priority One’s Communications Manager.

Innovative high-value businesses and skilled workers are two sides of the same coin, says Greg. Skilled workers want to work for innovative businesses, and innovative businesses want to base themselves where skilled workers live. Tauranga needs both.

“When we last surveyed our members, 48 per cent identified access to skilled labour as their biggest challenge.”

Some of that skilled labour is available domestically; some comes from overseas.

Priority One first began working to attract skilled overseas workers by attending UK job fairs, says Annie Hill.

“Between 2003 and 2007 we helped about 400 people on a one-to-one basis,” she says – and it is likely that some of the people they talked to migrated independently.

Then came the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and it wasn’t until 2012 that Priority One resumed its talent attraction programme.

The emphasis shifted online. An international web-based job portal proved ineffective, but Priority One’s own attraction website ‘Wish you were working here’ was more useful and continues, complemented by the use of social media.

‘Wish you were working here’ has great first-person stories from people who are delighted to be here,” says Annie.

However, Priority One’s greatest asset could be Annie herself, who liaises between business and would-be employees.

Every month 40 or more CVs arrive on her desk. They come from people who are keen to work in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, and for each one she crafts a tightly-written summary.

“It sets out what the person’s experience and qualifications are and what they are looking for.”

Creating the summaries is not always easy. “I see some CVs, and it’s oh-my-gosh. I have even been sent a 50-page CV. Sometimes it is hard to know what a person is looking for.”

Every 10 days, the collected summaries are sent out to Priority One’s business members.

“We have people that have got jobs, who have previously applied and not made it to interview.”

Sometimes, two or three of those 40-or-so CV summaries will result in jobs; sometimes it will be seven or eight.

On rare occasions, Annie will function as a matchmaker between an individual job seeker and an employer.

“I had a highly-skilled Australian engineering graduate who had decided Tauranga was the most innovative region in New Zealand and I happened to know of a company that was a great fit, so I contacted them directly.

“There is nothing better than knowing you have helped someone into a cool job.”

Tauranga is growing fast and, as it does, the job market is maturing.  The business community is more diverse and requires a greater range of skills.

“We see firms advertising for innovation managers. That job description wouldn’t have existed in Tauranga five or six years ago.”

Over the last few years Tauranga’s economy has undergone a significant transformation, with an increase in businesses moving to the city, a rise in new start-up companies and strong job growth, resulting in the diversification of key employment sectors.  Of more importance, however, is the strong growth of knowledge-intensive businesses in the city, which are increasing at more than twice the rate of the New Zealand average.

Greg Simmonds says:“Tauranga is increasingly becoming a hub for entrepreneurs and innovative companies.  This is underpinned by strong capital networks and investment in research and development across the agritech, marine biotech and logistics sectors.  The Government has invested in a new technology incubator and a multi-million-dollar research institute focusing on world-class research into plant-based growing systems, specifically in the field of artificial intelligence.”

In addition, the new University of Waikato-led tertiary and research campus has recently been completed, providing step change for the future of Tauranga.  Plans are also underway to develop a purpose-built facility for the university’s Coastal Marine Field Station at Sulphur Point, positioning the region as a major international centre for marine-based research for pharmaceutical and agrichemical innovation.

Priority 1 website

Student city

A booming international education sector is another ingredient in Tauranga’s multicultural mix.

From their office alongside Priority One, Regional Manager Anne Young and Project Coordinator Melissa Gillingham of Education Tauranga work with 43 organisations, from primary schools through to tertiary institutions and including English Language Schools.

Education Tauranga

“We have just over 2,800 full-time international students, and we take in another 500 over the period July through to September,” says Anne (pictured above).

Different nationalities choose Tauranga for different reasons, says Melissa. “Brazilians love Mount Maunganui with its gorgeous beach. Germans are attracted by the opportunity to experience the outdoors.” Others are primarily attracted by the quality of education. Tauranga is a sought-after location for teachers, and the competition for jobs is fierce.

In earlier years, an influx of students came from Korea, and as a part consequence, Tauranga’s Korean population is second only to that of Auckland. Tauranga enjoys a good reputation in the Korean market.

“We have a policy of placing just one international student per class from each culture. Generally at primary school, most of our students are Koreans. I think they like that sense of being special rather than being one Korean student among many,” says Melissa.

Often the children are accompanied by family members, adding to Tauranga’s diversity.

Over the years, says Anne, the entire community has come on board with supporting international education and giving students the best experience possible.

In late March, Tauranga recognises the importance of international education by holding an official welcome. This year 770 students from 25 countries took part, welcomed by Mayor Greg Brownless, who summed up Tauranga’s attraction: a quality education in a safe, affordable, beautiful, clean environment.

The latest education development is the opening of a new $55 million Waikato University campus, which is predicted to eventually attract about 1,500 full-time equivalent students.

“With the new campus, I think our lifestyle will be very attractive to many university students,” says Anne. “We just hosted a visit by 50 Chinese students from Hamilton, and they were like, this is the place we want to study.”

Answering the call

At the Tauranga Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a wooden prefab building just up the hill from the Tauranga Library, four volunteers are at the phones when Janet Freeman arrives on her motorbike, wearing a fluoro vest and wet weather gear.

In August 2018, Janet, a long-time volunteer, became the Chair of Tauranga CAB. “And so far it has been fun,” she says with a laugh, her accent still intact after three decades in New Zealand.

“We emigrated to Napier from England back in 1987, then in ’93 we moved to Tauranga, but you wouldn’t know it from my voice.”

The Tauranga CAB is one of 30 CABs around New Zealand that are contracted by Immigration New Zealand to provide Migrant Connect, a settlement information service.

In 2017-2018, Migrant Connect received more than 5000 migration-related enquiries nationwide and ran more than 100 information workshops, with topics such as navigating the local job market and New Zealand culture proving popular.

Janet came to New Zealand as an occupational therapist, an occupation which, she says, shares values with the CAB work culture.

“Occupational therapists want to facilitate, want to empower, want to give choices; they are very inclusive.”

As for the run of general enquiries the CAB deals with: “A lot of them are about neighbours, about noise, about parties, about fences in the right or wrong places, or cats coming into the garden. Or someone has found an injured penguin on the beach and wants to know what to do,”says Janet.

The details of every enquiry are logged via computer: the nature of the enquiry, the volunteer who answered it, and where the information was sourced.

The CAB has strong links with Multicultural Tauranga and many of the local ethnic communities. It has good word-of-mouth recognition, and it uses radio advertising to good effect. Justice of the Peace services bring many migrants in touch with the CAB, and its immigration workshops are well attended.

Nonetheless, she says it is difficult to reach the partners and parents of migrants, who may not speak English as a first language.

For many of the enquiries fielded by the CAB the final outcome is unknown. But Janet treasures the exceptions. There was a successfully resolved consumer dispute about the purchase of a greenhouse; the long lost-brother reunited with his family; and the woman who rang at the end of Janet’s first day as a volunteer.

“I don’t think she spoke English as a first language, and she couldn’t get her oven to work. I told her to switch it off at the wall and wait five minutes before turning it on, and lo and behold, it worked.”

Waterproofing the Bay

Working alongside agencies like Water Safety New Zealand, Canadian-born Kurt Cordice is bringing water safety awareness to Bay of Plenty newcomers.

Tauranga is a city of water. Everywhere you look, it beckons. On the beach at Mt Maunganui, surfers-in-the-making clamber onto their boards as one at the command of their instructor; behind them swimmers and surfers are silhouetted against the glitter. On the quieter waters of the inner harbour, children are learning to sail. People fish from wharves.

Even in downtown Tauranga, the water calls. Just across the road from a line-up of upmarket restaurants and pubs, a group of kids are dive bombing off a jetty. The day is hot and muggy. It looks like fun.

“It looks incredibly inviting, doesn’t it,” says Kurt Cordice. “But that water is whipping along at about a knot-and-a-half I would say.

“One of the things I tell people in my workshops is that you might not necessarily want to go where the Kiwis are. Just because they are comfortable, doesn’t mean you will be – and while I know my way around the water, that goes for me as well.”

Born in Canada to parents from the Caribbean, Kurt learned to swim during a visit to the Grenadines when was six or seven.

“From the moment I first touched the sea, I knew that was where I wanted to be.”

At Guelph University, an hour’s drive from Toronto, he studied marine environments and animal behaviour, and a few years later he became the first manager of a new Marine Protected Areas in Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It was the prelude to a career that has united three elements: working in, on around water; youth development; and working with different cultures.

Kurt has worked in experiential education for Gyeonggi English Village, a government-run English immersion programme in Korea, and, at various times, been a sailing skipper, scuba instructor and first aid instructor.

It was while in Korea that he developed the suite of courses that make up Global Swim, the programme he brought with him when he moved to New Zealand to join his partner, Yasmin, who was studying at Waikato University.

Global Swim is an authorised provider of the Starfish Swimming programme developed by the Starfish Aquatics Institute, which supports swimming and aquatic safety programmes in the USA and around the world. With their support, Kurt has customised Global Swim to fit the needs of people from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

How does a community reduce deaths by drowning? Kurt advocates a grassroots approach, changing behaviour by educating key individuals in the basics of water safety.

It is similar to first aid, he says. “You seed people in the community who have a higher level of knowledge.”

While Global Swim offers pool-based programmes, its Safety Training and Aquatic Rescue course is taught entirely on dry land and is suitable for anyone, regardless of their swimming competence.

“You just need that one person on the beach who says, ‘Hey guys, we should be down by the lifeguards,’ or maybe, if someone is in trouble, ‘Don’t jump in yourself, throw him the cooler [chilly bin].’

“We are losing people because they don’t know what to do when they get into trouble or they have put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

International students are particularly at risk. At least 10 have died in drowning accidents in New Zealand since 2013.

In Tauranga, Kurt is working with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s student association, Student Pulse.

So far, in a pilot programme, eight Toi Ohomai international students have completed a Water Watcher course, and somewhere between 100 and 150 students are expected to go through the course in 2019.

In Hamilton, Kurt is coordinating a Water Safe Waikato course as part of a partnership between Water Safety NZ, Global Swim and the University of Waikato. Funded by the Ministry of Education and now in its second semester,  the course is expected to teach 80 international students and will be the subject of a research project.

But not every school or tertiary provider offers a water safety programme, and Kurt sees a clear divide.

“In general, the schools that have accidents are going, ‘Hey, can we have some help?’ It’s the ones who haven’t that are stepping back a bit and are saying, ‘Hey, our students have already watched a water safety video.’

Kurt describes his strength as getting people to the point of being safer. “Then people can go on to learn to enjoy the water in their own way, whether it’s kayaking, fishing, surfing or diving. Take me – I am an underwater guy.”

All it takes is motivation, he says. “One of my students, a refugee, took four lessons to go from not knowing how to swim to spending time unassisted in the deep end, and when I took him over to the ocean, it turned out that he had already been to the Mount to go swimming with his friends.”

Water Safety New Zealand

Settling in

Ann Kerewaro arrived in New Zealand almost 60 years ago. Today, as President of Multicultural Tauranga, she and her volunteers are reaching out to a new generation of newcomers.

The day before the annual Multicultural Tauranga Festival, and Ann Kerewaro (pictured above), Multicultural Tauranga’s President, is doing her best to give an interview. But other matters keep cropping up: there are volunteers who would like to know what to do next; the man who was setting up a marquee has taken ill, what should be done? This what it is like to be a volunteer, she says: “You do more, and you do more, and you do more. It really sucks you in. But I am still enjoying it. Even though we all complain from time to time, it’s worthwhile: helping people to settle in to a new country.”

It is an experience Ann knows personally. In her case, she blames WWII for the circumstances that led to her setting out on her New Zealand adventure.

In the early 1940s, she was one of the many thousands of children evacuated from London to escape the blitz. During the war, her parent’s split up, leaving her mother in London, her father in Birmingham and Ann in Wales.

Afterwards, Ann moved back to London and worked in the civil service. “But I didn’t have a real base, so I thought, what about New Zealand?

In 1961, at age 25, she arrived in Auckland on the ocean liner SS Canberra.

“She was a lovely boat; it was her second voyage. We left Southampton on 22 of September and arrived on 22 of October, which happened to be Labour Day, and we went down to Wellington on the overnight train. Now that was a cultural experience.”

To make themselves comfortable, the passengers were issued with a cushion each “and we were given a pie for breakfast in a paper bag”.

 Wellington failed to impress – “it didn’t stop blowing for six whole weeks” – and she missed London, then entering the swinging ’60s, where she had flatted in Earl's Court.

“There were no Sunday papers here – I am a real fan of newspapers. No supermarkets – which I wasn’t that bothered about, so no late shopping – and no coffee bars. I thought they have to be somewhere, and they weren’t.

 “Here there was nothing, nothing, nothing.

“But then over my first Christmas I hitch-hiked down the South Island with a couple of other girls. Right down to the bottom, down to Stewart Island and my mind changed. I thought, this is a wonderful place. I have been fine ever since.”

A few years later, she would cancel a flight home, go on to meet the man who became her husband, and, in 1973, move to Tauranga, where her husband had relatives. Here she raised a family and worked for the Ministry of Education and Wesley Church.

“We've been here for 40 years in the same house.”

Ann joined Multicultural Tauranga in 2004, invited along to a meeting by a Brazilian colleague in the Ministry of Education.

“She left, but I didn’t.”

Over the years, she has served as secretary, treasurer and, from 2016, president. “There was nobody stepping up, so I said okay,” she says.

Looking back, Ann thinks her generation of migrants, mostly from Britain, found settling in relatively easy.

“It was almost like going from a cold English country to a warm English country. Everyone spoke English and there was hardly anybody else from any other country except the UK and a few people from Holland.”

It is quite different now. The country has changed and so have the migrants. In 2015-16, the principal source countries for skilled migrants arriving in the Bay of Plenty were India,the UK, the Philippines, China and South Africa.

And as more people from a greater range of nations have arrived, Multicultural Tauranga has found the services it offers – which include a translation service and English conversation classes –are playing an increasingly important role in helping people find their place.

Often the first encounter newcomers have with Multicultural Tauranga is at the weekly coffee meeting, says Ann.

Here locals and migrants mix. “Once Kiwis start coming along, they often become regulars.”

Ann sees the social barriers fall.

“When people first come by, they are usually bit shy, a bit hesitant. A few weeks later and they are talking to one another. It amazes me sometimes – coming from the UK where nobody talks to a foreigner.

“It can get quite noisy.”


Multicultural Tauranga

Founded in 1994, Multicultural Tauranga is a volunteer-run community organisation that offers settlement support services and organises a number of multicultural community events.

The services include

  • coffee mornings
  • newcomers network meetings (informally known as the Cookie and Coffee Club)
  • Justice of the Peace clinics
  • English conversation classes
  • interpreting and translation.

Multicultural Tauranga is part of a national network of more than 20 multicultural councils around New Zealand.

To find out more, visit:

Multicultural Tauranga |



Jim Datson specialises in helping charities and community organisations, such as Multicultural Tauranga, become more effective.

New Zealand has an outsize number of charities per head of population says Jim Datson (pictured bove), the director of Project Periscope, a business providing services to charities and community organisations.

“In New Zealand we have a registered charity for every 164 residents. In Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the US, it hovers either side of one for 400.”

All up, New Zealand has about 27,500 charities, ranging in size from multimillion dollar enterprises at one end of the scale to a ‘long tail’ of tiny charities at the other.

There’s no such thing as organisational contraception in New Zealand. If you don’t like the charity you’ve got, you go out and set up another.

“More than two thirds of charities have total revenue of less than $100,000. At best, they might be employing someone on a part-time basis.”

And every year more charities are formed. “There’s no such thing as organisational contraception in New Zealand. If you don’t like the charity you’ve got, you go out and set up another.”

In turn, this means a proliferation of boards and committees. “There are 167,000 adults who are trustees of registered charities, and then there is the wider community sector – which comprises 114,000 organisations. How do people know what they are doing? Is it any wonder that organisations get into trouble.”

Jim’s first experience of organisational troubleshooting came in 2003, when St John Ambulance asked him to move from Wellington to Palmerston North to help rescue a region he describes as technically insolvent.

He was a good fit for the role – he had been a St John volunteer from the age of 16, had worked in operations until he began to get back pain, and had postgraduate qualifications in business.

Over the next seven years he turned the region’s fortunes around, taking part in a restructuring, and rebuilding relationships with the volunteers and community.

When Jim relocated to Palmerston North, he struck a marital bargain. The children had left home; his wife could now choose where the two of them would live long term.

She chose Tauranga, and in 2016, after a five-year period as St John’s fundraising manager, this time based in Auckland, Jim joined her. “I thought I might try living with my wife,” he deadpans.

In Tauranga, he set up his business, the Periscope Project, and he was spotted by someone who knew his work – the manager of the Tauranga City Council’s Community Development Team.

Jim is now seen as a de facto troubleshooter, called whenever a local charitable organisation finds itself in trouble, whatever the cause.

“Sometimes it’s a legal or structural issue, sometimes it’s governance, sometimes systems and processes, finance management, revenue generation or people management.”

Multicultural Tauranga, which was in financial trouble, was one of his clients.

“I thought they had three options: voluntarily stop trading, be forced to stop trading either by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies or some creditor, or pray for a miracle. But blow me down, they got through it.”

It was Jim’s first experience of working alongside Ann Kerewaro, “someone I have grown to respect, enormously and unconditionally”.

In turn, Ann credits Jim with bringing a fresh, outward-looking, perspective to Multicultural Tauranga.

“He told us things we may not have liked but were necessary at the time. He made us ask the difficult questions: what we want to do, why we want to do it, why are we here?”

Tauranga needs a well-functioning Multicultural Tauranga, says Jim.

“We need an organisation that can be a conduit, a way for the wider community to reach out to migrants as well as a way for migrants to express their views about issues that matter to them.”

Did you know

  • Registered Charities contribute the equivalent of nearly 7% of New Zealand’s GDP.
  • The NZ Government contributes over $5bn in grants and contract funding to enable the sector to deliver services.
  • Individual New Zealanders and grant-making trusts collectively contribute more than $2.5bn in donations, grants and bequests.
  • An estimated 180,000 New Zealanders govern Registered Charities as Trustees, Board members or Committee members.
  • Nearly 7,000 Registered Charities have disappeared in the past eight years – some legitimately because their work is done, or because they have been absorbed into another organisation; many because they have failed to submit annual returns and have simply disappeared; and a few that have been forcibly deregistered.
  • Excluding restricted and endowment funds, Registered Charities carry on average around nine months of equivalent operating cash and oversee more than $50bn in assets.


Taking the wheel

New Zealand is a nation of car owners and drivers. Whether shopping, going to the dentist, getting to work, or dropping the kids off at school, we usually go by car. Sometimes we travel by car because it suits us, and sometimes because we must: if you live in a suburb far from a bus stop, there is little choice. Then there is work: many job descriptions require applicants to have a New Zealand driver licence.

For many migrants, this means that being able to legally drive is second only to being able to speak English as a life skill.

In Ashburton, a programme to teach migrants how to drive has just completed its first year, with 19 of the 21 students passing their learner’s licence.

Rural Driving Co-ordinator Wendy Hewitt says that four of the students have moved into new jobs, and that the course has improved lives in other ways as well.

“You can see people making friends and gaining confidence.”

For on-the-road practice, the course relies on locally-recruited volunteer mentors.

They too have valued the experience, says Wendy. “Some have said that training as a mentor has made them better drivers.”

Among the mentors are migrants born in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Philippines and Ecuador.

“We also have a volunteer from China helping look after children while the mothers are in class,” says Wendy.

The latest learners’ class started on 30 April 2019.


Many migrants arrive in New Zealand with good English language skills. But that doesn’t always equip them for the enormous amount of information they’ll need about living and working here. In their early stages of settling in, many will require access to information in their first language to really understand how things work here

InfoNOW… in your language is a new multilingual settlement information service offering assistance in a range of languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Cambodian, Samoan, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese.

Each language has its own 0800 number, directing callers to the appropriate staff member.

The new service is provided by the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust, which has been contracted to provide multilingual settlement information services nationwide.

The Trust also operates the Waikato translation and interpreting service Decypher, a newcomer skills-matching service, and the Open Road driving course for former refugees.

“Providing InfoNOW… in your language is a natural fit with other services we provide for migrants, especially our Decypher service which offers translation and interpreting in over 50 languages,” says Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust Business Manager Leanne Salisbury.

InfoNOW… in your language is part of a range of Government- funded services that support New Zealand’s Migrant Settlement and Integration Strategy outcomes.

Judi Altinkaya, INZ’s National Manager Settlement, oversees the cross-agency implementation of the Strategy and says, “Access to settlement information in your first language is a key element of the Strategy. While most visa categories have English language requirements, migrants can always expect to access the information they need in their preferred language.”


What do migrants want to know?

Most of the enquiries that are directed to the service concern everyday matters, such as:

  • everyday living, including public transport and rubbish collection
  • our health system and how to access it
  • housing and tenancy
  • employment services and employee rights
  • where to learn English
  • driver licence requirements
  • consumer protection.

InfoNOW… in your language is available 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

You can call the free phone, email, or visit the website, which lists the available languages and their 0800 numbers.

0800 4636 669

Sector round-up

The latest news from the settlement sector.

Festival of Colours

In March, Palmerston North celebrated Holi, the Festival of Colours (image above), alongside the Manawatū River. The event featured student performances, DJ sets and food trucks. The event was organised by a student committee under the oversight of Welcoming Communities and Student City Palmerston North. International students were key members of the committee.

Race Unity Day

On Sunday 17 March more than 5,000 people and 35 cultures turned out to mark Race Unity Day in Nelson. Multicultural Nelson Tasman, which organises the day to celebrate cultural diversity, described it as the best yet.

Crab-fishing experience day

A crab-fishing experience day run by Drowning Prevention Auckland and Harbour Sport with the help of Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving Patrol. The idea for the day, held in memory of Ares Li, who drowned while crab fishing in the waters off Uretiti Beach on Christmas Day 2014, came from Senior Constable Martin Geddes and aquatic educator Harry Aonga.

Persian New Year

Auckland North Newcomers Network coordinator Laure Romanetti writes: On March 21st, one week exactly after the Christchurch terrorist attack, we celebrated the Persian New Year. Muslims and non-Muslims joined in unison to read 1,000-year-old poems by Omar Khayyam. Poetry was read in Farsi, English and French. The beauty of poetry pulled us together and helped us mourn.

2019 Kiwibank Local Hero Awards

Honours: In Whangarei, Gina Eiger and Liane Blair (above) were among 22 Northlanders who were 2019 Kiwibank Local Hero Awards. Gina and Liane, both migrants from North America, are the founders of the highly successful local community organisation WINGS (Whangarei’s Women’s International Newcomers Group Social). In the 2019 New Year Honours, Ahmed Tani from Christchurch was named an Officer in the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to refugee communities.

More of Us

More of Us is a new anthology of poems by people who came to New Zealand as former refugees or migrants. The 46 authors range from high school ESOL students, to adult English Language Partners learners, to well-established poets. The book was launched by Michael Wood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Ethnic Communities, at the National Library in Wellington on Race Relations Day, 21 March 2019. It is available from Landing Press for $22.00.

Waka paddling

New migrant families experience paddling a waka as part of an initiative run by the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre, the Rawiri Family, Tamaki Herenga Waka Trust and ActivAsian.

Welcome to Palmerston North

Palmerston North City Council has published a guide to help newcomers settle into their new community. The pack is the work of the Council’s Welcoming Communities coordinator Steph Velvin and local residents. To download the guide, visit:

Palmerston North City & Manawatu

In Oamaru

In Oamaru painted rocks bearing messages of unity have been scattered around the town. The rocks are the work of OamaruRocks, a group founded in 2017 by Mary Jane Kirkman in conjunction with SKIP (Strategies with Kids | Information for Parents ) to bring families and neighborhoods closer together.

Race Relations Day

Nalini Varghese, Manager English Language Partners (ELP) Southland writes: Some of our newest Kiwi Colombians ran a superb, sell-out food stall at Invercargill’s Multicultural Food Festival to celebrate Race Relations Day. Pictured are ELP learners Duvan Lomineth (left) and his mother Sandra Sulbaran (a professional chef in Colombia) with Duvan’s siblings.


New online

New site for international students

NauMai NZ is a new website for New Zealand-based international students. Run by Education NZ, the site gives information about studying and working in New Zealand, plus tips about how to settle in. Visitors to the site can sign up to receive personalised emails with settlement information. 

NauMai NZ

Superdiversity compared

A data visualisation showing diversity in Vancouver, Sydney and Auckland is now available online. The visualisation is the work of Steven Vertovec, Daniel Hiebert, Alan Gamlen and New Zealand’s Professor Paul Spoonley.


The New Zealand Atlas of Population Change

If you want to drill down to see how population demographics are changing throughout New Zealand, a new online resource is available. The New Zealand Atlas of Population Change – technically a ‘geo-data decision support system’ – is being developed by Dr Natalie Jackson and Dr Lars Brabyn with the assistance of Glen Stichbury. The primary objective of the Atlas is the visualisation of socio-demographic diversity across New Zealand’s 16 regions, 67 territorial authority areas (TAs), 143 towns and 132 rural centres.

The Atlas forms part of a broader research programme looking at the changing composition of New Zealand’s population: Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa/New Zealand (CaDDANZ). 

New Zealand Atlas of Population Chnge

Migration Data Explorer launched

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has launched a new interactive web site. The Migration Data Explorer enables anyone to easily access and analyse recent migration data. 

Migration Data Explorer | Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment

Tauranga Multicultural Festival 2019

Multicultural Tauranga’s Ann Kerewaro estimates that 100-plus volunteers donate their time to making the Tauranga Multicultural Festival a success. It also attracts strong community support: this year’s Festival was assisted by the local Lions club and the opening speakers included MPs from both sides of the House.

Coordinators are responsible for each facet of the Festival, including the performances, food stalls and the information providers. Multicultural Tauranga’s Ann Kerewaro estimates that 100-plus volunteers donate their time to making the event a success. It also attracts strong community support: this year’s Festival was assisted by the local Lions club and the opening speakers included MPs from both sides of the House.

Festival 2019 - Father and son making origami


Indian family enjoying the festival.


Young girl inside of a police car enjoying pretending to drive it.