Increasing New Zealand's Refugee Quota

New Zealand is increasing the number of refugees who can settle here. We have been working on projects to support this increase under the Refugee Quota Increase Programme (RQIP).

Increasing the quota

A number of refugees can settle in New Zealand each year under the Refugee Quota Programme (RQP). New Zealand’s annual Refugee Quota increased to 1,500 places from July 2020.

We have been working to manage this increase as part of a multi-agency group that has worked across housing, community, and health sectors. 

The goal of the Refugee Quota Progamme is to ensure the Government is able to:

  • deliver on their commitment to increase the quota
  • deliver on our international humanitarian commitments as part of the global response to the refugee crisis, and
  • achieve the outcomes from the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy (NZRRS).

New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy

RQIP projects

RQIP's projects included:

  • preparing new settlement locations
  • enhancing approaches to community engagement
  • addressing refugee access to housing, and
  • implementing a new health screening, assessment and management model.

Preparing new settlement locations

Currently New Zealand settles refugees in:

  • the Auckland region
  • Hamilton
  • Palmerston North
  • the Wellington region
  • Nelson
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin, and
  • Invercargill.

We are setting up new settlement locations

To support the quota increase we have been working to set up new locations:

  • Ashburton
  • Blenheim — first refugees arrived in June 2020
  • Levin
  • Masterton, and
  • Timaru — first refugees arrived in June 2020.

The Government and Iwi representatives continue to work through the next steps for refugee resettlement in Whanganui.

How these new locations were chosen

The new locations were decided by the cross-government New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group. This group considered refugees' access to employment, housing, education and health services in these locations.

They also consulted mayors and representatives from local councils to ensure an understanding of opportunities and issues from a local perspective.

New refugee settlement location announced

Refugees to start settling in June 2020 

New settlement locations Blenheim and Timaru welcomed refugees from June 2020. Due to COVID-19 the timing of refugee arrivals in Masterton, Levin and Ashburton is still to be decided. 

Immigration New Zealand steps with refugees

You can download statistics on the quota refugee arrivals by nationality and settlement by region.

Refugee and Protection Unit Statistics Pack  PDF 421KB

How we are supporting settlement locations

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) continues to work closely with local councils, iwi and other stakeholders to ensure that communities in the settlement locations are prepared to welcome refugee quota families.

INZ is asking some service providers in the settlement locations to help refugees access local support services. The goal is that after a year, refugees will be able to understand how local services work and use them independently.

We are also working on new methods of community engagement and how to minimise the impact to housing and health services.

New methods of community engagement

To support the quota increase and new settlement locations, INZ is exploring new approaches to community engagement.

The new approaches aim to broaden engagement with:

  • former refugee communities
  • local, regional and central government
  • iwi, and
  • communities in settlement locations.

This work will cover both the current and new settlement locations.

The new approaches are outlined in a community engagement framework.

Community Engagement Framework PDF 875KB

How we started exploring new methods 

This work was started at the 2019 National Refugee Resettlement Forum.

National Refugee Resettlement Forum

Following on from the forum, INZ held meetings in existing and new settlement locations to understand current approaches and possible innovations.

INZ is also engaging with existing former refugee community organisations including Strengthening Refugee Voices Initiatives.

Access to housing

We are also working on how to minimise the impact on housing supply in refugee settlement locations.

The work we are doing includes: 

  • creating new settlement locations so there are more opportunities to settle refugees 
  • developing a Public Housing Plan, with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Kāinga Ora, on refugee access to housing — including supply in the settlement locations 
  • expanding private housing options for refugees through public awareness campaigns.

These activities will ensure that quota refugees are able to live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes which suit their assessed needs — be it in public, community or private housing.

All refugees get a long-term tenancy in their settlement location after they arrive in New Zealand, as part of their orientation at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC).

A long term tenancy is secured for refugee families in their settlement location before they leave MRRC.

About the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre

If you want to help with refugee housing

If you would like to support refugee housing in the private rental market, email the Refugee Housing Team.

A new approach to health

We are also implementing new health assessment, screening and management services for quota refugees in a joint project between INZ and the Ministry of Health, called the Refugee Quota Health Service Delivery Model.

The model includes the establishment of a new INZ team, the Refugee Health Liaison Team (RHLT). The team is responsible for coordinating refugee health services offshore and connecting to specialist services in New Zealand as required, and facilitation of knowledge sharing in refugee health matters in New Zealand.

Offshore health screening

Quota refugees will still be required to meet the INZ visa medical requirements to be included for resettlement under New Zealand’s Refugee Quota Programme.  

Under the new model, health screening and immunisations (aligned with the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule) will be offered to refugees while they wait to travel to New Zealand. Health information identified through settlement health assessment will be used to understand the need for offshore health services and for health services in New Zealand communities.

Quota refugees will be offered two assessments.

Settlement Health Assessment (INZ 1260) PDF 2MB

Departure Health Check (INZ 1262) PDF 2MB

Health information identified through settlement health assessments will be used to understand the need for offshore health services and for health services in New Zealand communities.

Health care continues onshore

A new primary care service will provide access to health care at the MRRC. If required, other health services, such as needs assessments, will be provided at MRRC to support successful settlement outcomes. 

Refugees take part in a reception programme at the MRRC, during which they will receive information and support to orientate them to New Zealand’s health system and health services available in the community.

Health services in settlement locations will continue to focus on primary care as well as services to support refugees settling into their new community. INZ and the Ministry of Health project team will continue to work with key health stakeholders in each settlement location to discuss the Refugee Quota Health Service Delivery Model.

If you would like to know more about the Refugee Quota Health Service Delivery Model, contact the RHLT.

More about quota refugees in NZ

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Factsheet

New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme