New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme

New Zealand is one of around 26 countries that take part in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regular resettlement programme.

Our customary annual refugee quota is 750 refugees. Since the Second World War New Zealand has resettled over 33,000 refugees. The Government established a formal annual quota for the resettlement of refugees in 1987. The Refugee Quota Branch (RQB) is the branch of Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which is tasked with operating the Refugee Quota Programme. INZ in turn sits within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

On 7 September 2015 the Government announced New Zealand will welcome 750 Syrian refugees in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Of the 750 places, 600 will be by way of a special emergency intake above New Zealand’s annual quota, and 150 places will be offered within the quota.

There will be 150 dedicated places within the existing 2015/16 annual quota of 750. On top of this another 100 will be taken this financial year, and a further 500 over the next two financial years (2016/17 and 2017/18).

The quota and special emergency Syrian intake are a reflection of the Government’s commitment to fulfilling its international humanitarian obligations and responsibilities to provide protection to refugees.

The Refugee Quota Programme is decided by the New Zealand Government in three-year cycles. The composition of the refugee quota is agreed to annually by the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Refugees considered for resettlement under the programme (except certain applicants who are nuclear or dependent family members of the principal) must be recognised as mandated refugees and referred by UNHCR according to prescribed resettlement guidelines. When processing and deciding cases the following factors are considered: INZ policy, credibility, settlement, security, immigration risk, and health.

Refugees who arrive in New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC). The MRRC is manged by Immigration New Zealand, which works in partnership with other government agencies and non-government organisations (NGO) to run the six-week reception programme. The reception programme aims to build basic social and coping skills required for refugees’ new lives in New Zealand and provide information on work and expectations of employment. Prior to arrival in New Zealand refugees are provided with information on working and living in New Zealand and an assessment is completed for each refugee to identify needs and services required once refugees arrive at MRRC. Key focus areas for the reception programme are:

  • Health and mental health assessments, initial treatment and health promotion, and
  • Settlement planning, including orientation to working and living in New Zealand and an employment assessment for working age refugees, and
  • Education, including English language. Refugee children are also prepared for their introduction into the New Zealand classroom and national curriculum.

After completing the reception programme, refugees are settled in six regions throughout New Zealand: Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin. Suitable furnished housing is located for refugees prior to completion of the reception programme – either Housing New Zealand or private rentals.

Download the Refugee Quota Programme 2012-13 to 2015-16 PDF 389KB

Download Refugee Quota factsheets on major refugee groups currently being resettled in New Zealand.

Afghanistan PDF 413KB

Colombia PDF 340KB

Myanmar PDF 408KB

Rohingya PDF 524KB

Sri Lanka PDF 366KB

Syria PDF 430KB