Recognising our Welcoming Communities

Councils and communities gain recognition as being welcoming to newcomers by becoming accredited Welcoming Communities. Progressing through the 4 stages of accreditation has many benefits.

Accreditation as Established Welcoming Communities – Stage 2

On 25 May 2021, Whanganui District Council and its community were accredited as an Established Welcoming Community.

They join 7 other councils and communities that previously achieved Stage 2 accreditation on 12 June 2020. 

New Zealand’s Established Welcoming councils and communities are now:

  • Tauranga City Council
  • Western Bay of Plenty District Council
  • Palmerston North City Council
  • Ashburton District Council
  • Gore District Council
  • Invercargill City Council
  • Southland District Council
  • Whanganui District Council

What accreditation as an Established Welcoming Community means

Accreditation as an Established Welcoming Community recognises that the council with its community:

  • has developed a Welcoming Plan and is putting in place a range of activities for newcomers and those who have lived here longer
  • is clear about what it wants to achieve and is working towards meeting the Welcoming Communities Standard's outcomes
  • has strong governing, advisory, project management and monitoring arrangements
  • is partnering with the community to promote and implement the programme.

Accreditation as Committed Welcoming Communities – Stage 1

On 16 December 2019, 10 councils and communities became the first to be accredited at Stage 1 as Committed Welcoming Communities. These are:

  • Tauranga City Council
  • Western Bay of Plenty District Council
  • Whanganui District Council
  • Palmerston North City Council
  • Ashburton District Council
  • Selwyn District Council
  • Gore District Council
  • Invercargill City Council
  • Southland District Council
  • Environment Southland.

Communities and Councils recognised for their Welcoming Communities efforts

What accreditation as a Committed Welcoming Community means

Accreditation as a Committed Welcoming Community formally recognises that a council with its community:

  • values newcomers
  • is committed to building welcoming and inclusive communities
  • has taken active steps to create an environment where all residents can thrive and belong.

It allows councils to get further funding, support, and advice to continue their Welcoming Communities work.

Mayors note benefits of the programme

The mayors of the participating communities are seeing the benefits of being part of the programme.


"We’re pleased to be a participating council in the Welcoming Communities programme. Our new arrivals from overseas enrich our community with new perspectives and culture. I appreciate this wonderful diversity every time we gather for one of our regular citizenship ceremonies."

Hamish McDouall, Whanganui Mayor


"Newcomers play a vital role in the economic success of Tauranga, and help make our city a more vibrant and culturally diverse place to live. We value the contribution our newer residents make, and have made our community’s capacity to embrace diversity a priority. It’s been great to see residents and local organisations get behind the Welcoming Communities programme, creating more opportunities for people to collaborate and connect with each other."

Tenby Powell, Tauranga City Council Mayor

Western Bay of Plenty

"Given the diversity of the many small communities in our district, the Welcoming Communities programme has been a catalyst in helping enhance the community spirit and aroha that makes the Western Bay of Plenty such a welcoming place. At Council, we look forward to continuing to embrace the District's cultural diversity and build and strengthen cohesive and culturally connected communities."

Garry Webber, Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor

Palmerston North

"Welcoming Communities has provided Palmerston North City a platform to strengthen the existing work that has been happening in the settlement and inclusion area. With a decade plus of history in this sector, it has given Council and the community a clear focus on where we need to head to support our increasingly diverse population, and with the Welcoming Plan, a roadmap for how we are going to get there together."

Grant Smith, Palmerston North City Council Mayor


"I’m most proud of the way Welcoming Communities initiatives have had a ripple effect throughout the community. Projects delivered during the pilot such as the Mosque Open Day, Indian Om Garden and Futsal Extravaganza continue to be built upon and spark positive connections between locals and newcomers."

Neil Brown, Ashburton Mayor


"Over the last two years we have seen significant growth in the number of cultural events held in Southland, the formation of new cultural groups and increasing demand from local business and community groups to learn more about cultural awareness and unconscious bias. With the development of our Welcome Plan, we will build on this even further by providing opportunities to bring together the voices of both the resident and newcomer communities."

Ann Lockhart, Great South Chief Executive

More information

Email us for more information about the Welcoming Communities programme.

What is Welcoming Communities

Getting accredited as a Welcoming Community

The Welcoming Communities Standard