What is Welcoming Communities?

The Welcoming Communities initiative brings together local government councils and communities to make the places we love more welcoming for everyone.

Welcoming Communities logo.

Talk to any visitor to New Zealand and the first things they are likely to comment on are the beautiful scenery and the friendly locals. Kiwis are seen as friendly, hospitable and inclusive — qualities highlighted by Welcoming Communities Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori.

During the 2017 to 2019 pilot, 10 councils across 5 regions worked with their communities to implement Welcoming Communities, a programme that puts the welcome mat out to newcomers: recent migrants, former refugees and international students.

Welcoming Communities New Zealand video transcript

Communities that make newcomers feel welcome are likely to enjoy better social outcomes, and stronger economic growth. In this environment, everyone is able to participate in the economic, civic, cultural and social life of the community. Building connections between locals and newcomers means everyone feels included and knows they belong.

Welcoming Communities rational and intended outcomes PDF 281KB

The 2-year pilot programme was independently evaluated.

Welcoming Communities Evaluation final report 2019 PDF 1MB

Welcome Communities Evaluation summary report 2019 PDF 243KB

Based on the success of the pilot programme, the Government approved the programmes expansion in to other regions in New Zealand. Additional councils are invited to submit expressions of interest in joining the expanded programme.

Join Welcoming Communities

Pilot expansion and ongoing implementation of Welcoming Communities — cabinet paper and minute | MBIE

How we support Welcoming Communities

The support provided by Immigration New Zealand includes the following four components:

Knowledge sharing

Supporting local councils and communities to learn from each other and access resources.

Standard + Welcoming Plans + Accreditation

Developing the Welcoming Communities Standard for New Zealand (the Standard) to benchmark practices and services in welcoming newcomers. Supporting councils and communities to develop and implement their own individual Welcoming Plans. A Welcoming Plan sets out what each community will do to make their region even more welcoming. Inviting councils and their communities to apply for accreditation under the Standard.

Celebrating success

Showcasing success in Welcoming Plan activities and shining a light on the programme outcomes.


Providing seed funding over three years to employ a Welcoming Communities coordinator to work with the community to implement the programme.

International Welcoming Network

It is not just New Zealand that sees value in being welcoming. Welcoming Communities is part of an international welcoming network. Countries running similar initiatives include:




United States of America

Welcoming International