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 Aotearoa 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.

There are 34 local councils and 5 local boards working with their communities to implement Welcoming Communities, a programme that puts the welcome mat out to newcomers: recent migrants, former refugees and international students

Video — Welcoming Communities NZ introduction and outline(1:50)
View transcript

*Female voice with music in the background. 

From the far north to the deep south, from tangata whenua (people of the land) to our newest kiwis, Aotearoa New Zealand is home to people and cultures from around the globe. 

Our diversity is our strength; it’s what makes us a vibrant and attractive place to be. 

But people don’t just move to a place. They move to communities. 

So how we choose to welcome and include new people into those communities, is up to all of us. 

That’s why we are inviting you to join Welcoming Communities – Te waharoa ki ngā hapori. 

As a town, city, or region, becoming a Welcoming Community shows your commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

It means putting out the welcome mat, so people from all cultures and backgrounds see you as a welcoming place to live, learn, work and visit. 

As a Welcoming Community, you’ll have access to resources, practical tools and expert guidance that will help support the good work you’re doing. 

You’ll be able to celebrate your successes, share your innovative ideas and learn new approaches with councils and communities around the country. 

You can also choose to be accredited, according to our national standard. So you can share pride in your progress, grow your welcoming practices and unlock the social, cultural and economic potential of your communities. 

Being a Welcoming Community means building a positive, welcoming reputation. It's practicing manaakitanga (hospitality, the process of showing generosity and care for others), by showing that your community is welcoming to everyone, no matter where you’re from or what language you speak. 

And importantly, it means partnering with mana whenua (the indigenous people (Māori) with historic and territorial rights over the land in your area) and others in your community, to make the places we love, more welcoming and inclusive for everyone. 

Because here in Aotearoa, Welcoming Communities are stronger communities. 

So join us by searching Welcoming Communities New Zealand.

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 870KB

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