About the Community Refugee Sponsorship programme

Immigration New Zealand has collaborated with refugees, previously approved sponsors, iwi partners, and key stakeholders to co-design a community model to support the delivery of the Community Refugee Sponsorship programme.

The Community Refugee Sponsorship programme model is based on a core partnership between the government (Immigration New Zealand), communities, and an umbrella organisation, HOST Aotearoa New Zealand, which will be the driving force for the programme.

For this three year trial HOST Aotearoa New Zealand will be funded and work under a contract with Immigration New Zealand, and will be responsible for assisting refugees to understand the Community Refugee Sponsorship programme, complete Expressions of Interest and undertake English language assessments.

HOST Aotearoa New Zealand will also support community organisations in applying to become approved sponsors. Once organisations are approved, HOST Aotearoa New Zealand will also provide coaching and training.

The approved community organisations will provide direct settlement support to refugees for the full two years of their sponsorship programme.

Local community sponsors will provide personal contact and practical advice, helping newcomers to secure rental housing, enrol in education and health services, find jobs and form connections within their new community.

Video — Refugee Sponsorship programme introduction
View transcript


All over the world there are millions of people around the world who have had to flee their countries, leaving everyone and all they knew behind.

Although most refugees remain in areas close to their country, some have to travel further to find a new home.

This is where the New Zealand Refugee Sponsorship Programme comes in.

It creates a special opportunity for ordinary people to do something very direct and very tangible to help refugees.

In this innovative programme, community sponsors are matched with a refugee before they come to New Zealand.

Sponsors provide the support that the refugees need to start their new life.

Anyone can be a sponsor.

Sponsors' backgrounds and experiences can vary, but they will do the same thing: they offer their time and knowledge to sponsored refugees as they settle in to the community.

There are lots of details to consider, so, before they arrive, sponsors prepare detailed plans to show how they will meet their responsibilities.

These settlement plans not only help the sponsors get organised, but also ensure that refugee families are fully cared for.

The plans have to be reviewed and approved by the government.

From the first day a refugee arrives, sponsors assist them and help them settle in communities.

Prior to arrival they will help the sponsored refugees by finding them a home and furnishings, providing it with essentials, and then assisting them to get set up with the basic needs, such as food, clothing, and transportation.

Sponsors also help with the daily routine.

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, which is why sponsors work in groups.

Any kind of group could potentially be a community sponsor with the Refugee Sponsorship programme.

This could be as few as five people, provided they are prepared to commit to the sponsorship programme.

But remember, it is a big commitment, and everyone must undergo police checks. It’s not a casual commitment, but can be extremely rewarding.

Existing Non-government organisations might find Refugee Sponsorship to be an exciting new initiative that fits with some existing activities.

Immigration New Zealand has appointed Host Aotearoa New Zealand to be the Umbrella organisation for the Refugee Sponsorship programme

Host Aotearoa New Zealand will provide a hub that individual sponsorship groups can use to share issues and successes.

Within the sponsor group, teamwork will help sponsors to manage the tasks of preparation and assistance for their sponsored refugee, such as understanding specific personal and cultural needs, and working out ways to address them - which could include fundraising.

Refugee sponsorship is a special opportunity for individual Kiwis to take a direct role in the welcoming and successful settlement of refugees.

This is different from the NZ Refugee Quota programme, which relies on settlement organizations to settle refugees, often with the help of volunteers.

Refugee Sponsorship is special as it puts the local community at the heart of the programme.

Right from the start, they will help the new arrivals access government and community training and support, while working directly with them, to help them become self-sufficient in their new community.

When communities collaborate with the common goal of helping a family to rebuild and succeed, they too are strengthened.

The experience of intercultural exchanges and learning breaks down barriers and builds mutual acceptance and understanding.

This not only transforms the lives of sponsors and refugee families, but also makes communities more welcoming places.

When communities open their doors to newcomers, they also open their hearts and minds.

Learn more about Refugee Sponsorship in New Zealand here: