‘Welcoming Communities’ is a new initiative
set up by Immigration New Zealand to make newcomers to our country feel welcomed
and encouraged to participate fully in society and the local economy.
This is good news for all communities said Caroline Ryan Licensed Immigration Adviser. Greater participation encourages more interesting, diverse and accepting communities.
INZ states a key component of the programme
is the Welcoming Communities Standard. This ‘provides councils and communities
with a benchmark for what a successful welcoming community looks like’.
The eight elements of the Standard are:
‘Local government, tangata whenua and other community leaders
work together to create, advocate for and continue to foster a welcoming and
inclusive community. They lead a shared plan to increase connections between
newcomers and existing residents.’
People of all cultures and backgrounds feel included,
listened to and well informed through a range of ways that take into account
their different communication needs.
Opportunities to access services and activities and to
participate in the community are available to all, including newcomers.
Connected and Inclusive Communities
People feel safe in their identity and that they are
connected with and belong in the community. There are high levels of trust and
understanding between members of the receiving community and newcomers.
Economic Development, Business and Employment
Communities maximise and harness the economic development
opportunities that newcomers can offer. Councils work with business
associations to promote the contribution that newcomer business owners and
skilled migrants make to the region’s economy.
Civic Engagement and Participation
Newcomers feel welcome to fully participate in the community.
Newcomers are active in all forms of civic participation.
Welcoming Public Spaces
Newcomers and receiving communities feel welcome in and
comfortable using public spaces.
Culture and Identity
There is a shared sense of pride in being part of a
culturally rich and vibrant community. People feel their culture is respected
and valued by other members of the community. There are opportunities to learn
about each other’s cultures.
Led by Immigration New Zealand in partnership with the Office of
Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission, the programme has a
resource called the Welcome Mat to be used by councils and communities as they
develop Welcoming Plans.
Recent migrants, former refugees and international students will all
benefit from the programme as they are welcomed to participate in all aspects
of community life with locals thereby building connections and contributing to
a flourishing community.
Many innovative welcoming activities are already underway including Turban
Day in Tauranga, Neighbours Day in Ashburton, a flag-raising ceremony in
partnership with the Indian community in Southland to celebrate Indian
Independence Day, and many more to welcome and include all ethnicities.
An important outcome of the initiative is that ‘different cultures
are celebrated and people are supported to express their cultural beliefs and
customs, including language and religious practices’ resulting in connected and
If newcomers are felt included, their skills, knowledge and
experience help build a stronger local economy which everyone can benefit from.