News, Events and Culture

Palmerston North chosen for Welcoming Communities programme

Tuesday August 22 2017

Palmerston North has been confirmed as one of five sites for a Welcoming Communities pilot programme initiated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Welcoming Communities is being developed in recognition that communities are healthier, happier and more productive when newcomers are welcomed and participate fully in society and in the local economy.

The two-year programme will see Palmerston North City Council take a greater role in ensuring our local community is more involved in welcoming newcomers to the city.

"It's great that Palmerston North is recognised as a city that fosters a positive approach to welcoming and supporting newcomers," says Debbie Duncan, General Manager, Library and Community Services. "We've been a refugee resettlement centre for the last 10 years and this pilot will help us to provide more support to our community with their role in making newcomers settle quickly, feel like they are valued, and able to contribute to our community."

The Welcoming Communities programme supports migrants, refugees, international students and New Zealanders coming from elsewhere to live in Palmerston North. Partnerships will be developed between Palmerston North City Council, educational providers, community agencies and the business sector.

Mayor Grant Smith says: "There are many benefits for our city from being responsive and receptive to newcomers. They bring with them a wealth of knowledge, work experience, and in some cases migrant investment, as well as and cultural vibrancy and diversity. Our city needs to be ready and becomes the winner if we can support greater social cohesion and resilience, which ultimately can lead to stronger economic growth."

Immigration New Zealand’s Acting General Manager – Settlement, Protection and Attraction, Judi Altinkaya said Palmerston North was selected for the pilot programme in recognition of its collaborative approach in working with Immigration New Zealand and for its part of the Regional Partnership Agreement with the Central Economic Development Agency, CEDA.

Feedback is currently being sought from stakeholders on the development of prescribed standards that would enable Palmerston North to be internationally accredited as a Welcoming Community. And recruitment is underway for a Welcoming Communities Coordinator who will work with community groups and agencies and develop a welcoming plan.

Participating pilot sites will receive some funding from central government. The other pilot sites for Welcoming Communities are Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty, Southland (Gore, Invercargill and Southland), Whanganui, and Canterbury (Ashburton and Selwyn).