Accreditation formally recognises that Council and the Palmerston North community value newcomers and are committed to building welcoming and inclusive communities. It also gives them access to further funding, support and advice to continue their Welcoming Communities work.
Fiona Whiteridge, Immigration New Zealand’s General Manager of Refugee and Migrant Services, says the recognition across the country is well deserved. She commends the communities for their efforts and the crucial role they’ve played in the programme’s design.
“They have shown a commitment to creating an inclusive environment where all residents can thrive and belong. We’re delighted to accredit them as Committed Welcoming Communities. We look forward to further supporting their work.”
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says accreditation has provided Palmerston North with a platform to strengthen the existing work that has been happening in the settlement and inclusion area.
“With a decade-plus of history in this sector, it has given Council and the community a clear focus on where we need to head to support our increasingly diverse population, and with the Welcoming Plan, a roadmap for how we are going to get there together.”
Council has been working with a Welcoming Communities advisory group, which includes representatives from:
- Central Economic Development Agency
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Department of Internal Affairs
- English Language Partners
- Manawatū Chamber of Commerce
- Manawatū Multicultural Council (including Manawatū Newcomers Network)
- Ministry of Social Development
- Red Cross
- Immigration New Zealand (MBIE)
- Network of Skilled Migrants Manawatū
- New Zealand Police
- Manawatū Refugee Resettlement Forum.
What is Welcoming Communities?
Welcoming Communities – Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori is a settlement programme that supports local government (councils) and their communities to create welcoming and inclusive environments for newcomers – recent migrants, former refugees and international students. It involves local residents in developing, delivering and participating in welcoming activities. This approach creates communities where everyone can belong, participate, contribute and thrive. It helps increase social engagement, build social connections and grow social inclusion. This generates economic, social, civic and cultural benefits for the community.
What's been happening?
The programme was successfully trialled as a small-scale pilot from July 2017 to June 2019. Early outcomes from an interim Immigration NZ evaluation report show that:
- Stronger links are forming within the communities participating in the programme.
- Councils are taking a more visible leadership role in promoting diversity and inclusion.
- There has been an explicit shift to locals taking a ‘welcoming’ role.
- There is a positive change in community awareness of diversity and inclusion.
In October 2019 the Government announced the Welcoming Communities programme would be expanded. It allocated $6.665 million dollars over four years to support this work. The aim is to extend the initiative to 30 more sites around the country through to 2022-23.