World Refugee Day events across the country

12 July 2023

Around the country, our staff, volunteers, members and whānau marked World Refugee Day and the contributions former refugees make to their communities. Here is a snippet of some of these events.

Ōtepoti Dunedin

We co-hosted an event with Southern Youth Development and Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council, at the Araiteuru Marae on 18 June. The event’s kaupapa acknowledged the refugee journey, promoted inclusion and belonging, as well as providing a safe place where former refugees feel welcomed and connected. 

Over 100 people turned up! The day began with a pōwhiri, to welcome everyone onto the wharenui (marae), and then on to the wharekai to have a hakari (feast). It was a potluck event with additional delicious food from Abdal Moneem Kyassah’s catering business and a community bbq supported by Fulton Hogan. Kadodo Drums and The Otago Southland Chinese Association Lion Dancers both gave stunning performances.

Ōtautahi Christchurch

Our Pathways for Employment team organised an event on 24 June in collaboration with Peeto Learning Centre, Christchurch Resettlement Services, Purapura Whetu and African Community Leader. Over 50 people of all ages attended. The day honoured the refugee community – their courage and positive contributions. Guest speakers highlighted their resilience and challenges they faced, and their successes since they resettled in Aotearoa. 

The day was a huge success showcasing the stories and talent of the refugee community, and experiences from people in our Pathways to Employment programme and opened doors with attendees for future partnerships and collaborations.  

In addition, Pathways to Employment organised a shared lunch at the Service Centre on 20 June - where other staff joined us for a World Refugee Day focused quiz. 

Whakatū Nelson

Our Settlement Youth Worker Ehtisham Ahmed along with migration settlement staff organised a “Multicultural Master Chef” cook-off on 24 June. Starting with a karakia and a prayer from the Qur’an, there were also songs, drama, and a lot of fun. The cook-off included seven former refugee groups who competed to win Best Food of the Day and many other different awards.  

A panel including New Zealand Red Cross managers and Nelson City Council judged each entry and the Karenni Team were overall winners for the day. Many ethnicities and wider communities came together during the day. 

Kirikiriroa Hamilton

Our Pathways to Employment team in Hamilton joined the Waikato Refugee Forum and participated in a youth focused event on 11 June.  The team also held a stall and talked to many people in the community on the day. The event included many wonderful performances and young guest speakers. 

Waikato Pathways to Employment team, (from left to right) Firishta Ali, Saadia Arif and Leidy Montes.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington

Our migration team and other agencies joined Changemakers Resettlement Forum on 25 June at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua - a multi-purpose indoor sports and entertainment centre. There were many events - live performances, music, cultural dances, food, and youth and family activities. 

Hundreds of people from Wellington, Horowhenua and Wairarapa regions visited and participated including new New Zealanders, volunteers and the wider community.

Ahmad Alkhattat and Yousef Mazraeh from Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington’s migration team at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua.

Also in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, we organised a Parliamentary breakfast on 22 June. Kaumatua, Peter Jackson began the event with a karakia. We heard former refugee experiences and thoughts from Nayyara Gondal from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and Pray Meh Nga from the Karenni Community. Our Board’s Vice President, John Dyer and the new Minister of Immigration also spoke strongly in support of refugee inclusion.  

Hamid Majdi, his wife Pantea and daughter Parmida performed beautiful traditional Iranian music and dance, and Zeina Al Sary provided her portraits for display. Around 130 people gathered including refugee background communities, volunteers, Members of Parliament, dignitaries, government agencies, organisations in the sector, - and our staff including our Secretary General, Sarah Stuart Black and some of our Board members. The event was generously sponsored by Countdown. 

Speakers at the Parliamentary breakfast, (from left to right) Pray Meh Nga, Aklilu Habteghiorghis, John Dyer, and Nayyara Gondal

More information

Watch this video about what hope means to people from a refugee background. 

World Refugee Day 2023

Learn more about World Refugee Day and its global theme. 

World Refugee Day 2023 | UNHCR

How you can help 

There are plenty of ways you can get involved with former refugees in your community.

  • Become a refugee support volunteer. Our volunteers are extraordinary community helpers who welcome new Kiwis. 
    Refugee support volunteer 
  • Give a new New Zealander a job opportunity. Our teams work with refugee background job seekers who have a vast range of skills, qualifications, and employment histories. 
    Employing refugees
  • Partner with us. Business partnerships are critical to our work helping people in New Zealand and overseas. Explore different ways your business can support our work and make an impact.
    Information about partnering with us

How we can help

  • Pathways to Settlement supports former refugees in New Zealand when they begin their settlement journey. 
    Refugee settlement 
  • Pathways to Employment helps people from refugee backgrounds to work and supports employers to increase diversity in their organisations.   
    Finding a job