Find out how New Zealand Red Cross can help you and your family settle into your new life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Settling into a new life

Moving to your new community in Aotearoa will be life-changing. Learning about a new society, language, culture and systems can be challenging but New Zealand Red Cross and others will be there to help you.

We’ll support you as you take steps towards living independently and help you build a sense of belonging in New Zealand.

New Zealand Red Cross is one of six organisations that provides community settlement support to former refugees who have arrived under the annual government quota system.

We provide support in these locations:

  • Palmerston North
  • Levin
  • Masterton
  • Wellington
  • Nelson
  • Blenheim
  • Dunedin, and
  • Invercargill.

If you are being settled in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Timaru, or Ashburton, you’ll be supported by a different provider.

When you first arrive

When you arrive, you’ll begin to learn about life in New Zealand. You’ll spend your first five weeks in New Zealand at Te Āhuru Mōwai o Aotearoa, which is Immigration New Zealand’s Refugee Resettlement Centre in Auckland. While at the centre, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will look for housing for you, and once this is found, you’ll be able to move to your new home.

As a refugee coming to Aotearoa New Zealand, you’ll be given permanent residence on arrival and you can receive a range of support.

How we will help you

When you arrive in your new town, New Zealand Red Cross will meet you at the airport and take you to your new home. Your house will already be set up so you can move in straight away.

For up to two years, our team of professional social workers, cross-cultural workers, and case workers will help you settle in your new community. You will have a dedicated worker and a small team of trained volunteers to support you and your family.

For the first six months our volunteers will help you with:

  • Your first time grocery shopping.
  • Showing you around your new neighbourhood and available services, such as library and sports and health centres. 
  • Meeting your local Work and Income|Te Hiranga Tangata staff.
  • Setting up online banking arrangements and internet connections.
  • Taking you to your first English language classes and to visit the local school.
  • Taking you to your local doctor and dentist, and supporting you to go to hospital appointments where necessary.

Your New Zealand Red Cross worker will support you and can answer your questions and any concerns. This might be about anything from parenting in a new environment to joining a sports team or connecting you with other services.

They can also help you deal with trauma – and provide referrals to other professionals.

Trauma counselling information

Refugee support volunteers

With the help of 130 trained staff and 1,000 refugee support volunteers, we support people for at least 12 months after their arrival. You can find out more information and apply to volunteer with our programme.

Apply to volunteer with our programme

Useful websites and services

New Zealand Red Cross will connect you to services, agencies and organisations that can help you. Here are some of the most useful services.

Interpreting support

English language classes

Organisations supporting refugees in New Zealand

Other helpful websites and organisations