The families were met at Christchurch airport by New Zealand Red Cross staff and Refugee Support Volunteers, who accompanied them to their new homes.

New Zealand Red Cross will provide support for up to 12 months as the families settle in Christchurch. This includes connecting the new arrivals with their community and vital services like healthcare, along with supporting them in securing employment.

General Manager Migration, Rachel O’Connor, says it is incredibly exciting to have former refugees arriving in the city.

“Nearly eight years to the day since the February 2011 earthquake, we have restarted settling former refugees. This is an important milestone in the Christchurch rebuild as the city is ready once again to say refugees are welcome,” Rachel says.

“Christchurch now has 22 brand new Cantabrians who bring skills, energy and passion. There’s no doubt they’ll be cheering on the Crusaders before too long.”

Red Cross Pathways to Settlement Manager in Christchurch, Jo Fasheun, says Refugee Support Volunteers would help the new Kiwis settle in to their new home, find their way around town, meet their neighbours, register at a doctor and navigate public transport.

“All of that can be really challenging – it’s about how we can support them to make those challenges easier and bringing some humour into it.

“It’s about learning from each other along the way.”

It’s still not too late to get involved as groups of around 20 former refugees will settle in Christchurch every eight weeks.

How you can help

There are many ways that you can welcome new Kiwis to your neighbourhood:

  • Become a Refugee Support Volunteer. Be a friendly face and supportive guide for former refugees as they embark on their settlement journey.
  • Donate small, good quality household items (such as kitchen appliances and bedding) to help turn houses into homes for new Kiwis. To do this, contact the Christchurch Service Centre.