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Supported by Red Cross, Hapori is a project that connects established locals with some of our newer Kiwis.
This is done through the sharing of meals where the guests are encouraged to bring a dish from their culture to share with their neighbours.
The most recent event was held in a Brooklyn home and the house was buzzing as guests arrived and made themselves comfortable.
There was none of the usual awkwardness that can be found when a group of strangers gather in a room. Instead the guests mingled, sharing stories about their food and experiences of settling into Wellington.
Nory and Maya are former refugees from Colombia and Yemen respectively. They arrived in the same intake two years ago and have become firm friends, even spending Christmas together.
“I decided to come tonight because I wanted to practise my English, meet people, and try different foods,” says Maya.
Maya enjoyed connecting with some Kiwis who lived close by and people from other countries who had also recently settled in Wellington.
Nory brought a Colombian chicken and rice dish to the dinner while Maya brought along a traditional Iraqi Kebbe dish. Both their dishes joined cuisines from Thailand, Indonesia, the United States, and New Zealand.
After dinner, the group sat around discussing what they liked about New Zealand and sharing local secrets.
This sort of cultural and informational exchange is the reason Red Cross volunteer Amelia Devine founded Hapori.
“I knew that there were all these new people coming into Wellington bringing a wonderful diversity to our city, and I knew that so many Kiwis would love the opportunity to meet them, experience their culture and welcome them to New Zealand,” she says.
“But, besides being a Red Cross refugee support volunteer, I couldn't find a way to connect with them, so that's why I formed Hapori.”
The Brooklyn Neighbours Potluck was the fourth Hapori event and Amelia is planning the next one for Porirua in September.
“Porirua is such a multicultural area, full of really generous communities with a huge love of food and hospitality,” says Amelia.
“I'm really excited to see what we can create out there. It takes time to build rapport in each area and get the word out about what we're trying to accomplish so people feel comfortable attending.”
Amelia will have a Hapori stall at Red Cross’ Wellington World Refugee Day celebrations in Porirua where people can ask questions and get people's details to inform them of events to come.
If you’d like to find out more about Hapori or sign-up to attend, you can visit the website.
How to help
You can support refugee resettlement in New Zealand by donating small household goods, volunteering your time, or employing a former refugee. Find out more about how you can help here.