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Right across the country, from the deep south to the far north, Kiwis have put up their hands and offered to help.
Down in Dunedin, we’ve had an overwhelming response from locals as the city prepares for its new role as a refugee resettlement location.
It’s been heartening to meet the hundreds of people who’ve signed up to be refugee support volunteers. These volunteers, along with Red Cross staff, will welcome families to the city and support them through their resettlement journey. They’ll help new Kiwis feel part of the community, share local knowledge (like tips for surviving a chilly Dunedin winter!) while also learning more about a different culture.
In the capital, Wellingtonians have also volunteered in force. We’re training an extra large group of volunteers to help as the city welcomes the first emergency intake of Syrians later this year.
And up in Auckland, hundreds turned out to raise funds for refugee resettlement at a concert featuring Kiwi icons Neil Finn and the Topp Twins. Along with the concert, our friends over at Kiwis On Board and Diva Productions have put together a series of powerful videos, sharing the stories of people who arrived in New Zealand as refugees.
While this support has been incredible, it’s important to remember that, today, refugees need our help more than ever.
The current quota – 750 people a year – hasn’t increased since 1987. We believe New Zealand can do more.
Every year, we meet wonderful people like Thass, a former refugee living in Lower Hutt who dreams of opening his own restaurant. We meet people like Daniel, who has helped establish a council to support refugee youth, and Ju Nay Say, who balances a job, volunteer work and study while raising her family.
We want to welcome and support more new Kiwis like these three. It’s great the government has announced an additional 600 places for Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years, but we know we can – and should – do more. New Zealand’s refugee quota needs to increase.
And don’t forget the most important way you can help in your community – by reaching out. You can make a world of difference to a new Kiwi simply by starting a conversation over the fence or sharing a meal.
Want to get involved? Find out how.