Pathways to Settlement

Ngā Ara Whakatau Tangata

Our Pathways to Settlement programme offers support to former refugees in New Zealand as they begin their settlement journey.

Our Pathways to Settlement programme

Moving is hard for anyone but former refugees often need extra support. Through our Pathways to Settlement programme we help introduce families to their new home, and make their transition to life in New Zealand as smooth as possible.

The programme is about connecting families to their new community, whether it be introducing them to their neighbours, connecting them to services or showing them how to navigate public transport.

With the help of 130 trained staff and close to 1000 volunteers, we support people for up to 12 months after their arrival. The services we offer include:

  • Settlement support – practical support with day-to-day settling into the community.
  • Settlement planning with families – long term thinking and planning.
  • Orientation information sessions – tools needed to navigate life in a new community.
  • Community integration – linking former refugee families to their wider communities.

The refugee journey to New Zealand

New Zealand is one of a small number of countries that accept quota refugees referred by the United Nations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the international organisation responsible for protecting the world's refugees and seeking durable solutions for them. UNHCR decides which refugees are in the greatest need of resettlement and asks settlement countries to consider accepting them. The New Zealand Government then makes the final decision about who will be included in the quota.

All people accepted by New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme complete a six-week orientation programme at the Department of Immigration’s Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre before being settled in 13 communities across New Zealand. These areas include the following cities:

  • Auckland
  • Hamilton
  • Palmerston North
  • Levin
  • Masterton
  • Wellington
  • Nelson
  • Blenheim
  • Christchurch
  • Ashburton
  • Timaru
  • Dunedin
  • Invercargill

The New Zealand Government determines which areas people will be settled in based on a number of different factors.

What happens when refugees get here?

New Zealand Red Cross is the primary provider of community refugee settlement programmes in 11 of these locations. When former refugees arrive in their areas of settlement, they are supported by our qualified social workers, case workers, cross cultural workers and trained Refugee Support Volunteers who help them understand Kiwi culture, learn to manage systems and find work. Social workers work with the families to identify complex issues that may affect them - such as parenting in a new environment or addressing trauma - and provide appropriate support and referrals.

All quota refugees are given permanent resident status upon entering New Zealand and are eligible for a range of benefits and supplementary allowances on arrival. They enjoy the same rights as any other New Zealand permanent resident in the areas of education, health, employment and social welfare. After five years, they may apply for New Zealand citizenship.

Settlement countries, including Australia and New Zealand, also provide former refugees with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals.

Settlement in New Zealand is a life-changing experience as refugees are often settled to a country where the society, language and culture are completely different from their own and much is new to them. It is both challenging and rewarding for these individuals. We are here to help them along their journey to settlement.

Watch this video on the first two weeks of the Calero family's life in Invercargill:

How you can help

There are plenty of ways you can get involved with former refugees in your community including by donating goods to help turn houses into homes, becoming a Refugee Support Volunteer or giving a former refugee an employment opportunity.