News: SWDC welcomed into Welcoming Communities programme

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is delighted to announce South Wairarapa District Council is amongst the latest group of Councils to join the Welcoming Communities programme.

South Wairarapa is one of 26 Councils now signed up to the scheme, which helps communities create welcoming environments for newcomers, specifically recent migrants, former refugees and international students.

South Wairarapa District Council Mayor Alex Beijen said: “Welcoming Communities is a concerted effort led by the Council which invites everyone in our district to make our patch a welcoming place.

“Churches and community groups, business groups, sports clubs, iwi and hapū, various agencies – we can all play a part in making South Wairarapa a place where newcomers feel that they can make connections quickly and find their feet.

“It’s important to feel valued and able to contribute to your community, and people feel that when they see diversity celebrated. If you look around, we already have a variety of nationalities and cultures represented in our seasonal workforce, among our winemakers, business migrants, the artistic community and in our schools.

“If we as a district can do more to reflect the wide range of people here, and let that become the norm, we will be richer for it as well as making others feel more at home.

“Welcoming Communities not only aims to welcome newcomers into our community, it works to make us stronger as a whole,” Mayor Beijen said.

Funding from the Welcoming Communities programme will allow the Council to employ a dedicated co-ordinator to help identify and implement a strategy for the next three years.

The concept relies heavily on involving local residents in the programme’s development and delivery, increasing social engagement and providing opportunities to build social connections.

South Wairarapa joins eight Councils in this intake, meaning that 38 per cent of the country’s city and district councils are now committed to the programme.

“We are grateful for the enthusiasm shown and the desire from Councils around the country to be part of such an important initiative that began five years ago,” said Fiona Whiteridge, General Manager of Refugee and Migrant Services, at INZ.

“This programme is an incredibly important tool for building strong and integrated communities, for making newcomers, no matter their background, feel included, so everyone can thrive.”

Immigration New Zealand provides funding, resources, accreditation, best practice information, networking opportunities, programme evaluation and guidance to participating councils.

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