Welcoming Communities standard for New Zealand

Image of different people in front of a marae

Around the world Kiwis are renowned for being friendly, hospitable and inclusive – qualities highlighted in a new two-year pilot programme titled Welcoming Communities. The Welcoming Communities Standard was launched on 12 December 2017.

The Office of Ethnic Communities is a partner agency for Welcoming Communities, which has been developed by Immigration New Zealand and local government councils in five regions. The Welcoming Communities programme provides support to local councils to create bridges between the receiving community and newcomers, which include recent migrants, former refugees, and international students.

Immigration New Zealand’s National Settlement Manager Judi Altinkaya says, “Communities that proactively foster an environment where newcomers feel welcomed are more likely to enjoy better social connections and engagement. The Welcoming Communities programme recognises that welcoming activities build links between local residents and newcomers – and with that comes positive social, economic and cultural benefits for the community and New Zealand as a whole.

Welcoming Communities activity seeks to involve local residents in welcoming activities. This new approach builds links between the receiving communities and newcomers.”

At the heart of the programme is the Standard which provides councils and community stakeholders with a benchmark for a successful welcoming community. The Standard has been finalised after public consultation earlier this year.

There are eight elements to the outcome-based standard. The elements include equitable access, inclusive leadership, civic engagement and participation and having welcoming public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds.

Councils and communities taking part in the pilot programme are Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty (Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council), Southland (Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council and Southland District Council), Whanganui (Whanganui District Council), Palmerston North (Palmerston North City Council) and Canterbury (represented by Ashburton and Selwyn District Councils).

The programme is being implemented as a pilot with a parallel evaluation process. Based on its success, it may be rolled out to other regions in New Zealand from July 2019.