Talk to any visitor to New Zealand and the first things they are likely to comment on are the beautiful scenery and the friendly locals.Â Kiwis are seen as friendly, hospitable and inclusive – qualities highlighted in a new programme launched in New Zealaland: ‘Welcoming Communities’ or TeÂ Waharoa ki ngÄ Hapori.
“We want newcomers to know that their cultures and identities are valued and that opportunities exist for them to get to know us well,” saysÂ Steve McGill, General Manager, Settlement, Protection & Attraction for Immigration New Zealand.
“We want them to fulfill their potential to contribute and be part of New Zealandâ€™s prosperity.”
Councils in five regions are working with their communities to pilot Welcoming Communities, which puts out the welcome mat to newcomers: migrants, former refugees, international students and family members.
The pilot communities taking part are: Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty, Southland, Whanganui, Palmerston North, and Canterbury.
Communities that make newcomers feel welcome are likely to enjoy better social outcomes, greater social cohesion and stronger economic growth. In this environment, everyone is able to fully participate in the economic, civic and social life of the community.
Building connections between locals and newcomers mean everyone feels included and knows they belong.
Itâ€™s not just New Zealand that sees value in being welcoming. Welcoming Communities is part of an international movement. Countries running similar initiatives include Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States of America.