Refugee issues in
the spotlight at hui

Around 60 members of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Leadership Network gathered in Auckland over a weekend recently to discuss refugee issues.

Leadership Network manager Adam McConnochie and network members Radhika Joseph and Byron Sanders talk about the value of the hui

The network's Refugee Hui gave participants insights into the stories of refugees coming to New Zealand and what is done in this country to help settle them. Fifty percent of the country’s 1,000 refugee quota is allocated to Asia-Pacific.

“We ran this hui because we believe it is important these young Kiwi leaders understand some of the key issues New Zealand faces with regards to refugees, particularly with Asia,” says Adam McConnochie, the Foundation’s manager for leadership and entrepreneurship.

Leadership Network members talk about the key learnings they took away from the hui

As part of the hui, the group visited the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, where they were briefed on New Zealand’s refugee resettlement programme.

The Mangere Refugee Centre is where all refugees arriving in New Zealand spend their first six-eight weeks. At the centre they are taught about New Zealand culture and learn essential skills that will help them settle into life in New Zealand.

Network member Angela Lim was impressed by what she saw. 

"It’s good to know that New Zealand takes a really considerate approach, and holistic approach, to integrating the support refugees need before they are resettled into the community," she says.

The group heard the personal stories of Abbas Nazari and Rez Gardi, who shared their journeys as refugees settling in New Zealand.

Abbas, who is a network member originally from Afghanistan, says he draws strength from his experiences as a refugee.

“It’s a big blessing for me to have that sort of background because it’s a big source of strength for me, and it also gives me great perspective when I come to analyse issues.”

Rez, the first Kurdish female lawyer in the country and 2017 Young New Zealander of the Year, encouraged network members to help change the narrative around refugees and migrants.

“We have on the one hand anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiments on the rise, and on the one hand more awareness and understanding of people coming from diverse backgrounds and the challenges they have experienced," she says.

 “I think it’s really crucial to a play a part in changing the narratives to challenge the stereotypes that exist around refugees and migrants that are stigmatising people that belong to those labels."

Rez Gardi and Abbas Nazari talk about how network members can play their part in changing the narrative around refugees and migrants and the value of the hui

The hui also provided participants a chance to hear from some of the big players in the refugee space, including New Zealand Red Cross and Amnesty International New Zealand. During an interactive session, they learned about the work these organisations do and about opportunities available to them to get involved in refugee resettlement work.

Network member Alice Wang says the hui experience was eye-opening and enlightening.

“The hui has been an incredible experience just to learn about the journey of refugees in New Zealand,” she says. “It’s been really inspiring hearing from speakers and learning about their journeys." 

The Refugee Hui is the last of a series of hui the network has held throughout New Zealand this year.

The Foundation's Leadership Network is a global professional network at the forefront of developing and maintaining strong links between New Zealand and Asia.

Established in 2007, the network now has about 430 members from diverse personal and professional backgrounds who are based throughout New Zealand, in Asia and beyond.