In November 2015, Dunedin was selected as a new refugee resettlement location.  Dunedin joins the five resettlement locations that currently exist: Auckland region, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington region and Nelson, where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

The Refugee Resettlement Programme operates in accordance with the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy and is designed to help a person from a refugee background to live in New Zealand.

The overarching vision for the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy is as follows:

People from refugee backgrounds are participating fully and integrated socially and economically as soon as possible. This is so that they are living independently, undertaking the same responsibilities, and exercising the same rights as other New Zealanders and have a strong sense of belonging to their own community and to New Zealand.

The five goals of the Strategy are:

  1. Self-sufficiency – All working-age refugees are in paid work or are supported by a family member in paid work.
  2. Participation – Refugees actively participate in New Zealand life and have a strong sense of belonging here.
  3. Health and wellbeing – Refugees and their families enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives.
  4. Education – English language skills help refugees participate in education and in daily life.
  5. Housing – Refugees live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes, without needing government housing assistance.

Nationally Red Cross are contracted to support new arrivals in their areas of resettlement and to help them understand the New Zealand culture, manage systems, and find work.

All refugees are given permanent resident status upon entering New Zealand and have the same rights as any other New Zealand permanent resident in the areas of education, health, employment and social welfare.

In 2016 resettlement will commence in Dunedin with up to 180 refugees arriving each year.  New arrivals will come to Dunedin at eight week intervals.  To begin with, arrivals will be from the additional Syrian refugee quota but future arrivals will be from other countries that are currently part of the refugee quota. In the future, Dunedin will see family members joining a person from a refugee background under the refugee family reunification programme.


The Southern DHB continues to plan for the refugee resettlement programme commencing in Dunedin. Initial planning and activities will continue for an extended period of time and with the arrival of the first cohort we mark the beginning of a shared journey with the Southern DHB. The Southern DHB has developed a set of values and overarching objectives which will direct the work of the Southern DHB in partnership with the new members of the community.