New Zealand mayors to seek increase in refugee quota

4 September 2015

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says many key mayors have supported a request asking Government to double the refugee quota from 750 to 1500 over the next five years.

Following a presentation by Amnesty International to a meeting of metro mayors called by Mayor Wade-Brown at Local Government New Zealand, the mayors present supported taking more refugees as long as there is appropriate resettlement support.

Mayor Wade-Brown is coordinating the response and says the advantages of diversity for our culture and our economy are good reasons for welcoming people from different countries to our cities.

The letter addressed to the Prime Minister and being circulated to gather signatures from mayors around New Zealand says, ‘our moral duty is to help the human family far away from our relatively peaceful and prosperous country.”

“We are currently doing some research on the impact of increasing the number of refugees across the country and the resources that would be required,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

Mayors including Auckland, Invercargill, Christchurch, Dunedin, Marlborough, Gisborne, Lower Hutt, and Hamilton have indicated their support.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester has signalled Wellington is willing and able to support an increase of refugees into the Capital.

“I strongly believe that New Zealand should be doing more and the regions are the answer to taking up more of the slack. Currently the Wellington region takes around 200 refugees a year. Wellington is firmly committed to doing its part and helping out,” he says.

“I have talked with our housing team and, between Wellington City Council and Housing New Zealand, we are confident we can house more people. We would seek cross-region and cross-sector support to ensure refugees are housed and supported on an on-going basis,” he says.

The Red Cross, churches, social agencies and large numbers of compassionate Wellingtonians have shown a strong willingness to provide on-going support, which is important to ensure that refugees are welcomed and provided with language and training assistance to help integrate them into a new country.