About the programme
Established in 2017, Welcoming Communities is a settlement programme that supports councils and their communities to create welcoming and inclusive environments for newcomers.
Rotorua Lakes Council joined the programme in July 2022, bringing the programme total to 26 Councils involved. The programme is led by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), in collaboration with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission.
Local Welcoming Communities Coordinator Raj Seneviratne, a migrant himself, was appointed to the role in August 2022 and is responsible for developing a ‘Welcoming Plan’ based on findings through engagement with newcomers, local iwi and the Rotorua community.
The ‘Welcoming Plan’ will involve local residents in developing, delivering and participating in welcoming activities that create communities where everyone can belong, participate, contribute and thrive.
Linking to Council’s Community Wellbeing work of connected, thriving communities that promote wellbeing and inclusion and the programme also feeds into the goal of He Hapori Pūmanawa I A Resilient Community which is about creating inclusive, liveable and safe neighbourhoods, giving residents a sense of place and confidence to be involved and connected.
Welcoming Communities is a founding member of Welcoming International, which has a membership of more than 250 councils and cities around the world.
Statement of support from the Rotorua Multicultural Council:
"The Rotorua Multicultural Council supported the application of Rotorua Lakes Council to become a Welcoming Community and look forward to working with the council to run programmes and events that will help new migrants to settle in Rotorua and to become active, contributing members of our community." - Dr Margriet Theron
Welcoming Communities news and resources
- Media release / July 2022 - Rotorua Lakes Council joins Welcoming Communities programme
- Media release / September 2022 - New welcoming communities Co-ordinator appointed
- Media release / May 2023 - Rotorua Lakes Council commits to community inclusivity
- Media release / July 2023 - Two councils take steps to create more welcoming and inclusive communities
- Programme background - Welcoming Communities | Immigration New Zealand
- Immigration New Zealand Welcoming Communities stories
- Contact Rotorua’s Welcoming Communities programme coordinator – Rajind Seneviratne – Email: email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Welcoming Communities is a settlement programme that supports local councils and their communities to create welcoming and inclusive environments for newcomers.
The programme creates communities where everyone can belong, participate, contribute and thrive. It increases social engagement and connections and grows inclusion. Ultimately, generating economic, social, civic and cultural benefits for the community.
Recent migrants, former refugees and international students. Newcomers are also New Zealanders returning home or moving from other parts of the country.
New councils (those joined after 2020) receive a combination of financial and non-financial support from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to implement the programme.
Grant funding is for three years and provided by the Ministry of Business innovation and Employment (MBIE) to appoint a coordinator tasked with collaborating with the community and stakeholders to develop a ‘Welcoming Plan’.
The Welcoming Communities programme implementation generates social, economic, civic and cultural benefits for the community and Aotearoa, New Zealand. It does this by:
- Building an economic advantage to attract, support and retain newcomers;
- Growing social inclusion through Welcoming Plan activities which increase social engagement and build connections;
- Proactively fostering an environment where everyone can be included;
- Building community resilience to respond to significant events such as natural disasters;
- Enhancing trust so that newcomers feel confident to raise unfair or biased behaviour, pressure or exploitation;
- The programme supports councils to build on and strengthen existing relationships and initiatives that welcome newcomers as well as identifying and creating new ones.
Moving and re-establishing yourself in a new community can be challenging. Here are some practical ways to welcome newcomers to our city:
- Start a conversation and share your knowledge;
- Help our newcomers find places they need and link them to local services;
- Connect them with community groups and activities;
- Introduce to others and help them understand Kiwi culture and language;
- Keep in touch to see how they’re doing.