Rotorua Lakes Council commits to community inclusivity
A Statement of Commitment was signed by Rotorua Lakes Council today, officially recognising the district as part of the Welcoming Communities programme - Waharoa ki ngā Hapori.
The national programme was established in 2017 to support councils and their communities to create welcoming environments for newcomers, specifically recent migrants, former refugees and international students.
Rotorua Lakes Council joined the Programme, which is led by Immigration New Zealand, in collaboration with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission, in July 2022.
Council’s Welcoming Communities Co-ordinator, Raj Seneviratne, says the Statement of Commitment is the final step in reaching Stage 1 accreditation, signifying the partnership with Immigration New Zealand and the Rotorua community.
“More than 60 ethnicities are represented in the Rotorua community with each newcomer bringing a specific skillset, style and thinking pattern that diversifies and enriches our whole community. This programme extends our manaakitanga (hospitality) to newcomers who want to call Rotorua home.”
Joining Rotorua Lakes Council at today’s commitment signing were representatives from Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Rotorua Multicultural Council and Immigration New Zealand.
Mr Seneviratne says Rotorua Lakes Council is proud to be associated with the Welcoming Communities programme to build strong and integrated communities for newcomers.
“The national programme aligns with Councils priority of enhanced community wellbeing for all. Today’s signing acknowledges our commitment to the Welcoming Communities standards, proactively fostering an inclusive community where everyone can belong and participate which creates social, economic, civic and cultural benefits for our community.”
Accreditation as a Committed Welcoming Community means Council, alongside its community, values newcomers, is committed to building welcoming and inclusive communities and has taken active steps to create an environment where all residents can thrive and belong.
Mr Seneviratne says Council is working closely with partners and will soon be seeking feedback from migrant communities to evaluate the programme’s reach.
Immigration New Zealand provides funding, resources, accreditation, best practice information, networking opportunities, programme evaluation and guidance to participating councils. The programme allows councils to get further funding, support and advice to continue their Welcoming Communities work.