We were honoured to be invited to the Commitment Signing event for Te Waharoa Ki Ngaa Haapori – Kirikiriroa/Welcoming Communities Plan – Hamilton, which took place on 1 April 2022 at Claudelands Park, Hamilton.
The Welcoming Communities Programme is an initiative to ensure that Hamilton feels like home to anyone who chooses to move there. Our Project co-Lead Anjum attended the event on our behalf, and had this to say:
“Last year, Hamilton City Council was accepted into the Immigration New Zealand Welcoming Communities programme. However, due to Covid restrictions, the Welcoming Communities Commitment Signing Event was postponed until 1 April. I’m looking forward to IACT supporting the Welcoming Plan through hosting workshops for leadership and staff on belonging and inclusion.”
The following article is from Our Hamilton (originally published 25 March 2021), and gives a great overview on what The Welcoming Communities programme hopes to achieve.
Hamilton City Council has been recognised for its desire to promote inclusion and welcome new residents to the city from diverse parts of the world.
The Council has been accepted into the Immigration New Zealand Welcoming Communities programme after applying last year. The programme, which now includes 13 councils across nine regions, aims to promote diversity and inclusion.
The application panel commended Council for being “well advanced in its thinking, and actions, in relation to welcoming and inclusion”.
Community Committee Chair Mark Bunting said Council’s Community and Social Development team had put significant effort into building strong networks with different ethnic communities and providing new migrants with tools and resources to help them settle into their new home.
Community funding offered by Council also helps to support ethnic community group operations and events.
“If you look around, you’ll realise that Hamilton is a wonderfully varied place, rich in culture from many parts of the world. Thanks in large part to the terrific leadership and enthusiasm of Councillor Kesh, we’re even better placed for people to see Hamilton as a safe and inviting space to not only call home but to really thrive,” Councillor Bunting said.
“A thriving community is where families and individuals can be safe and secure enough to grow. It’s fantastic that we’ll now be joining a broader ecosystem and can draw on the knowledge, experiences and resources that being part of a national programme offers.”
The Welcoming Communities programme supports councils to share knowledge with each other and to develop and carry out welcoming plans. Participating councils can also work through four stages of accreditation, from being a committed community to one that excels.
The programme is connected to similar programmes in other countries, creating an international network.
“The Welcoming Communities programme has been instrumental in building links in communities and promoting diversity and inclusion,” said Fiona Whiteridge, Immigration New Zealand’s General Manager of Refugee and Migrant Services.
“Making newcomers welcome and included, be they migrants or Kiwis who are shifting towns, can only make our communities stronger.”
Mayor Paula Southgate said participation in the programme had the potential to add layers of benefits and add to the vibrancy of the city.
“Diversity of people and their cultures brings huge strength to any city and Hamilton is no exception. We already have more than 160 ethnic groups in our city and they add incredible depth and vitality,” she said.
Over 46,000 Hamiltonians were born overseas, according to results from the latest Census. The city has been a resettlement centre for refugees since 2005, with around 1300 now calling Hamilton home.
Hamilton City Council will now work with our community partners to develop a Welcoming Plan to coordinate activities across the city and find ways to help our newest Hamiltonians settle in smoothly.