June 20th marks a momentous occasion worldwide: World Refugee Day. This day is dedicated to honouring the resilience and contributions of refugees globally. In New Zealand, it’s a moment to reflect on the positive impact of refugees on the community and to acknowledge the efforts of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in facilitating their new beginnings.

A Commitment to Refugees

Originating from a United Nations initiative in 2001, this year’s theme for World Refugee Day champions the vision of creating a welcoming environment for refugees. INZ, spearheaded by Fiona Whiteridge, General Manager of Refugee and Migrant Services, is pivotal in these efforts. Ms. Whiteridge notes the organization’s dedication to supporting refugees as they integrate into New Zealand society.

Achievements in Numbers

INZ is on track to meet its annual Refugee Quota, aiming to resettle 1,500 refugees in New Zealand each fiscal year. Additionally, the organization is progressing well with the Refugee Family Support Category, aiming to process 600 visa applications to help reunify families of former refugees.

Here’s a look at the refugee intake over the past few years:

  • FY 2023-2024: 1,229
  • FY 2022-2023: 1,507
  • FY 2021-2022: 754
  • FY 2020-2021: 263
  • FY 2019-2020: 797
  • FY 2018-2019: 1,007

In FY 2023-24, the main nationalities supported under the Refugee Quota included:

  • Syria: 298
  • Afghanistan: 265
  • Myanmar: 154
  • Pakistan: 104
  • Iran: 79

Collaborative Efforts

INZ collaborates closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide secure pathways for the most vulnerable. The New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy further supports the work, which envisions the successful integration and thriving of former refugees and their families in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Ms. Whiteridge emphasizes the collective effort required to realize this vision, involving NGOs, volunteers, community groups, and other government agencies. Programs such as those conducted at the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre, Te Āhuru Mōwai o Aotearoa, are central to these initiatives.

A Welcoming Community

The Welcoming Communities programme plays a crucial role. It supports local government, mana whenua, and communities to foster inclusive environments for newcomers. According to Ms. Whiteridge, the objective at the Māngere centre is to ensure that by the end of the 5-week resettlement program, all residents feel empowered, confident, and ready to enrich New Zealand with their diverse cultures, skills, and knowledge.

Global Recognition

The efforts at the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre have not gone unnoticed. Adrian Edwards, UNHCR Representative for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, praises the program. “In 2024, with over 50 conflicts worldwide and 120 million people forcibly displaced, New Zealand’s approach provides a critical model for global refugee support,” says Edwards. The integration and warm reception refugees experience in New Zealand is a benchmark for what is possible in refugee support worldwide.


World Refugee Day in New Zealand is more than a celebration; it’s a reaffirmation of the nation’s commitment to being a place of safety and new beginnings for those who have had to leave their homes. It’s a testament to the country’s ongoing effort to welcome refugees and integrate them as valued members of the community.

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