Learning how to roll out the welcome signs
Southland has been selected as one of five regions to pilot a new Welcoming Communities initiative.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s pilot programme identified Southland as one of several possible places in New Zealand to roll out the programme.
Immigration New Zealand spokesperson Catherine Proffitt said evidence showed that communities that work together to welcome to newcomers, contributed to building a place where everyone felt like they belonged.
‘‘This, in turn, means migrants will choose to stay and settle long-term in Southland, which helps build shared prosperity and growth for everyone.’’
Southland was invited to be part of the pilot because it was an area where demographics were changing rapidly, and people needed to be equipped to deal with that reality, Proffitt said.
‘‘We were also very keen to work with Southland because of the strong relationships we already have here, and because there’s already a strong base of good work going on across the region to build from.’’
Southland Multicultural Council president Meggy Bartlett-McBride said Southland was a great area to be selected. Migrants contributed significantly to the economy but also to the community, Bartlett-McBride said.
While Southland was a great place, there was still a lot that needed to be improved on in terms of bringing migrants into the community, she said.
Many migrants felt isolated when they arrived in the region so it was important they were encouraged to participate in the community, BartlettMcBride said.
Venture Southland group manager tourism, events and community Bobbi Brown said the proportion of people in Southland born overseas was lower than the national average but the proportion was increasing.
‘‘The places where people come from is also changing; previously the biggest proportion of migrants in Southland has been from the UK and Ireland. However, more recently, 50 per cent of new arrivals are from Asia.’’
The pilot has been allocated funding of $100,000 during two years.
A governance group consisting of representatives from the councils, Community Trust of Southland, Immigration NZ and iwi will be formed to guide the pilot, which will be delivered through Venture Southland.