Learn­ing how to roll out the wel­come signs

The Southland Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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