Kiwis urged to 'extend a hand of friendship' as New Zealand's refugee quota set to double in 2018

Refugee advocates are welcoming the coalition government's decision to double the refugee quota and are urging Kiwis to welcome the newcomers. 

Under the previous government New Zealand's annual refugee quota was 750.

Along with a portion of the 600 extra emergency places for refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis New Zealand's 2016 intake was just 0.02% of the current 4.6 million population.

Australia, on the other hand, took in 17,544 refugees during that time, accounting for 0.07% of their 24.13 million population.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, estimates suggest there are 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.

Of that 22.5 million people are refugees.

Under the new Labour-led government the quota is in the process of being doubled to bring in 1500 refugees annually starting in 2018.

"We're really pleased the government has confirmed its policy to double the quota, we'd like to see that policy implemented as quickly as possible," National Migration Programmes Manager for the Red Cross, Rachel O'Connor told 1 NEWS.

She says there is still more to be done.

There are currently 22 million people who have refugee status and less than one per cent will actually have a chance to resettle. - Rachel O'Connor

"Resettlement is not the only answer, as a country we need to make responses to what's happening overseas, so that's around peace building, providing humanitarian aid overseas as well.

Green Party MP and refugee, Golriz Ghahraman says her party will continue to work with the government on their policy to increase the quota to 4000 over six years.

"They're certainly open to us taking more refugees, and sort of doing our fair share on that stage."

But a larger quota will put a strain on resettlement services highlighting a need for significant increases in funding.

"We know resettlement is really hard and there are times when there are not enough services or not enough resources," says Ms O'Connor.

During the 2017 election campaign Ms Ghahraman noticed a lack of resources meant many NGOs or small community organisations have had to turn into service providers.

"They're under so much stress, so one of the key messages was we actually can't cope with more people, even on a family reunification ground.

"The good news is refugees actually quite quickly do move on after receiving that initial wraparound service, they do integrate; they do end up over-achieving in things like education and health."

As the quota doubles this coming year, the Family Reunification Category will also be increased.

"So that's something that is one of the wins we got," said Ms Ghahraman.

"Often someone gets out and they can't take all the kids with them immediately or they'll end up with a niece or nephew who is an orphan they were caring for that they need to be reunited with if that person's in a really vulnerable situation back in a war zone."

What's it like for refugees resettling in New Zealand?

Ms O'Connor says families arriving through the refugee quota inevitably need help at the start with services like the Mangere Refugee Centre, and housing.

"But the families who are arriving are incredibly resilient, they've overcome things that often we can't imagine, they come with courage.

"We hear story after story of people who have had to make impossible decisions in just these extraordinary circumstances, so people are just incredibly brave."

One of the key things that makes resettlement go smoothly is having a "welcoming community", says Ms O'Connor.

"We had a phone call when the Syrians first arrived down in Dunedin, and at first we thought it was going to be a complaint phone call.

"He said, 'We've got refugee kids running around the street'.

"And very quickly he said, 'I want to know what can I do to help? I want to buy some toys. I'm a four wheel driver, do you think the dad would want to go four-wheel driving with me?'

"That's exactly what we need, just really good hearted Kiwis who are prepared to extend a hand of friendship and welcome people into the community."

Just like Kiwis help in their time of need Iraqi refugee Zaid Al-Jarrah says refugees want to give back to the country.

"If you give them an opportunity to be a part of this country, they will participate as a New Zealand and Kiwis support them, they will pay back and contribute the building of the country," he told 1 NEWS.

However, it is important to remember this is not why refugees deserve to live in New Zealand says Ms Ghahraman.

"No one deserves to be tortured because they're gay. And no one deserves to be tortured because they blogged about some democracy issue, because those are refugees."

"And no one deserves to be in a war, to raise their kids under rubble."

"So there is the gratefulness, refugees do work harder, but I'm uncomfortable with that narrative because we have recognised that humanity means you don't have to put up with those things and you deserve to be safe.

"So let's not put all of that pressure on people to overachieve just to deserve safety."
 

As the refugee quota doubles next year advocates are hoping more money is put towards resettlement services to cope with the increase. Source: 1 NEWS



Rentable e-scooters could 'revolutionise' way Aucklanders get around with 2500 set to hit city's streets

A fleet of e-scooters is about to hit Auckland streets which the public can rent to get around town.

A media release today says an initial order of 500 Onzo e-scooters are en route to Auckland and set to hit the streets next month.

The company says a further 2000 will join them in coming months.

With a 250W motor, the e-scooters are capable of top speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour and can cover around 30 kilometres before requiring a recharge.

"E-scooters are great because they make travelling easy and fun," Onzo Chief Growth Officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don’t require helmets. They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office.

"I think this is totally going to revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around this city. We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day."

The scooters are said to feature regenerative braking to recharge the battery when the brakes are applied, or when a rider is going downhill.

They also have front and rear lights for added safety.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will simply use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

Onzo e-scooter. Source: Supplied


Winston Peters explains party's support for raising refugee quota

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says NZ First shared the Labour Party's "aspiration" to increase the refugee quota, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced it will be raised to 1500 today.

The NZ First Party leader's position was in stark contrast to comments made at the start of the month at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," Mr Peters told media at the time.

The Deputy PM went on to argue there were other priorities for the Government.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

However, while standing next to Ms Ardern during the announcement today he took a much softer line on the refugee issue.

"This is about people not about politics and controversy, the fact is it was put to me in Nauru that the 1500 figure was already there, which it wasn't.

"The Labour Party policy I knew was an aspiration towards that, so was New Zealand First's an aspiration towards that, and I knew the Greens had a higher target," Mr Peters said.

"All I did was put out the plain facts and to say that it was a work in progress and I'm not surprised with the speed at which the progress has taken place.

"This was always on the cards that we'd get it done when we had all the background work done on refugee centres and a host of other things," he continued.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's refugee quota was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years.

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre  

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from July 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

"It puts New Zealand much more in line with the humanitarian policies of other developed countries."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said the increase was "about people, not about politics and controversy". 

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years. 

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre 

ONN 1 News at 6 promo image
For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Background

Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS


Don Brash says Massey's Vice Chancellor should consider resigning after email dump

Former National Party leader Don Brash is calling for Massey University's vice-chancellor to consider her position, saying it's "almost untenable".

The university prevented Dr Brash from speaking at its Manawatū campus last month.

He was due to give a speech about his time in politics, but vice-chancellor Jan Thomas cancelled the talk for security reasons.

The university had cited a Facebook post on 3 August that linked to the event page and included the comment "take a gun".

But the former National Party leader is calling on the university's Vice Chancellor to resign. Source: 1 NEWS

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act contain correspondence to and from Ms Thomas in the run-up to the cancellation.

In one email, on 9 July, the vice-chancellor said she did not want a "te tiriti led university to be seen to be endorsing racist behaviours".

On 10 July, Ms Thomas emailed to say she would like to know the options for banning the politics club from holding events on campus.

She said the "racist behaviour of Dr Brash - given te reo is an official language of NZ and we are a tiriti-led university - can't be ignored".

Speaking from China, Dr Brash said he considered Ms Thomas' position almost untenable and told RNZ that he believes she was "totally misleading".

"Quite frankly, I don't know if she can stay in her position."

Dr Brash has previously said he believed it was his views, rather than safety concerns, that led to him being banned from the publicly-funded university.

The documents also contain many emails sent to the university objecting to its cancellation decision.

- By Amy Williams

rnz.co.nz

Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas and Don Brash Source: rnz.co.nz