Not 'NZ' but 'New Land for me and my children'
"Not 'New Zealand' but 'New Land for me and
my children' "
Speaking at the recent launch of North Shore City's new Settlement Support initiative, were the Rubaduka family, refugee settlers from the central African nation of Burundi.
Now residents of Bayswater in North Shore, Emmanuel, Angela and children Michelle (8), Peter (14) and Larry (18), retold the story of their arrival in New Zealand having fled a refugee camp and a war that had already claimed close family members.
"It's the first time I'm not dreaming about grenades, or bayonets in my back - now I sleep, I wake up, I eat and I am satisfied," said Angela Rubaduka describing her family's new life in North Shore City. "For me it's not just 'New Zealand' but also 'New Home for me and my children'. "
Settlement Support North Shore has been established under a Department of Labour initiative, in response to the NZ Settlement Strategy, which aims to improve the settlement environment for migrants and refugees. North Shore City Council is the lead agency for North Shore city. Its key roles are to facilitate the strengthening of relationships between the many and varied community service organisations and central government agencies involved in settlement in the North Shore City area
Historically, settlement services in New Zealand have been provided by a range of government and non-government agencies, and have not always been well connected. In response, Government launched the New Zealand Settlement Strategy in 2005, which is now being implemented by other lead agencies such as local authorities, around the country.
The Rubadukas expressed their gratitude to New Zealand, the immigration service and the 'welcome' they received at Auckland Airport.
"In Burundi we had learned to fear authority, but the immigration man who greeted us just said 'Welcome to your new home' - it was so powerful to my heart," said Emmanuel Rubaduka.
At one-tenth the land area of New Zealand Burundi's 6 million plus residents make it Africa's most densely populated country. It has suffered civil conflicts, the latest stretching over a decade from 1993 during which more than 200,000 Burundians died.
However, the Rubaduka family expressed concern at the difficulty of finding basic and relevant information once they had arrived in Northcote from the Mangere refugee centre.
"There was no place we could go to ask for help, or to find work - we didn't know what to do," says Emmanuel, who is studying social work at Massey University's Albany campus. Emmanuel was deeply thankful for the assistance his family received from the Northcote Baptist Church who he said provided them 'physical, emotional and spiritual support'.
North Shore City Mayor, George Wood, pointed to the economic value and social diversity that migrants and refugees contributed to the city, and confirmed a new commitment to help achieve 'good' settlement outcomes.
"We are a nation of migrants, with 20% of our 210,000 population born outside New Zealand," says George Wood. "Everyone benefits from the skills and resources that migrants bring. Those who settle successfully are able to make a significant contribution to economic growth and become part of our local, regional and national communities. The key, is 'successful settlement'," he says.
Addressing the community organisations and central government agencies that provide settlement services to migrants and refugees, the Mayor warned that success would not happen overnight and would only happen with shared belief and open communication.