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Enabling New Zealanders to Sponsor Refugees


Refugee sponsor family (Source:UNHCR)
Refugee sponsor family (Source:UNHCR)

HOST Aotearoa New Zealand partners with Immigration New Zealand to expand the refugee sponsorship programme


Today, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced HOST Aotearoa New Zealand (HOST International NZ) as the new partner organisation to support the implementation of the community refugee sponsorship programme throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.


‘The appointment of a partner organisation is a significant milestone for the community refugee sponsorship programme, signalling progress in the development of the extended pilot as it prepares to welcome its first refugees in mid-2022’, reads the announcement from MBIE.


The new arrangement is a partnership between HOST Aotearoa New Zealand and MBIE to enable all New Zealanders to play a role in welcoming refugees to New Zealand by providing structured support to sponsor groups and monitoring community outcomes. MBIE will remain responsible for approving refugee sponsor groups and prospective refugee applications.

Birgit Grafarend-Watungwa has been appointed as the National Program Manager and will lead the implementation of the programme. She comes with 20 years experience in the refugee sector across New Zealand and will build a small team and key partners to support the program.

‘There is a lot of interest in local communities across Aotearoa New Zealand to actively support the settlement of refugees. Following the successful pilot in 2018, we are excited that the Government has agreed to extend the programme for a further three years to resettle a total of 150 sponsored refugees. We feel privileged to be working alongside communities, mana whenua, sponsoring organisations and refugees throughout this journey,’ Birgit says.

Approved sponsors can be any group of individuals that are willing to sign an undertaking to ensure that the refugee/s that they sponsor are appropriately supported financially and socially for their first two years in New Zealand. This includes supporting refugees to secure accommodation, find work, enrol in education, build social relationships and learn about life in New Zealand. HOST will coach sponsors throughout the process from application and will provide training, introductions and advice to ensure effective integration of newcomers.


HOST Aotearoa New Zealand is part of the HOST International family providing interventions across the Asia Pacific to make life better for refugees and host communities, promoting humanity, hope and dignity. We have extensive experience coaching communities to support refugee integration and value partnership and collaboration. We look forward to collaborating with a variety of stakeholders to welcome more refugees through community sponsorship.


Community groups who are interested in sponsoring a refugee can contact HOST Aotearoa New Zealand or go to the sponsor section on our website. You can also view the MBIE website page on Refugee Sponsorship.



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