Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Neil Finn and Topp Twins welcome refugees

If Jools and Lynda Topp had their way New Zealand-bound refugees would be welcomed into the country with home baking, the best cutlery and a fresh cuppa.

But a sunsoaked concert at Auckland's Silo Park with some of the country's most loved entertainers was a close second.

A concert tonight aimed to celebrate the arrival of the first of 1000 Syrian refugees bound for New Zealand.

The star-studded line-up, organised by Kiwis On Board and Diva the Agency, also aimed to convince the Government to increase the number of refugees accepted to New Zealand and raise money for the Red Cross.

The Topp Twins with Syrian Refugee Sharif King. Photo / Chris Loufte
The Topp Twins with Syrian Refugee Sharif King. Photo / Chris Loufte

Families on picnic rugs gathered for live performances by Neil Finn, the Topp Twins, Hopetoun Brown, Thomas Oliver and the Jubilation Choir.

Lynda Topp urged New Zealanders to be open-armed and open-minded.

"There are some people who say we have our own people who are still struggling, and we do, but we still need to do our bit for these people," Lynda Topp said.

The Topp Twins said they didn't have the skills needed to help the refugees directly so were "offering our voice" to raise money.

"We are performers and singers so that is what we can do to raise money and give it to the people who have the skills to help," Lynda said.

Slipping into their alter-egos of Camp Leader and Camp Mother the Twins said refugees should be treated with the same hospitality Kiwis showed to other guests.

"We would love to introduce them to the lamington and the asparagus roll. Any refugee who comes to New Zealand will not be a refugee for long -- they will be a Kiwi," Jools said.

The pair met Syrian refugee Sharif King who was to perform with Neil Finn at tonight's concert. King, a rapper, met Finn at the Mangere Refugee centre last week.

King told the New Zealand Herald through an interpreter the two weeks he had spent in New Zealand had given him hope.

"Before I came here life was very different, it has been a big change," he said."The first thing I want to do is learn English. Then I can perform in English."

- NZ Herald

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