Levin will be one of a number of regional centres to house refugees from next year. In a new series the Horowhenua Chronicle looks at what creates refugees and what happens to them on the journey to New Zealand. In this third part of the series, editor Janine Baalbergen meets Deven Rai, who was not aware he was becoming a refugee the night his family hastily packed a few bags and hopped across the border of Bhutan into India.
Deven Rai was about eight in 1990 when his father, who had a government job in Bhutan, came home one night and urged his family to get out.
They lived walking distance from the border with India and had relatives there.
"I thought we were just visiting family for a while," he said.
"My mother was a teacher, which is also a government job. Both my parents were at high risk," he said.
The civil war which began in 1989 was becoming more violent and by mid-1990 the government instituted a 'one people, one nation' policy, effectively discriminating against anyone who was not ethnically Bhutanese, he said.
Deven's family were Nepalese and spoke Nepali at home.
"Suddenly Nepalese books were burned by the authorities and the teaching of the Nepalese language was banned from schools.
"It was a slow poisoning process that began in the 1970s.
"By the 1990s it became open policy and my father was threatened with jail for being Nepalese. So one day he came home and took us over the border.
"I still remember leaving the house that night, holding my father's hand tightly. I thought we were just going visiting. I do remember people shouting, and shots coming from the nearby school grounds that night. I knew there was something wrong at my place but at eight years old had no idea what was going on."
It would take him years to grasp what had happened that night, but the memories from that night and the many days and nights following are still fresh.
Soon the family moved further inland.
"We walked for five hours to get to a temporary transit camp. It was set up by Indian Nepalese. It wasn't a place for kids really and all we had was shelter. We spent a month or two there and then moved to Nepal.
By the end of 1990 many Nepalese Bhutanese had moved to Nepal, but the reality of the situation had still not sunk in for Deven.
"I still thought we were visiting more family or friends. I thought we were on holiday and I expected to go home any day."
He said he had never been to Nepal before. Once there the family settled along with thousands of others on a river bank along the river Mai.
"There was nothing there, so we build huts with whatever material we could find. My father, uncles and others went to the nearby villages to get food every day."
One of his most vivid memories is the fact that when there he watched people die every day.
"About 10-15 a day. We had no medical facilities there. One doctor came forward, a senior surgeon, also evicted from Bhutan."
It took a year for the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, to find them and offer help. They provided houses, schools as well as medical care.
"By 1992 there was a small sense of hope in the camp. My perspective suddenly changed, as the situation changed for the better."
Though he still did not understand the reason why they had left Bhutan, suddenly he knew he was a refugee and would never go home again.
On the positive side the new situation meant he could go to school. Eventually he went to India to do a Bachelor's degree and then moved to Kathmandu. Soon after he abandoned his plans to do a master's in political science as the family had begun applying for resettlement in New Zealand. It was 2007 by then.
In 2007, it was announced Bhutanese refugees would be included in New Zealand's annual refugee quota, and in 2008 the first selection mission to the camps in Nepal took place.
"When we met with the team from NZ Immigration we found them very helpful, so we applied to go to New Zealand."
They arrived in Auckland on July 4, 2008. On August 15 they touched down in Palmerston North.
Today Deven, along with Ruby and young Darshan, are still here. Deven works for the New Zealand Red Cross as a settlement youth worker. He also works part-time at Freyberg High School in Palmerston North as a bilingual tutor. He has been there since 2015.
"New Zealand is a very good country for newcomers," he said. "The people have been helpful and authorities supportive. I have good memories of starting work at Freyberg High School as a support staff worker.
"I have found that if you share your problems and questions New Zealand people will help."
He said refugees are normal people who have the same hopes and dreams as others do and they bring many skills and talents to their new communities.
• By January this year, around 112,800 Bhutanese refugees, or Lhotshampas, had been resettled in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
• The Red Cross helps many refugees settle in New Zealand and many go on to lead successful lives, such as Tauranga pie baker Patrick Lam, who is from Cambodia. See video below: