Fleeing your homeland for a new life on the other side of the world is hard enough without having to learn a completely new language when you get there.
One of the immediate challenges facing the first Colombian refugees due to arrive in Horowhenua soon will be communication, according to Red Cross resettlement manager Jenny Pepworth.
Red Cross has the settlement contract for Horowhenua. Pepworth said a total of 80 former refugees would be homed in Horowhenua in the next 12 months, while 130 would be resettled in Palmerston North.
Coming to grips with a new language sooner rather than later would help make for a less- traumatic assimilation, she said.
An extended family of seven spanning three generations were among the first intake of former refugees due to arrive in Levin soon, after spending five weeks at a refugee resettlement centre in Mangere.
Other areas involved in the resettlement programme were Masterton, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Dunedin, Invercargill, Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru.
The former refugees would be given an introduction to New Zealand life while housed at Mangere, and equipped with things like bank accounts and IRD numbers.
Once arriving at their new homes, it was up to the service providers there to lead a co-ordinated community approach to help with housing, clothing, blankets, initial food items and whiteware.
The former refugees would also need access to various health services in helping deal with everything from trauma from their life experiences in Colombia, to dental requirements.
Horowhenua District Council had taken a lead by holding resettlement hui in Levin, helping bring together organisations like Work and Income, health authorities, local iwi and other agencies in co-ordinating a streamlined assimilation approach.
Former Colombian Carlos Paez, who is now living in Palmerston North with wife Katrina, spoke at the most recent hui and agreed that coming to New Zealand could be a huge culture shock initially.
He said New Zealanders were generally generous and understanding, and that attitude helped in attempting to overcome the language barriers as they learn the nuances of multicultural New Zealand.
Paez said often it was little things that made a huge difference, like the importance of being acknowledged with hello or goodbye. To not say anything might insinuate that something was amiss.
He said it was important to focus on the positives, and generally Colombians would thrive on feeling like they were part of a vibrant and accepting community.
Below are some key Spanish phrases, translated into English and Māori, that could go a long way in helping the former refugees feel at home.
10 basic phrases: Spanish - English - Māori
Hola mi amigo - Hello my friend - Kia ora e hoa
Buenos d'ias - Good morning - Ataata pai
Buenas trades - Good afternoon - Kia pai te ahiahi
Buenas noches - Good evening - ahiahi pai
Como estas? - How are you? - Kei te pehea koe?
Por favor - please - tēnā koa
Gracias - thank you - whakawhetai koe
De nada - you're welcome - tena koe
Adios - goodbye - ka kite ano koe
Juegas fūtbol? - Do you play soccer? - e takaro poikiri koe?