Levin is preparing to welcome its first intake of Colombian refugees.
Immigration New Zealand general manager border and visa operations Nicola Hogg said they were looking to resettle around 70 Colombian quota refugees in Levin in the next year.
The first intake of refugees to arrive in Levin will be three families consisting in total of seven people. They were meant to arrive last year, but were delayed when Covid-19 restricted travel arrangements.
"We expect the first three Colombian families to arrive in New Zealand in July," she said.
"Once suitable housing has been found, we would expect the families to move to their new life in Levin by September."
The families will spend their first six weeks at Te Āhuru Mōwai o Aotearoa (Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre) in Auckland where they receive help to prepare for life in New Zealand and to move into the community.
Refugees who enter New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme spend their first six weeks at the Mangere centre. Services offered there include English language classes, health screening and mental health support.
Hogg said New Zealand's Refugee Quota was a reflection of the Government's international humanitarian commitments to provide protection to refugees who were unable to return safely to their home country.
Initially, the refugee quota was 750 refugees, which was extended to 1000 in 2018.
INZ announced eight refugee resettlement locations would continue to be provided by the New Zealand Red Cross: Palmerston North, Levin, Masterton, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Dunedin and Invercargill.
New refugee settlement location providers were Kāhui Tū Kaha (Auckland), Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust (Hamilton), Purapura Whetu Trust (Christchurch), Safer Mid Canterbury (Ashburton) and Presbyterian Support South Canterbury (Timaru).
INZ general manager, refugee and migrant services Fiona Whiteridge said the new contracts begin on July 1 and include an increase from 12 months to up to 24 months of settlement support.
It had also extended assistance to families and their sponsors who have been approved to come to New Zealand under a 'Refugee Family Support Category' visa.
Already there has been resettlement hui held in Levin with the different community organisations involved working together to help each other assist in the wellbeing and assimilation of the former refugees.
Horowhenua District Council community development adviser Liz Tomescu said another resettlement hui would be held in Levin on Wednesday, June 29, where the discussion would:
· focus on what services and care are available and find out where the gaps are
· do our best to map out pathways/scenarios for refugees through health, employment, education, social wellbeing and community and services
· make connections, get to know each other better and strengthen our relationships and while working towards the same goals and outcomes.