Hamilton will have more refugees arriving in the city this year because earthquake-ravaged Christchurch can't take them.

About 80 refugees from Colombia and Burma are likely to settle in Hamilton this year - an increase on the 60 or so who arrived in the Waikato last year.

Jo De Lisle, of the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre, said her group had received notice that a larger number of refugees, here under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees quota, would trickle into Hamilton after their six-week initiation at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre because of a shortage of housing in Christchurch.

"We were notified some time ago they won't be sending any to Christchurch this year so there may be an increase in the numbers coming to Hamilton.


"It's not like a flood of people, these people have support, they go to refugee services that use volunteers who work with each family and have access to lots of services and are using those services and want to get on with it very quickly."

Asked if Hamilton was too boring for refugees and those moving here would likely want to leave as quickly as they arrived, Ms De Lisle said many felt the place was "quite refreshing".

"They come to somewhere which is safe and quiet. They can see everyone in their street and what's going on and I think they like the predictability of things here."

Among the estimated 200 Colombian refugees who now call Hamilton home is Adriana Salazar, 30, who was among the first to arrive with her son in 2007 from Manizales.

The former president of the Waikato Colombian Association is now a dental technician working with the Waikato District Health Board. She would not elaborate on the reasons she left her homeland and would only say "it was too dangerous".

Two years ago her mother, father, sister and brother also arrived in Hamilton and are settling into a much quieter life in a much smaller city.

"For some people we have a lot more exciting things in Colombia but Hamilton is safe and we have more opportunities and it's good for families.

"You have to find your way ... for me it's not boring."


Waikato Refugee Services manager Rachel O'Connor said the numbers of refugees destined for Hamilton would not change the overall humanitarian quota which sees an average of 750 refugees referred by the UNHCR each year to New Zealand.

She said while refugees were overwhelmed at how friendly, clean and safe New Zealand was they sometimes struggled with the notion that some of their family and friends were still in dire situations in their homelands.

"But we find that they become incredibly patriotic and want to contribute in their communities," said Ms O'Connor.

"Sometimes we worry they are going to get lost on the buses here in Hamilton."

Ms O'Connor said less than 0.5 per cent of the United Nations registered refugees get the chance to be resettled in another country.

Between 1980 and 2002, 16,556 refugees and displaced persons were resettled in New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme.