For many of the 100 refugees who attended a Cornwallis picnic recently, it was their first time at the beach.

The annual picnic, organised by not-for-profit organisation, English Language Partners, was held at Cornwallis Beach on December 6.

Refugees from Afghanistan, Palestine, Burma, China, Iran, and Iraq brought a plate of food from their own countries.

Organiser and English Language Partners manager Jeane Harding said it was an opportunity to celebrate the end of year and Christmas.


"It's a new experience for them to come to a New Zealand beach," she said.

"We wanted to show them something about the real New Zealand and I think if you look around, there's about 100 people here absolutely loving being in the peace, in the sunshine, sitting in the shade and going in the sea, which is what being a Kiwi is all about."

Harding said all the refugees have their own stories as to how they ended up in New Zealand.

"They are not here [by] choice. They've had to leave their homes," she said.

"And they're here for sanctuary, which is what we give them."

Sayed Mohd Jalal moved from Myanmar to New Zealand with his two kids.

"I'm very happy, it's very nice to gather, eat with everyone, play, swimming."

English teacher Mareena Illyas said she thinks more refugees should be encouraged to come to New Zealand.


"Auckland has already become a melting pot of different cultures and we should celebrate it."