It's an annual event, but this year's 'International refugee day' had special significance.

"We feel the love of the New Zealander after the 15th of March attack on Christchurch," said Tammam Tamim of Manawatū Refugee Voice.

"You know, I was looking at the seats today and half of them are from refugees and this is the same number that we are getting every year - 90 to 100."

"This year more than 200 are New Zealanders," said Tamim.


The impact of the Christchurch mosque attacks is still being felt, with changes in perspective from those born in New Zealand, and those within the refugee community.

"All of us, we know how important is communication," Tamim said. "Let's say between me and my neighbour. If we start from that then I think my neighbour will say 'look, I have a neighbour who is coming back from Syria'. I hear from him his story and he will share it to the others, and the others will know what the meaning is for a Syrian refugee for example."

The increase in understanding comes at a good time, as New Zealand prepares for a larger intake of refugees.

"There are just over 70 million refugees around the world who are in need of support and resettlement," Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway said.

"To do that, we are increasing the number of places they can be resettled by six," he said.

One of those places is Whanganui, joining Palmerston North in resettling refugees from March.

The Minister highlighted the benefits of diversity in our communities.

"I get to meet so many youngsters who have grown up in New Zealand as a result of being resettled here and they go on to do amazing things.


"They're lawyers, they're doctors, they're academics, they're mechanics, they're tradespeople ... they do all sorts of things" said Lees-Galloway.

"They really contribute to our community in making us a much more diverse place and give us connections to the rest of the world.

"They come from situations that New Zealanders just can't imagine and I think it's such a good reminder of what a wonderful country we have and what an opportunity we have - to provide people with safety and an opportunity to live a good life.

If the spread of food at the celebration was anything to go by, the diversity will be more than welcome.

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