After eight years Christchurch is once again a refugee settlement location in a move the Government is calling a "milestone for the city's post-earthquake recovery".

The first group of about 20 Afghan and Eritrean quota refugees are expected to settle in Christchurch in March next year.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said it was an important step for New Zealand's ambitions to lift the refugee quota to 1500 a year in this term.

"The plan is for around 60 Quota refugees to be settled in Christchurch in the 2018/19 financial year," he said.


"There is an extraordinary number of people around the world who need refuge and New Zealand is determined to play its part."

Except for a limited number of family-linked cases, the settlement of quota refugees in Christchurch was suspended after the September 2010 earthquake, due to the impact on services such as health and housing, Lees-Galloway said.

After a "comprehensive review" the Government was satisfied the rebuild had reached a point where the infrastructure could now enable refugees to be settled in the city once again, he said.

"The team at Immigration NZ has worked closely with Christchurch City Council to ensure refugees will be well-supported as they build their new lives in New Zealand."

New Zealand Red Cross national migration programmes manager Rachel O'Connor said it was an exciting new chapter for the wider Canterbury community.

"Kiwis are known around the world for their friendliness and it's wonderful to see this translate into positive stories of refugee resettlement around Aotearoa," she said.

Red Cross has run its Pathways to Employment programme in Christchurch since 2015 which is available to former refugees who settled there prior to the earthquakes.

"We've been there for Christchurch residents for over 100 years before, during, and after disasters," O'Connor said.

Over the past two and a half years, Red Cross has supported Dunedin and Invercargill communities as they've become established refugee settlement locations.

"Many of our volunteers say that the former refugees they support become like family and we're confident that people in Christchurch will become like family to these new Kiwis," O'Connor said.

The previous National-led Government raised the quota from 750 to 1000 last year and that increase came into effect on July 1.

Last month, National's immigration spokesman Michael Woodhouse criticised the current Government for "backtracking" on its promise to lift the quota to 1500.

Lees-Galloway said at the time the Government will deliver on its commitment but has to ensure resources such as housing are in place.

There are seven settlement locations in the country for quota refugees after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

They are: Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.