Even in somewhere as friendly as Te Puke, it can be a lonely old business being new in town.

It's not just migrants from overseas who can feel isolated — people moving here from other parts of New Zealand can find themselves missing friends and family.

Multicultural Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty District Council have teamed up and next Tuesday Te Puke Library will host the first weekly Newcomers' Network morning tea.

Multicultural Tauranga co-ordinator Jungeun Lee says the morning tea is a social gathering over tea, coffee and biscuits.


Originally from South Korea, Jungeun moved to New Zealand 12 years ago and, after 11 years in Auckland, moved to the Bay of Plenty.

"I was new to Tauranga so even though I knew the culture and the language, I still felt I need someone to talk to and I know there are lots of newcomers that need their friendships and they don't know where to go," she says.

Multicultural Tauranga has run a regular newcomers' get together for many years. Ian and Leigh Manson have been going to them and have put their hands up to run the Te Puke gatherings.

"We came back to the Bay of Plenty just under a year ago after 38 years in the Waikato," says Leigh. "Despite the fact that I know a few people here from my school days, we just felt that we needed to meet some new people and why not meet people from other countries as well, so we started going to the Tauranga one.

"When they said they wanted to open up in Te Puke, we said "well, we can help with that"."

The couple also spent a decade in Canada where for a time they felt isolated, so have first-hand experience of what newcomers sometimes experience.

"You move into a community and people who live there, they've got their connections, they've got their family, they've got their church, they've got their sports groups and what have you, and you really have to put yourself out there and join something."

Jungeun says as well as newcomers to the area, she would also like to see locals go along.


"People living here who are willing to help and support those people settle into Te Puke are welcome as well, and for them it's learning different cultures."

Western Bay of Plenty District Council's community manager David Pearce says the council gives $10,000 to Multicultural Tauranga each year to focus on providing advisory support to any multicultural events in the district, newcomer engagement, facilitating intercultural understanding and develop a welcoming communities plan.

"Multicultural Tauranga focuses on inclusiveness, respect, acceptance and empowerment and is offering a great initiative opening the free morning teas to all newcomers," he says.

"We are fully supportive of the initiative proposed by Multicultural Tauranga to extend their reach in the Western Bay of Plenty with these newcomer morning teas. We see these morning teas as a chance to provide a friendly, hospitable and inclusive welcome to new arrivals to Te Puke and the region.

"Communities that make newcomers feel welcome are likely to enjoy better social outcomes, better community links and stronger economic growth. Building connections between locals and newcomers means everyone feels included and knows they belong.

"I have no doubt the Te Puke community will continue to offer the welcome mat to those newcomers to New Zealand who choose to live in Te Puke."

The Newcomers Network morning tea will be between 9.30am and 11am each Tuesday in the board room at Te Puke Library.