Levin is one of several regional centres selected to accommodate refugee resettlement from next year.

Earlier this month a government announcement identified Levin, Whanganui, Masterton, Blenheim and Timaru as five additional refugee resettlement locations to help support an increased national refugee quota.

A Horowhenua District Council Community Wellbeing Committee briefing said refugee arrival numbers in Levin would be around three to five families every six to eight weeks from May 2020 onwards.

The briefing said several local Horowhenua businesses already employ refugees who are resettled in Palmerston North and Feilding, and it was these businesses along with the Red Cross who advocated for Levin to be a resettlement area.


"Noting concerns regarding housing and public transport connections in the Horowhenua District, the Ministry [of Immigration] is keen to manage these concerns in partnership with Council and provide support to prepare the community to welcome new refugee families to the district," the statement said.

Immigration New Zealand's Refugee and Protection Unit said last week that the government announcement was the start of a thorough process of ensuring communities are ready to welcome refugees.

"It's really important to note that refugees do not depart the Refugee Resettlement Centre until accommodation is secured in the settlement location they are moving to," the release said.

"Refugees become great citizens, who bring valuable skills and experience to New Zealand and help make our country a more diverse and vibrant place."

English Language Partners NZ Horowhenua Kāpiti branch manager David Harris said he agreed refugees arriving in a community often enhanced it.

The organisation offers free classes to migrants and refugees and helps them integrate through learning about New Zealand culture and societal systems.

"Not only will the new arrivals gain, but Levin will gain a great deal, learning about a new culture, and gaining the skills and talents of the newcomers."

He said he understood people's concerns over an existing shortage of houses and jobs in the area, but said the community should be getting together now to talk about how it could work.


Harris said he hoped education and awareness could be raised about how refugee resettlement worked, as well as about the background and often hellish conditions people came from.

However, some in the community had taken to social media to express their views, with numerous posts concerned the district wouldn't be able to cope.

Brenda Sayring asked where money would come from for refugees.

"Our country needs to be sorted out financially before we take on more people," she posted.

"If jobs are difficult in Levin now for those that live here how's that going to work?"

Janice Smith also posted in opposition to the plan.

"Charity begins at home and we are getting overwhelmed with these people," she said.

Jade Kiriona asked "how can we help when we are already struggling?"

However others welcomed the plan.

Helene Hall said she was a third generation Polish refugee.
"I welcome the diversity that comes with small amount of refugees that New Zealand accepts and truly believe they enrich our cities, towns and lives," she posted."

The council briefing said a settlement service provider, currently Red Cross, would be contracted by the government to deliver one year of support to refugees in the community.

Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway said government agencies, community groups and local councils would all play an important part in the process.

"We've been settling refugees in New Zealand for generations," he said. "We have the experience, the resources and the expertise to do our bit and provide a small number of people displaced by war and disaster a place to call home."