It'll be another two months before Whanganui finds out the nationality of the first round of refugees set to arrive under the Government's resettlement programme.

Whanganui district councillors discussed the programme at Tuesday's meeting to get a better idea of where everything is at with only 11 months until Whanganui's newest residents arrive.

Community development adviser Katy Newton said Immigration NZ reviewed the nationality of quota refugees every three years with the current review due to be completed in June.

However, Newton told councillors the countries with the most refugees entering New Zealand in recent times were Myanmar, Colombia, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine.


Councillor Philippa Baker–Hogan said one big question about the resettlement programme was around housing, during what many would see as Whanganui's own housing crisis.

"The question is will it displace housing that is needed for our current community," she said.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall told the council no refugee was placed in any community unless there was housing available.

"The issue for people of Whanganui who are struggling to get housing is where does that put them in terms of government resources going to refugees, and that's a valid question," he said.

Baker-Hogan said people don't see an issue with refugees coming in but with housing itself.

McDouall said: "It'll be dealt with on a case by case basis, and if Whanganui is full and there's no available housing, refugees won't be placed here."

He said it was not a matter of discussing a quota when it meets with Immigration NZ because the programme was a government driven initiative.

However, council could say if it had doubts about the placement.

The first round of refugees will begin being settled in March 2020, with an initial intake of up to 15 quota refugees, or three to five families.

Seven intakes per year is planned from July next year which will mean between 70 and 105 people per year.

Council is meeting with Immigration NZ officials in a closed meeting next week.