Media release: Let private groups help settle refugees in NZ

1 April, 2016

Wellington (1 April 2016): Amid calls from politicians and civil society to lift the refugee quota, The New Zealand Initiative is urging government to take note of Canada’s system that allows private groups to sponsor refugees.

In New Zealand, the government explicitly limits the number of refugees that are allowed into the country each year, reflecting in part the direct costs of the process that are borne by the state.

The limit, which has not changed in 29 years, prevents community groups and charities from taking in additional refugees above the quota. While community groups do excellent work in helping new refugees to settle in New Zealand, those who are willing and able to do more are not allowed to do so.

In Canada, private groups can raise funds to sponsor the admission of additional refugees above the official quota. Over the past five months, almost 9,000 additional refugees have been able to resettle in Canada as a result of this policy.

“Much of the debate around refugees has focused on quotas, but even if it were doubled, efforts by charities and community groups to help more of these desperate people are likely to be constrained,” said the Initiative’s Executive Director Dr Oliver Hartwich.

“Canada’s example shows that there is a smarter way of doing things. That you can have a quota system, and also bring in more refugees above this limit by tapping into private philanthropy. This is a policy that we think is worth investigating.”

To foster further debate on this issue, The New Zealand Initiative, in conjunction with the Canadian High Commission, is set to host Dean Barry, Immigration Counsellor with the Canadian High Commission in Canberra at a public event in Wellington on Tuesday 5 April 2016.

Barry will explain how the Canadian refugee sponsorship regime works, how refugees benefit from private sponsorship, and what lessons Canada has learned.

Click here to register for the free event. Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Event Details Communities of Care: How Canada welcomes so many refugees
Date: Tuesday 5 April 2016
Arrival time: 5:45pm – 6pm
Venue: Level 12, 36 Brandon Street,
Bayleys Building, Wellington



About The New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute, which is supported by a membership organisation that counts some of the country’s leading visionaries, business leaders and political thinkers among its ranks.  

Our members are committed to developing policies to make New Zealand a better country for all its citizens. We believe all New Zealanders deserve a world-class education system, affordable housing, a healthy environment, sound public finances and a stable currency.  

The New Zealand Initiative pursues this goal by participating in public life, and making a contribution to public discussions.  

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