Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC) is launching this blog to share articles and pieces on the resettlement space from various authors. The name, the Tūmanako Blog, is itself significant, and is the subject of this first article. The Tūmanako – Table of Hope is an important model of practice designed by ARCC’s new resident and resettled community. In this first article we set the scene for the Tūmanako – Table of Hope, explaining its origins, meaning and importance. If you would like to read more about the model of practice, just follow this link:
The Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Community Engagement Framework was the result of the National Refugee Resettlement Forum (NRRF), held over two days in May 2019 in the capital of our motu (nation) Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington). The forum’s theme was community engagement, with local and national government and non-government organisations, civil society, and resettled community representatives in attendance. Following the wānanga (forum), Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC) hosted four community consultation sessions in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) to gather feedback from new residents and resettled communities from forced migrant backgrounds. These consultations explored what improvements were required to make resettled people feel like they belong in Aotearoa and acknowledge their existing supports. A clear narrative articulating these improvements and how they can be achieved was expressed, and The Tūmanako – Table of Hope was born.
Tūmanako, in its essence, means to hope for a better future for our families and communities as new residents and resettled people in Aotearoa. ARCC’s Tūmanako – Table of Hope model of practice provides a framework for a resettlement sector that actively promotes positive resettlement, integration, and resettled community wellbeing outcomes. It guides the sector and wider Aotearoa society to listen to new residents’ and resettled peoples’ voices and the issues that matter to them and affect their lives. Not just listening but actively doing so to gain understanding is the only way to encourage a sense of belonging. Recognising new residents’ and resettled peoples’ identities, cultural values, backgrounds, customs, norms, legal status, citizenship and the positive contributions they make to Aotearoa is also at the foundation of the Tūmanako – Table of Hope, as well as appropriate resourcing. With this approach, belonging can and will be achieved, and as our resettled communities flourish, their integration will see wider Aotearoa society thrive too.
The model was adopted by the Auckland Resettlement Sector Steering Group (ARSSG) and subsequently officially launched at the Auckland Resettlement Sector Annual Summit on the 16th June 2021, appropriately branded the Tūmanako Summit. Here new residents, resettled community members, and resettlement sector partners from across the motu gathered in our largest city under the banner of ‘creating opportunity for resettled communities in Aotearoa’. The Tūmanako – Table of Hope approach is how these opportunities will be created.
New residents and resettled communities are heading in the right direction for building a foundation as resettled people in Aotearoa, knowing who we are and where we have come from. Our country of origin is our background, it is an important part of who we are, but we are New Zealanders now. The Tūmanako – Table of Hope framework gives us a road map to understanding ourselves as resettled people and New Zealanders. It recognises the fluidity of place, pathways, and time.
Why then do service providers hold our community hostage? Why does Aotearoa society put us in a box of the past? We are labelled refugees, former refugees, and refugee backgrounds, but those who label us keep themselves updated in the present. We are New Zealanders.
Identity is a fundamental human right; it is who a person is. It’s their present, even if it may be shaped by their past and guided by their aspirations for the future. The purpose of defining a refugee is to justify and facilitate aid and protection. Aotearoa accepts 1,500 refugees offshore for resettlement each year. We are a resettlement country, not a refugee country. On arrival, they become New Zealand permanent residents. They are no longer refugees; they become New Zealanders. That’s why there are no refugees in Aotearoa. This is not a technicality but a fact. Many become New Zealand citizens five years later. That is our newly emerged identity, it is our nationality, and it is who we are. We are South Sudanese New Zealanders; we are Iranian New Zealanders; we are Eritrean New Zealanders. We are all New Zealanders.
The Tūmanako – Table of Hope model of practice encompasses three important interrelated dimensions: the past, present and future. Firstly, the past signifies resettled peoples’ backgrounds, extended families, ancestry, homeland, and country of origin. Secondly, the presentrepresents the resettlement and integration process within Aotearoa and what needs to be achieved through community-led organisations and key stakeholders working together with resettled people. Finally, the future encompasses new residents’ and resettled peoples’ aspirations and potential for better integration and an increased sense of belonging. None of these dimensions should be ignored, and each of them has a critical part in realising that hope and reliance for a better future that the Tūmanako – Table of Hope is all about.
That is why the Tūmanako – Table of Hope guides all that ARCC does as an organisation. It is why it guides what we do as individuals, as a whānau (family) and as a community. It is why we advocate and educate for its essence to be practised across the resettlement sector and wider Aotearoa society. The four principal resettlement solutions that the resettled community identified, namely listening, understanding, recognising, and resourcing, are at the heart of the Tūmanako – Table of Hope. They are the foundation of our kaupapa (purpose) as an organisation. Our mahi (work) is based on those three interrelated dimensions, the past, present, and future. Through the Tūmanako – Table of Hope we will achieve integrated and thriving resettled communities in Aotearoa. This goal requires all the actors in the resettlement sector to collaborate and work together towards this common vision.
Abann Kamyay Yor & James Ibell-Roberts