Over the years Aotearoa New Zealand has accepted individuals and families from forced migrant backgrounds from different continents and regions. These have included Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, with first arrivals in the 1930s. The Aotearoa New Zealand resettlement process has been a successful journey for many people in achieving a more stable life. The country provides resettlement-focused and mainstream services for new arrivals, with education and employment pathway opportunities. At Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC) we continuously work hard to add value to the current resettlement system here is Aotearoa New Zealand through guidance, capability development and advocacy. We support resettled whānau and their communities to grow and thrive.
As a new resident of Aotearoa New Zealand, we embrace you with love, kindness, and respect for who you are, welcome to your new home. I was in your shoes 16 years ago, and I encourage you to keep your hopes alive and remain resilient. Your new home will provide you with the opportunity to recover from what has happened and what has been destroyed. I lost everything I owned in my country of origin. I lost my family, relatives, land, and wealth. However, I never gave up on my education and employment dreams. In Aotearoa New Zealand, I have worked hard to overcome my historical trauma, survivor’s guilt, and the negative mindset attached to poverty and social-economic suffering. Sharing our stories of successful resettlement to Aotearoa New Zealand with integrity can provide others with a road map towards achieving positive settlement and integration outcomes.
I know that many will face challenges in their settlement and integration process in the short term. It takes time to establish a network, find suitable employment, and feel part of Aotearoa New Zealand society. Although services have been improved for the better, our names and backgrounds may be seen as a problem, and there’s also the English language barrier. I encourage individuals and family members to ask ‘who am I and why am I here?’, because many of us don’t fully know who we are and what we want. Be open to others and ask for help when needed and avoid playing the victim role – by this I mean try not to blame others for your problems. Avoid living in denial and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are not isolated from the community that can support you.
I am confident you will like Aotearoa New Zealand as I do because of the opportunities it offers, both socially and economically. Be open-minded and appreciate that not everything happens at once. Good things can take time, short cuts are not always available. Giving yourself time will allow you to develop your career pathway and future direction. To start working in Aotearoa New Zealand consider finding volunteer work, which may lead you on the road to a meaningful job. Take every opportunity to access training or education to gain the appropriate tools and knowledge needed for your future. By taking the opportunities offered to you, you will start to recover from your historical trauma through your work and education. Eventually, you will begin to heal and discover your identity through knowing your purpose, passions, goals, talents, and mission in life.
I am grateful to everyone here who has supported me with the opportunity to achieve the Aotearoa New Zealand dream. I have learned and adapted to my new home and lifestyle after many years of engaging with diverse ethnic communities, NGOs, and government agencies. This has resulted in me being independent financially, avoiding dependence on the government social welfare system. This is the ideal situation we should all be aiming for, continuing our personal development, and engaging in education, leading to relevant qualifications. My journey began as a community representative of the coalition before becoming a Youth Coordinator, Vice-Chair, Chairperson, General Manager and now Chief Executive Officer of ARCC.
Embrace Aotearoa New Zealand. Remember you have arrived at the end of your resettlement journey, and you are now at the next stage, your settlement and integration as a New Zealander. We are all humans on one planet, and our approach in life should be to respect one another through our shared humanity. Aotearoa New Zealand is my home now, and I am proud of my achievements as a New Zealander of South Sudanese origin! I wish you all the best in your settlement in your new home.
Abann K.A Yor
The New Residents Magazine’s intent is to share success stories from the resettled community in Aotearoa New Zealand. It recognises those who have navigated positive education and employment pathways over the years, to highlight potential avenues to successful settlement. The magazine aims to provide a voice for new residents who have arrived as humanitarian entrants under the Refugee Quota Programme and Family Reunification Category. These new arrivals come with the legal status of permanent residence. Letting them know their rights and entitlements, including their identity, and their obligations as permanent residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, highlights the significant change from refugee status to that of a permanent resident. Further, the magazine aims to encourage financial independence, and emphasises the importance of finding a job and not being dependent on the government social welfare system.
The primary audience for the magazine is the new residents and resettled community who arrived under the Refugee Quota Programmes with permanent residence status and through the Family Reunification Category with a Residence Visa. The secondary audience is resettlement-focused service providers and local neighbourhoods. The magazine aims to acknowledge and highlight each individual’s right to their new status and the importance of understanding the change from being a refugee to becoming a permanent resident or citizen. It also sets out to further educate the resettled community in appreciating who they are, clarifying the reality of their new life, and supporting them in the process of settlement and integration by highlighting the challenges and opportunities that can influence the shift to a positive mindset.
Pwint and I are originally from Myanmar, which is also known as Burma. We came to this beautiful land of New Zealand through different pathways and are destined to meet here. We are a family of 3 with lovely 2 and a half years old son. It has been more than 6 years that I have been running my small business called Barahkhah Gibstopper. Pwint currently works as a Community Support Coordinator at Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC) and as a Freelance interpreter.
I came to New Zealand in July 2006 through Malaysia under Refugee Quota Programme with my uncle and cousins. I was 17 back then. Fortunately, I did not have to stay for a long time in the refugee host country, Malaysia. It was only after 6 months in Malaysia; I was able to come to New Zealand. I originally came from Chin State which is in a very remote area of Myanmar. Education, communication, transportation, etc. was very poor in addition to the war between ethnic armed groups and Myanmar military. Thus, my mother decided to send me with my uncle family to leave the motherland for better education, opportunity, and life. I have never traveled outside of Myanmar, and I have no idea about New Zealand, where in the world this country would be.
Pwint came to New Zealand in February 2012 to pursue Master of Education (M.Ed) at UNITEC Institute of Technology. Pwint was one of the three recipients of ASEAN scholarship given by New Zealand Government. I met Pwint during her studies through Church Community. Most members of our church community are from Refugee background, Pwint has helped them with some schoolwork, interpretation and organizing the activities, etc
My wife Tayyaba and I are originally from Pakistan; we were born in Pakistan, where our family, relatives, and ancestry originate from. We came to New Zealand through different pathways but still, the pathways were very connected. We are a family of 3 with a sweet 8-month-old son. I am working with Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC) as a Communications and Engagement Officer and Tayyaba is working there as a Youth Lead and a freelance Photographer.
I arrived in New Zealand in October 2017 through Thailand under the Refugee Quota Programme, alongside my parents and siblings. It took a challenging four and half years of struggle, tears, and sweat, and all of our lives were on the line.
I am originally from Punjab, the biggest state in Pakistan. Life was good – no war or conflict with any country. Unfortunately, there is discrimination in the wider community, as well from the government, against our Ahmadiyya Community. Religious extremist groups practice hate speech and even honour killings in the name of religion. I was also once targeted by extremists only because of my faith. Thus, I was not safe anymore and my parents decided I was not safe in my own motherland, and I need to leave the country as soon as possible. I and one of my elder brothers left the country quickly after the incident. It was the first time for leaving our homeland. When I was on the flight, I was in tears about leaving the country, and I felt I wouldn’t be able to come back home, where I had spent all of my life with friends family and the community. It was the most difficult thing I had to face at a young age; I was only 19. I had never thought one day I would be resettled in New Zealand. In 2016 My brother and I created an organization while we were refugees in Thailand . We empowered more than 150 refugees at that time. All those refugees are now earning money and working remotely.
My name is Faisal and was born in Sudan. My father was an engineer and worked in Saudi Arabia. I finished my University studies in Sudan in 1997. I started my own business in Sudan with my friends. We started exporting leather to Greece, Syria and other countries. We closed the business after a few years and started a construction business with my family. I got married in 2003. Shortly after, I got an opportunity to set up three Petrol stations in Sudan, one of which was my own and the other two were in partnership.
Sudan had a dictator government which created war within the country and led to division. Now Sudan is divided into two parts, Sudan, and South Sudan. Business was going well until this division. I started receiving threats from the military Government, as people from different communities used to visit my petrol stations. The then-Government was very upset with me and warned me to stop supporting these communities, or I would be in big trouble. They started interfering with my business, which forced me to move out of Sudan with my entire family.
We travelled to Malaysia as this was the only country which didn’t require a visa for a Sudanese passport. I started a tourist business in Malaysia with my friends and was doing extremely well. It was very hard in Malaysia, which was entirely different from Sudan: A different environment, different people, different mindset etc. I decided to go back to Sudan, but it was very unsafe for me and my family to return. I was advised by my friend to approach UNHCR. I put in my case and It took two years to get refugee status in Malaysia. There are no refugee camps, you can stay anywhere in Malaysia. The Police in Malaysia were very strict, and we always used to live in constant fear of being put in detention centers. After two years, I was informed that we would be going to New Zealand. I didn’t know where New Zealand was, so I quickly asked my wife to Google New Zealand. She was very impressed by what she learnt about NZ, and we all agreed to travel to NZ.
My name is Haji Miragha Sarwary, also known as Haji. I identify as an Afghan New Zealander and a proud citizen of NZ. I was born in Afghanistan, and that is where all my family are originally from. I faced a challenging resettlement journey before I became a New Zealander. It began in 1987 when I was forced to flee Afghanistan due to the ongoing war. I lost my brother to the war, as well as my uncle and nephew, and a lot of relatives and also some of my classmates were among our loved ones who lost their lives. There was no hope left for us in our war-torn home, Afghanistan.
I fled to Pakistan for safety and protection. It was during winter and it was snowing, there was ongoing conflict and it was very unsafe. The journey involved lots of walking. What would have a 5-hour drive between 2 towns, I travelled by foot through a warzone over 2 days. The whole time, our lives were at risk, there were landmines and fighting along the way, and only limited supplies. This was a real struggle, however with god’s will and hope, I got to neighbouring Pakistan. My family came to Pakistan shortly after and we were in Pakistan for a few years before coming to NZ. We had a relative, Engineer Abdul Fatah Samadi, in New Zealand. With his help, the UN, and help from our sponsor, Father Terry Dribble who was his friend, we got an opportunity to travel to New Zealand.
We arrived in NZ in 1990 and were able to later support extended family to come to NZ. We didn’t know much about NZ when we first came, we had only heard that it was a safe and peaceful country far from our hometown with a small population and lots of sheep. I like NZ for giving me and my family hope, and the opportunities it has provided for us to live a peaceful life and gain world-class education and work towards a great future. My kids have all lived, grown up and studied in NZ, graduated with university degrees, and are now working and giving back to the society.