Many resettled people from forced migrant backgrounds have made Aotearoa New Zealand their home. Their past may be in another country, but their present and future is here. The New Zealanders Now project is about those people – those who have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of adversity and emerged with determination and strength. Aotearoa New Zealand benefits enormously from resettled individuals and communities, who make our country a richer and more diverse place to live, and make a significantly contribution to our prosperity. Yet when people think of resettled persons it’s often in negative terms. The label refugee often means that the person gets forgotten behind the word. Who are they? What are their hopes and dreams? And what do they think about this country they now call home?
Many forget that being a refugee is only a temporary classification, only one stage on the journey to safety. It is not a permanent status but merely an interim label. The New Zealanders Now project came about through the need to change the narrative, to peel back the refugee label and remove the barriers it creates on the path to integration. Through portraits taken by Nando Azevedo, and quotes that provide a window into the lives of the photographer’s subjects, the project sheds light on the resettlement journey, from when one first became a refugee to the moment one no longer fitted that description. It is about what happens when refugees become Kiwis.