New Zealanders Now – From Refugees to Kiwis

Many people from refugee backgrounds have made New Zealand their home. Their past may be in another country, but their present and future is here. This project is about those people. People who have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of adversity, emerging with determination.

New Zealand benefits enormously from resettling refugees. Former refugees make our country a richer and more diverse place to live and significantly contribute to New Zealand’s prosperity. Yet when people think of refugees it’s often in negative terms – poor, helpless, weak and often as a threat. They see them as a term ‘refugee’, and forget about the people 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 people forget that being a refugee is only a temporary classification – one stage in the journey to safety. It is not a permanent status but merely a label.

The ‘New Zealanders Now’ project came about through the need to peel back that label, and remove the barriers and obstacles it creates in the path to resettlement.

The purpose of the project is to change the narrative, redefine the word ‘refugee’. Through the use of portraits by photographers Nando Azevedo and small fragment of information that provide a window into the lives of individuals, this project shows what happens after refuge has been found, the journey as a refugee has ended and the label has been dropped.

This is about what happens when refugees become Kiwis.

The photo book that resulted from this work is available for purchase at our virtual shop.


Some samples of the work can be seen Below:


“I never had an ethnic background until I moved here, you see: That is just a matter of reference.”

Abann, Daoj & Mery – Former Refugees – New Zealanders Now.

“Every time I come close to the ocean I feel close to home. It’s one of the places I can come and loose my mind in it.”

Tazmine – Former Refugee – New Zealander now.

“All my life started pretty much here. New Zealand gave me what they call a safe heaven.”

Ye – Former Refugee – New Zealander Now

” I like living in New Zealand better because it was too hot there.”

Anna – Former Refugee – New Zealander Now

“I defended at the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals prosecuted at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Applying a legal process is such a relief, it is about bringing that country back to a system of respecting human rights, respecting the law and restoring culture. It is restoring society it’s been through something really big that you may feel can’t be overcome.” 

Golriz – Former refugee – New Zealander Now