When We Become New Zealanders

My name is Umar Hayat; I identify myself as a Punjabi New Zealander, who is now a New Zealand citizen. I was born in Rabwah Panjab, where my family, relatives and ancestry originate from. Before I became a New Zealander, I experienced a challenging resettlement journey that took all of 3 years. It started in 2014 when I was forced to flee from Punjab to Malaysia, because of the ongoing Discrimination toward Ahmadiyya sect. We sought asylum for resettlement opportunities in a third country of resettlement and ended up in New Zealand.

My family and I became New Zealanders in 2017 when we received a permanent resident visa whilst waiting in Malaysia. It was the most difficult time of my life staying in a country where you have no idea when you are going to get resettled with an underlying heart condition. Fortunately, Immigration New Zealand interviewed us and we after few months We arrive in our New Home we call it Aotearoa.

When we arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand, in 2018, I did not know much about New Zealand. We knew we had to stay in Mangere Resettlement centre and complete six weeks orientation programme. Mangere Resettlement centre was our first home in New Zealand and
I still remember our amazing six weeks in the centre. We made good friends with the case workers teachers, security guards, kitchen staff. I started feeling like sense of belonging here in Mangere resettlement centre.

My family and I became New Zealanders in 2017 when we received a permanent resident visa whilst waiting in Malaysia. It was the most difficult time of my life staying in a country where you have no idea when you are going to get resettled with an underlying heart condition. Fortunately, Immigration New Zealand interviewed us and we after few months We arrive in our New Home we call it Aotearoa.

When we arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand, in 2018, I did not know much about New Zealand. We knew we had to stay in Mangere Resettlement centre and complete six weeks orientation programme. Mangere Resettlement centre was our first home in New Zealand and I still remember our amazing six weeks in the centre. We made good friends with the case workers teachers, security guards, kitchen staff. I started feeling like sense of belonging here in Mangere resettlement centre.

I like New Zealand because I have never faced any discrimination from any individual member of the community here in New Zealand, I can go to my mosque practice my religion there without any discrimination. We have a small mosque in the community where I go and pray. I was a chef when I was in Pakistan I used to cater for big events. I started catering here In New Zealand as well and working with Wintec and New Zealand Red Cross and other organisations. Also, I do traditional Pakistan catering for my own community.

The thing I do not like about New Zealand is language and cultural barrier toward getting employment. I have the right skills I can work 24-7 but when I came here I could not get work and there was not enough agencies helped me with getting work.


The challenges I faced were, Driving my own car. There was not enough driving programme to offer us help. There was not many community connections when we came here. Now we have built connection and we are not isolated anymore.