Resettlement Programme

Resettlement & Response

South West Baptist is part of a pilot Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORs) collaboration between the Government and community groups to sponsor and help settle refugees into New Zealand. It is also working with families of those impacted by the March 15, 2019 tragedy.

Update: July 2020
Watch this clip for Nick’s updates on the sponsorship programme.

Update: June 2020
Watch this clip for an overview of the sponsorship programme. Nick chats to Charles Hewlett, head of the Baptist Union, about welcoming newcomers to Aotearoa and opportunities for churches to get involved in the community sponsorship programme.

Update:  May 2020

In the Budget 2020 the Government announced a three-year extension to the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship programme. The extension provides for 150 places, over three years, starting in July 2021.

If you are interested in sponsoring or finding out more please contact If you want to know more about our experiences, please look at our website and then get in touch.

Update:  February 2020

●     When SWBC took on responsibility to be community sponsors in December 2017, we discovered that community sponsorship was a new thing, and that the eyes of the world were on us. NZ was one of four countries running a pilot programme.

●     There are now 11 states that are advancing community sponsorship: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

●     The NZ Minister of Immigration has joined a network of states committed to encouraging states that are interested in launching new programs; sharing best practices internationally; and facilitating technical and policy exchanges on the use of sponsorship in refugee protection. See here for more information.

●     In November 2018 the Baptist, Catholic and Anglican churches joined forces with 49 community groups and organisations to support refugees and to invite the government to partner with us to create a permanent sponsorship programme. We expect an announcement on the future of the programme in mid 2020.

●     In 2019 we did four major bits of work to promote sponsorship:

○     we invited more groups to join us – we now have 98 groups.
○     we developed some resources for potential sponsors.
○     we published a book of our reflections of sponsoring refugees and extending hands of friendship to newcomers in our land. The book is full of ideas and things to think about if your group is interested in supporting someone new in your neighbourhood. It is available in print or ebook. All profits go to the sponsorship work.
○     we investigated what made sponsorship programmes successful in other countries. We are going to provide the results of this investigation to the government.

●     Please continue to pray for the families that were welcomed under the pilot programme, and for the expansion of the programme so that many more people may be welcomed to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Update: July 2019

On March 15 2019, the Muslim Community including two of the refugee families sponsored by SWBC, were badly impacted by the terror attacks. One of the families sponsored by SWBC lost both the husband and son, with another son badly injured. The father of the other Muslim family sponsored by SWBC was also severely injured. The effects of this tragedy continue to be felt, with physical recovery only part of the long journey ahead.

Like many around the world, our hearts broke with the Muslim Community and our friends, that are going through indescribable pain. The implications of March 15 are extensive, not just including changing people’s perception of safety and mental health challenges.

Within this context, SWBC has been working with survivors and families of March 15 and the communities supporting them. Tearfund provided financial support, meaning paid staff were able to coordinate the response and the ongoing support of around 15 Muslim families that were known to SWBC.

This response included:

·         Engaging in wider dialogue around the Christian Response (available here)
·         The publication of resources including information about Ramadan (available here)
·         Supporting local communities in their response (available here)
·         Presenting to the Baptist LEAD conference, on how other churches could build relationships with their local migrant and refugee community (available here)

In May 2019, a Process Evaluation of the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category (CORs) Pilot was published by MBIE which can be found here.

Overall, the evaluation found that the CORS pilot successfully brought communities together to support refugees, however there were areas that could be improved upon if another pilot was undertaken, or the programme was expanded.

Also, in May 2019, we met with Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway, during which he committed the government to exploring the potential and process for a second pilot. We are working with the government on this, but there is currently no confirmed timeframe.

Update: December 2018

In August 2018 we meet with the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway to talk about making the pilot a permanent pathway for refugees to be settled in New Zealand.  We talked about the successes to date, how a pilot could be expanded nationwide, and the extent of support from community sponsors to do this.

On November 12 2018, we presented a Proposal to the Minister on behalf of a newly formed Core Community Partnership1. The Proposal is quite simply an invitation to the Government to work with us to design a permanent programme. Read the full Proposal here.

Supporting that invitation is a list of forty-seven groups that represent one million everyday New Zealanders. Many are churches. Some are not. There are rural communities and urban communities. Groups from Whangarei to Invercargill and many points in between have come together to say that they too want to help a refugee make a new start.

In May 2018, Amnesty launched a campaign from our Lyttelton St site.  The campaign goal was to collect 10,000 signatures from everyday New Zealanders to show support for community sponsorship.

On November 27 2018 Amnesty International presented the Minister with those signatures. Amnesty have drawn together the stories of settlement, including some of our stories, to demonstrate how lives are being changed, and communities are being strengthened.  This report is available here. Tony Blackett, executive director of Amensty International, spoke about the programme with RNZ and wrote a piece for Stuff. Stuff have also published an article about the programme which can be read here.

Update: March 2018

The New Zealand Government has established a new category for former refugees to resettle in New Zealand. Known as the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category (CORS), it provides a partnership between Government and Community organisations to help up to 30 refugees from the Middle East to settle in NZ.  Four organisations were approved to be community sponsors in December 2017. Read more about this pilot programme here.

South West Baptist Church was one of the chosen four community sponsors.  This means that we agree to provide support to three families for a two year period to help them to settle into Christchurch.  It is important to note that South West Baptist Church does not determine who has the right to come to New Zealand.  That is the role of the Government. Our responsibilities begin once the former refugees are in the country.

Our goal is to support the former refugees to become fully functioning members of society, in a way that is respectful of their beliefs and culture. Our motivation for doing this arises from our desire to see strong and welcoming communities in New Zealand – places where people are healthy, whole and in a relationship with each other and with God. We believe that helping other people together builds our relationships with each other and makes communities and ultimately society more generous, more caring and more healthy.

Other former refugees that have come to New Zealand have experienced social isolation and difficulty finding sustainable long-term employment. We hope to address social isolation by placing each family in the midst of a community of people that will befriend them and help them settle here.  The families arrive in Christchurch in July 2018. One family will be placed in Somerfield, another in West Spreydon and the third is going to live in Hoon Hay, and the children will attend local schools.  Two of the families have three children each, and the third has four children. In total there are 10 children, ranging in age from 15 to less than a year old.

Once they are settled with children in school and they are feeling comfortable with their new surroundings, we will support them to find meaningful sustainable employment. This could start with volunteering, or part-time work to build up NZ work experience and work history. It could mean re-training. If you have knowledge of, or connections with employers that might be willing to assist us in this area, please get in touch.

For further information please get in touch.

1The Core Community Partnership is the Anglican church of New Zealand, Baptist churches of New Zealand, and Caritas Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Nick Regnault
Project Coordinator