South West Experience

Welcoming three families to Ōtautahi Christchurch

South West Baptist is part of a pilot Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORs) programme. This is a collaboration between the Government and community groups to sponsor and help refugees to settle into New Zealand.

We welcomed three families in 2018. We did not choose who they would be, and nor is there any opportunity to welcome more people until the programme is expanded. For up-to-date information about the programme please refer to Immigration NZ website: Refugee and protection | Immigration New Zealand

Our goal was to help the three families 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 when we join together to help others, it builds our relationships with each other and makes communities and ultimately society more generous, more caring and more healthy. By placing each newcomer family into an established network of connections we hope that they will quickly settle into Ōtautahi.

Subsequently we worked with other churches and NGOs to support a permanent community sponsorship programme. In November 2018, we presented a Proposal to the Minister inviting the Government to work with us to design a permanent programme. Read the full Proposal here.

Over 47 groups supported our Proposal. 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 welcome refugees to their place.

In May 2020 the Government announced that the pilot programme would run for a further three years, and expand to 150 spaces. For more information visit the NZ Government website Refugee and protection | Immigration New Zealand, or

Watch this clip for an overview of the sponsorship programme. Nick Regnault 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.