Wellington, September 19, 2018
New Zealand will lift the refugee quota from 1000 to 1500 within this political term, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
“I am proud that the Coalition Government has today agreed to make such a significant and historic increase to the annual quota of refugees. This is the right thing to do. It fulfils New Zealand’s obligation to do our bit and provide a small number of people, displaced by war and disaster each year, a place to call home,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that the quota increase will be from July 2020 and that meanwhile, the government will work to increase the number and spread of refugee resettlement and support services.
“We need to make sure that we are prepared for this change in policy,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that the increase in quota will not only effect changes to the families concerned but also to New Zealanders.
“Refugees become great citizens, who bring valuable skills and experience to New Zealand and help make our country a more diverse and vibrant place,” she said.
Call to increase
For 30 years, New Zealand’s refugee quota has been set at 750 people per year, leading to calls to double the quota. In 2016, the previous government announced an increase to the quota to 1000, which took effect in 2018.
All three parties in the government had policies to increase the number of refugees New Zealand accepts.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the quota increase was made possible through a significant boost in funding for refugee services in Budget 2018.
This included money to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre to extend the lifespan of the complex, meet the demands of the current intake of 1000 and help enable an increase in the refugee intake.
“An additional six settlement locations will also be needed around New Zealand on top of the recent re-establishment of Christchurch as a settlement location. The number of intakes of refugees and the size of each intake will also be changed from July 2020 while the current six-week reception programme at Mangere will be shortened to five weeks,” he said.
Mr Lees-Galloway said that additional resources will be provided to ensure that quota refugees are able to live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes which best suit their assessed needs.
“The Government will fund the expansion of public housing supply for around 150 extra refugee families at an estimated total cost of $32.5 million over three years,” he said.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment forecasts annual net migration to New Zealand to decline by 22% to 51,000 in the June 2020 year when the increase in the refugee quota will take effect.
Budget 2018 provided $6.2 million of new operating funding over the next four years, and $7.7 million of new capital to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Centre.
There are now eight settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre: Auckland region, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.