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About 40 Syrians were welcomed to the city in a civic ceremony at the Dunedin Centre yesterday.
Mr Cull said they were welcome in the city, which would benefit from the diversity of traditions they brought.
''I know that you will find a welcoming home in Dunedin.''
A spokesman for the families told the ceremony they would work to be ''the best people to represent this community''.
One of the former refugees, Jamal Ibrahim, said through an interpreter he fled the war in Syria to Lebanon, where ''they did not treat us well''.
After dealing with the United Nations and then New Zealand immigration, he and his family got the opportunity to come to this country.
The situation in Syria and the whole Arab world was ''not that good'', and he wanted a better life for his children, a generation disadvantaged by the conflict.
After arriving in Dunedin four months ago, he said it was ''a beautiful life'' in New Zealand.