‘Energy and enthusiasm’ at Welcoming Communities hui

More than 130 people turned out to the first Welcoming Communities hui last week to give feedback...
More than 130 people turned out to the first Welcoming Communities hui last week to give feedback on how Queenstown can make community groups feel more connected. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
QUEENSTOWN’S refugee, migrant and immigrant groups are keen to establish more places and events to come together — that was the key takeaway from the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Welcoming Communities hui.

About 130 people from more than 20 community organisations packed out the Queenstown Events Centre function room on Thursday night, to learn more about council’s Welcoming Communities programme and give feedback about how Queenstown could be a more welcoming place for newcomers.

The programme aimed to be a connecting point for Queenstown newcomers based on eight key pillars including inclusive leadership, connected and inclusive communities and economic development.

Following an opening karakia from Queenstown kaumatua Darren Rewi and speeches by Mayor Jim Boult, Immigration New Zealand and the welcoming communities team, community representatives participated in a ‘‘world cafe’’.

‘‘We formulated one question around each of the eight pillars to gather feedback about what they think the community of Queenstown Lakes is already doing, and what can we do better,’’ council Welcoming Communities programme co-ordinator Silvia Dancose said.

Initial feedback showed a desire for more festivals to showcase culture, more ethnic sports tournaments that would also involve the wider Queenstown Lakes community and the establishment of a migrant hub where people could congregate for settlement and integration services.

‘‘There was a palpable energy and enthusiasm of wanting to engage and wanting to participate, wanting to meet others wanting to share,’’ Ms Dancose said.

At present, Welcoming Communities has 18 participating councils around the country and is run in partnership with Immigration New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry for Ethnic Communities.

Ms Dancose said the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Welcoming Communities team would collate all feedback gathered on the night as part of a stocktake report which would then feed into a ‘‘welcoming plan’’.

That plan would then be voted on by the council’s elected members.