Welcoming Communities gathers momentum
Welcoming Communities, now in its second year of rolling out the welcome mat to newcomers on behalf of Central Otago District Council (CODC), is gaining further momentum going into the 2023-2024 summer.
At the Council meeting in Alexandra on Wednesday (25 October 2023), the CODC’s Welcoming Communities Officer Heather Harries, who took over from Deborah Beange in May, reviewed highlights of the six-monthly report submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in July this year. The report outlined activities from January to June 2023 and then went on to indicate the activities planned for the remainder of 2023. Welcoming Communities strives to make newcomers feel a sense of belonging on the basis that a thriving community enables a flourishing economy; all actions are rolled out alongside the Welcoming Plan and its eight welcoming communities standards.
Welcoming Communities - Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori, is a settlement programme that supports councils and their communities to create welcoming and inclusive environments for newcomers – recent migrants, former refugees and international students. It involves local residents in developing, delivering and participating in welcoming activities. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is leading the programme’s implementation with the Office of Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission.
Some of the highlights of 2023 in the Central Otago district iinclude:
- Multicultural Mural on the Cromwell Football Club building on Alpha Street.
- Business South Scholarship Award.
- Pasifika Dance workshop
- A series of Cultural Capability workshops over Welcoming Week Aotearoa 1 – 10 September. Approximately 80 people attended these workshops which focussed on developing understanding around cultural nuances, which can inhibit healthy workplace relationships.
Ms Harries said Welcoming Communities strived for self-sustainable initiatives, led by the community itself.
“The Alexandra Newcomers Network, the Cromwell Newcomers Network, and Seasonal Staff Manaaki are cohesive support groups that are gathering momentum. Recently, a wide range of community stakeholders have been meeting regularly at Central Otago REAP to support new migrant families, developing interconnection between workplaces, education facilities, social services and ESOL tuition.”
Cromwell Multicultural Mural Celebration. On 12 November 2pm-4pm there will be a celebration of the multicultural mural at the Alpha Street Pavilion, Cromwell. The celebration will involve a blessing and aims to include as many stakeholders of this project as possible.
International Potluck Dinner. Alexandra Newcomers Network is putting on an international potluck dinner on 10 November to coincide with Diwali which takes place on 12 November.
Leadership Academy for Business South Scholarship winners. From 7 – 28 November, Caitlin Laurenson and Dewald De Beer, will attend the Leadership Academy. An evaluation and report will follow.
“Welcoming Communities advocates that ‘No matter what language you speak, who you worship or where you were born, we’re glad you’re here.’ The underlying premise is that to be truly inclusive: We don’t welcome once – we welcome always,” Ms Harries said.