Every day, 33,972 people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.
Over 101.1 million people are currently displaced by persecution or conflict, including 26 million people who have crossed an international border and become refugees. This means 1 in every 88 people globally has been forced to flee.
However, less than 1% of refugees are resettled in third countries each year.
What is Community Refugee Sponsorship?
Community Refugee Sponsorship is a refugee resettlement programme that has local people and community groups at its heart. It provides ordinary kiwi citizens with an opportunity to participate directly in the humanitarian efforts to support the world’s refugees.
Resettlement is a term used to describe the process of a refugee moving from a country where they have sought safety from violence and persecution to a third country that has the capacity to support them permanently.
Community Sponsorship enables ordinary kiwis to take the lead in supporting refugees to make this move and settle into their new homes. Community groups apply to become ‘Approved Sponsors’ and enter into an agreement with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they will use their networks and funding to help a refugee whānau/individual resettle in Aotearoa.
Over a period of two years, the Approved Sponsor will help the refugee whānau/individual find housing, form connections, access services, secure employment, learn English, and participate in their community, so that they can quickly regain independence and find a sense of belonging in their new home.
Started in Canada in the 1970's, the Canadian community sponsorship programme has successfully resettled approximately 300,000 refugees since it began.
Today many countries such as Ireland, Australia, Argentina, Spain, and the UK have used the Canadian model to design community sponsorship programmes of their own.
Why get involved?
There are many reasons to get involved with community refugee sponsorship!
Community Refugee Sponsorship is, first and foremost, a tool for protecting refugees by providing them with an opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and with dignity in a new country.
Community-based refugee sponsorship is an exciting way to increase the very limited opportunities for refugee resettlement around the world.
As a member of a sponsorship group, you are an important part of this global movement!
Whether you yourself develop a strong bond with the refugee newcomers or not, the relationships they build in the new community are a key to their success in adapting.
Many sponsorship groups have positive experiences and even remain close friends with the refugee newcomers long after the sponsorship period ends.
It is an incredible opportunity to learn more about the diversity of perspectives and human experiences.
Volunteering and Awareness-Raising
The privilege of many sponsorship group members means that there is an associated potential to improve the lives of those in different circumstances. Varying levels of awareness of power and privilege exist among us, and sponsorship can be a way to engage with this productively.
It may be intimidating, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, confusing, and so much more, but is an experience of growth at the individual and community levels.
Source: Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative.
Community Refugee Sponsorship in Aotearoa New Zealand
Source: MBIE | Immigration New Zealand
Aotearoa’s Community Refugee Sponsorship programme has been designed by a coalition of people, including government, community organisations, former refugees, and mana whenua.
At a local level, the programme echoes the values of:
Manaakitanga (act towards others with respect, kindness, compassion, and love)
Whanaungatanga (strengthen reciprocal mana-enhancing relationships, connectedness and to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion)
Kotahitanga (unity: sharing the earth, extending our āwhina (support) to everyone, learning from one another always with reciprocity at the centre)
New Zealand’s Community Refugee Sponsorship programme has been designed to complement and be in addition to the government-led resettlement programmes such as the Refugee Quota programme, that resettles 1,500 refugees per year, and the Refugee Family Support category, which enables former refugees to sponsor their family members to resettle in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Under the extended pilot of the Community Refugee Sponsorship programme, 150 refugees will be resettled by Approved Sponsors over three years (2021 – 2024).
The programme is an extension of a pilot that was first run in 2017, when 24 refugees were sponsored
by four Approved Sponsor organisations.
More information about the first pilot programme, the policy, and co-design process can be found
Read the government's evaluation report about the CORS pilot here:
In 2021, HOST International Aotearoa New Zealand (HOST) was appointed as the Umbrella Organisation for the extended pilot of Aotearoa’s community refugee sponsorship programme.
HOST is available to help interested organisations understand the programme and apply to become Approved Sponsors.
HOST will also provide support and coaching for Approved Sponsors throughout the two-year sponsorship period and build a community of practice amongst all groups who want to contribute to the important kaupapa of community refugee sponsorship.
Role of the Umbrella Organisation, HOST International Aotearoa
Global context of Community Sponsorship
The development of an alternative pathway for refugee admission globally that complements traditional refugee resettlement is intended to provide durable protection solutions for refugees and build community engagement and support for refugee resettlement.
It also demonstrates New Zealand's commitment to international responsibility sharing as articulated in international refugee protection frameworks. The objectives of the Community Refugee Sponsorship category are to:
Provide an opportunity for community organisations to more actively engage in supporting successful sponsored refugee settlement and to build communities that welcome refugees.
Enable sponsored refugees, with the support of community organisations, to quickly become independent and self-sufficient so they can enter the labour market, navigate and access mainstream support services without requiring additional support.
Provide an alternative form of admission for refugees to complement New Zealand’s Refugee Quota programme and, in doing so, demonstrate New Zealand’s response to the scale of refugee movement and commitment to international responsibility sharing.