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Charting the CORS Journey: Impactful Insights from Aotearoa's Complementary Refugee Pathway

In an effort to enhance resettlement and integration processes, HOST International Aotearoa (HOST) and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have teamed up for an extended pilot of the Community Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) programme.

Here we share the highlights of the CORS pilot, its practical process, and the context that underlines its significance.

CORS extended pilot

The extended pilot for CORS is a collaborative endeavour designed to facilitate the resettlement of eligible individuals in New Zealand.

Here’s a practical breakdown of the process:

Phase One:

Community Groups register their interest with INZ to become Approved Sponsors.

Phase Two:

Successful applicants are matched with or are nominated by local communities across Aotearoa New Zealand. Offshore refugees undergo steps to meet the CORS criteria.

Phase Three:

Approved Sponsors equip their communities in preparation for pre-arrival.

Phase Four:

Approved Sponsors and local communities play a pivotal role by sponsoring New Zealand residents. They offer housing, employment assistance, and a network for social connections.

Ongoing assistance: The programme doesn’t conclude with initial resettlement. Ongoing support mechanisms ensure participants receive guidance as they navigate their new lives.

CORS in practice

The extended pilot programme signifies an innovative approach to resettlement. By enlisting local communities in the process, it shifts from mere relocation to comprehensive integration. This approach focuses on fostering self-reliance and establishing genuine bonds between newcomers and their new communities.

As we reflect on the significance of community sponsorship, it underscores the importance of connection and dignity in resettlement. It showcases that a successful integration is not just about basic needs, but about nurturing a sense of belonging and self-sufficiency.

Looking ahead

The collaboration between HOST and INZ is not limited to Aotearoa New Zealand borders. The impact of the extended pilot has the potential to ripple beyond New Zealand’s shores. In particular, the work with tangata whenua, its success and lessons learned could inspire similar initiatives across the globe, offering hope to those seeking a fresh start.

In June 2023, the first UNHCR matched individual sponsored under the CORS visa category became a New Zealand resident. This was a particularly special moment for all those involved, especially for the sponsored refugee, the team at HOST, and the approved sponsoring group:

"The relationship with the sponsored refugee started well before they arrived. We were in communication for almost 12 months prior to arrival and during this time we established trust and were able to honestly discuss the realities of what to expect.
When it came to the arrival time, we were genuinely welcoming a friend. Making a new home and in a new country is always difficult, especially so for refugees who have faced great challenges to seek safety, but by having a prepared and caring community on the other side meant we were able to offer a supported welcome when it was needed most.
As a community we are already richer for the arrival of the sponsored refugee, and we look forward to continuing to support them as they carve out what we hope will be a safe and very bright future."

Throughout Phases Two and Three in the CORS process, the Northland based Approved Sponsors were able to connect online with the individual, based in Indonesia, and create dialogue around opportunities, assess needs, personal goals and build Whakawhanaungatanga so that once approved, resettlement could begin straight away.

This individual arrived on the 10th of August 2023 and is overjoyed to begin this new chapter of their life here.

The Community Refugee Sponsorship programme shows that through collaboration, compassion, and tangible support, individuals can rebuild their lives in new surroundings.

The CORS extended pilot is a clear example of practical collaboration. It keeps the focus on those with lived experience of the refugee journey.

As we observe its progress and potential, we recognise that meaningful change can be achieved through pragmatic initiatives that prioritise the wellbeing, self-agency and dignity of individuals seeking a new beginning.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.

With your basket and my basket, the people will thrive.


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