Christchurch not ready to take refugees - INZ

12:53 pm on 16 October 2017

Christchurch still has more rebuilding to do before it can become a suitable refugee settlement location again, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says.

There are currently seven places where refugees are settled long-term in New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton, Manawatū, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Christchurch was a settlement centre up until the earthquake in 2010, and took about 100 refugees a year in the three years leading up to it.

Immigration New Zealand national refugee manager Andrew Lockhart said an assessment of Christchurch's suitability earlier this year found strengths with its growing economy and opportunities for affordable private housing.

"The city also has an existing former refugee community to support newly arrived refugee families and has existing expertise to support settlement," Mr Lockhart said.

But the department felt that more time was needed to further strengthen the infrastructure in the city before it returned to being a settlement location, he said.

"Officials are actively working on the areas that need to be strengthened and this will be done by agencies in consultation with the local council."

He said for any future settlement in Christchurch, the number of refugees taken would initially be small and would increase over time.

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