This is our efficient , tenacious, creative Director, Margaret Chittenden, who has been awarded the E Tangi eTiriti award for outstanding service in the development of the ACE sector. Margaret has worked with former refugees for many years and contributes so much to the lives of our adult students.

October 2021
A bread making course especially for former refugees. Held at AUT, you can enrol for a place right now. The organisers say this course is to “foster understanding of working in a commercial bakery environment, focusing on the practical components of baking and the key components of entering the workforce. “

September 2021

* One of our previous students has had a fantastic family reunification. Mohammed Alim Zaheri is now waiting for his family to emerge from quarantine.

“He said an immigration lawyer, …  helped to apply for immigration papers under urgency to get his family visas to come here.

His wife and seven children aged between 8 and 21 got approved and managed to get on the evacuation flight by New Zealand and Australian defence forces. ”  Fantastic news.

* We were so fortunate to have a relatively normal year until August 2021 when one case of Covid Delta was found in Auckland. This created the immediate lockdown of the country in spite of scornful comments from world wide media.

* From August the time has been very intense for staff and students. New Zealand has been in a lock down for five weeks. Auckland at Level 4 and the rest of the country at enhanced Level 2. Our student families have been impacted by both the pandemic and the war and the takeover of their home country  this impact has deeply affected the families in both New Zealand and Afghanistan.   We were so relieved to know that two of the students on the programme who were visiting relatives and spouses made it safely back toNew Zealand. Several other students were reunited with family members who also managed to get on a flight to safety.

* In this difficult time we have found a Hazara Afghan Association in the new Ministry for Ethnic Communities. This site may be of use to all. A Facebook page can also be accessed.

March 2021
This year we have seen news of Martine Udahemukan from Rwanda.  Martine a former refugee now works as a Senior Policy Advisor in New Zealand’s public sector.

March 2021
Former refugee, Orphee Mikalad, from the Congo, was elected to the Palmerston City Council this year.

March 2021
Refugee educational coup. Guled Mire, a former refugee, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in New York.

After dropping out of school at 16, Mr Mire was told to pursue other things, like a trade.  But the Somalia-born Hamilton man had a desire to make a difference.  What an achievement.

March 2021
We have just finished yet another lock-down pursuant to a new community breakout of the Covid virus. Just as students had returned to school. Very unsettling. Student numbers are doing well this year.

January 2021
We had sad news at the beginning of the year. One of our early students at Selwyn College who was a “Tampa” boy, has died. Khaliq Zullal, 34, died on New Year’s Day. After being included in the group of boys invited to enter New Zealand he was reunited with his parents after four years. In the following years Zullal attained two university degrees, in health science and podiatry.

July to December 2020
We lived through further lock-downs during this period and each time the students adapted well. The prizegiving at the end of the year went very well with senior students presenting small vignettes about their life and journey.  More garden plots were developed for keen students to use. The area was weeded, dug over and planted in 2020, developed over the summer and handed over when school started again in February 2021.

June 2020
Former  refugee women can do anything once their confidence and talents are unleashed in a safe environment.  See how the lady Bhutanese truck driver helped out during the lock-down.

June 2020
Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team has turned its focus to coronavirus patients – by making affordable ventilators out of car parts. This is a huge innovation.

The girls, aged between 14 and 17, have built a prototype using a motor from a used Toyota Corolla and a chain drive from a Honda motorcycle.

They say their ventilators will give temporary relief to patients with respiratory difficulty in an emergency when standard ventilators are not available

June 2020
A group of former refugees in Wellington have set up a local radio station. Read about it here.
Voice of Aroha station manager says “Our vision is to highlight and inspire stories of people from refugee/ migrant backgrounds and their contributions to New Zealand, which hopefully in turn will encourage and empower our youth and communities. We aim to increase awareness on topics that aren’t covered in mainstream media and open a dialogue to create solutions.”

June 2020
Well what a year it has been so far. REAF closed down when the school closed for the Covid-19 period. The whole of New Zealand was in lockdown for four weeks, then at Level 3 forwo weeks and then level 2 for 2 weeks then Level one release on the 8th June.
All our teachers kept in touch with our families and provided interesting things to do.

June 2020
Our former refugee  MP, Golriz Gharaman, has detailed  her refugee journey in a new memoir.
This may help some of our families and their children.


February 2020
* School has started and students are returning this morning. REAF is fortunate to have many volunteers who help our students with the learning process.  Volunteering is a diminishing choice and numbers have fallen by 42% in NZ. However some people are finding other ways to contribute in the most interesting ways.

* Former refugees contribute so much to our country. We may not be aware this has happened in the area of sports. An interesting story of that contribution.

January 2020
Happy New Year everyone. This is going to be a very special REAF year.
* The Health system is failing to offer adequate translation services. One has to ask if they have heard of Google Assistant. it does not have all the languages of our former refugees or migrants but wow, it does pretty well.

* Another success story for a former refugee.  This lady had only been here 2 years before she was speaking English and applying to become a Police officer. She had no education until she was 22 and in New Zealand.

* Be aware that the staff at Immigration NZ are working over the Christmas and New Year break to get visas to applicants as quickly as they can. There just does not seem to be enough staff in the offices of ImmigrationNZ.

December 2019
* Have you ever thought wht it would be like to have to leave your house and your country in 15 minutes. Volunteers working with former refugees consider the question.

* How does it happen? The year slips by and ends so suddenly. REAF had a very successful Prize Giving ceremony. Past and present students spoke of their experiences.  One of the speakers was previously a student at REAF, now she and her family have a house in Pakuranga. Another speaker is a student at REAF and has a contract to write a book about her refugee journey,and our third speaker, though not with us in the hall, presented a video telling of her journey to New Zealand and what it meant for her to be in this country.
We were joined by supporters of REAF and the local Police. One of our regular supporters, the GI CAB Foodbank Manager, Peter Odgear , was able to join us this year. His regular support of our students and theirhildren by his contribution of food to share is most welcome.

* It is so great seeing the continuing stories in the press about the success of former refugees. It reminds us of the contributions that are made to this country. Danny Ing is now a successful entrepreneur in Auckland, where he employs 150 staff in his software company, Ing recently returned to Vietnam for the first time since he and his family fled in the 1970s. Read his story.

* More great news about former refugees and their families. Claire Szabo has been elected as the President of the Labour Party.

* But lets not forget former refugees of the past who have made an impact in New Zealand.
After arriving in New Zealand in 1951, Sebastiano Perillo established the Andrea Biani shoe range .

* Former refugee women gain mobility through bikes. See how these women are taking the risk.

November 2019
* Interesting new development at the University of Southern California. The engineering school is offering a course entitled
Engineering Design for Global Challenges . It examines how refugees in camps can be helped by the students taking the course of study. Omer Azizi saw the class and thought “I am a refugee; I grew up as a refugee in camps, and when I saw this class, I was like, ‘This is made for me,’”
He is about to launch an App called Safar, which , came out of an assignment in the class. This App aims to solve the information gap that exists for refugees worldwide. These days, a smartphone, something his parents never had, is a necessity for survival in a refugee camp.
Look out for this app and lets see if it is useful for our students.

*The  year is galloping to a close. Our prizegiving is on the 5th December and that is really the end of our year.

October 2019
* Two Dunedin High School students have created a cooking book to celebrate the diverse ethnicities  of their city. 15% of the proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross refugee services. Can you help them by buying a copy of Harmony – A former refugee and immigrant cookbook?

* A young man, a former refugee, who did not have a comfortable childhood in New Zealand went back to Afghanistan to find the country he had left as a child. What he found inspired him to fund several microbusinnesses. See his story.

* The Government has changed the immigration policy that has been labelled “racist”.

* Many of our students have family caught up in Indonesia. Abdul Haidar, a journalist, is also caught in this country. He has written an essay recounting how it feels to be caught and unable to move.

“We want a fair process in resettlement without, leap-frogging, favoritism, gender and aged-based discrimination – we want food and shelter, medical assistance, accessibility to UNHCR in emergency situations while waiting to be resettled.

An Afghan man, who has been stranded in Indonesia as a refugee for the last six years, said, ‘No one is here by choice; neither is anyone here to go to a specific country. We are not here against the UNHCR, IOM or the Indonesian government today, but rather to plea that they treat us as human beings. We find no meaning in life anymore.”

These families cannot move, Nauru may be hell but Jakarta and Sumatra do not sound much better.

The authorities do not want these refugees. They are denied services. They are unable to see the UNHCR office personel. Desperate people queue on the street to try to get an appointment. They are unable move on. Will the Hazarra people be caught in this way at this choke point for ever?

September 2019
* The term is finished and we had a pleasant shared lunch. It is astonishing to think the next term is the last for 2019.

August 2019
*See how one former refugee has shown how his settlement in New Zealand felt for him. He has writen, illustrated and self-published a children’s book about a refugee’s first day at school.

* Let no one think for a minute that refugees do not bring or develop skills that are of great benefit to New Zealand. Michael Pham has just been honoured in Vietnam.  The “University of Auckland Business School alumnus and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Mitchell Pham, has been honoured in Ho Chi Minh City, with the local government recognising his contribution to entrepreneurial leadership and international impact in the city’s booming hi-tech industry.”

* Loneliness kills. Whether it is a former refugee worrying about lack of ability to reunify with family or older people of any nationality with no one to care about them. Humans need family near them. See the study.

July 2019
*Our efficient , tenacious, creative Director, Margaret Chittenden, has been awarded the ACE Tangi Tiriti award for outstanding service in development of the ACE sector. Margaret has worked with former refugees for many years and contributes so much to the lives of our adult students.

July 2019
*How the year is whizzing by. The second term finished with a shared lunch with students and teachers sharing their contributions.

The new term starts again on the 22nd July so look forward to seeing you all.

April 2019
*  Kiva, an international microfinance organisation is helping agricultural co-operatives in Africa. It is easy to be part of this development and help out those who are trying to help themselves. We can help out with this by donating to Kiva..

* “Muslim voices are those we most need to hear now.  This … may be of interest and use to all of us who teach, work with, Muslim students and families. ” Barry Hughes sent this to us.

*Jordan’s King speaks of positive ways to work with the huge number of Refugees in that country. He urges empowerment of refugees to rebuilt their societies.

March 2019
Victoria Martinez Azaro has created the web site Fashion & Heart which describes the Traveling Sewing Box ProjectRead about this development.  
This link shows the craft produced by REAF students: Patchwork and Applique.pdf

* Google has created a refinement of the Google Translate App. Translate conversations with Interpreter modeHave a look

February 2019
* A sewing machine given to a newly arrived refugee makes a huge difference. If anyone has a sewing machine they no longer need we would be very grateful for it.

* A former refugee sets out reasons why the new resettlement areas may not work well.

January 2019
* A thought provoking article from a former refugee woman who is honest about the difficulties she encountered as a child in the country the family was allowed to enter. She asks why she is constantly expected to be grateful.

* A new development in NZ this year is the arrival of a new chapter of Techfugees, a global body that aims to get the IT community helping refugees and displaced persons.

* A new year for REAF.  The teachers have hopefully had  a good break and will be back with their unflagging enthusiasm and dedication.

December 2018
* REAF held a great prize giving ceremony on the 10th December. Students had their hard work honoured and the many volunteers at the centre were thanked for their contribution in 2018.

After the ceremony students gathered for a morning tea of strawberries and cream. REAF is so grateful to Mr Adrian Barkia of the New World Supermarket in Remuera for his support of this event. Mr Barkia supplies the strawberries for the morning tea and he is so generous..

November 2018
* In October REAF was visited by three wonderful employees from Vodafone. Basma Hassan, Darren Fong and Keenan Earnest all young graduates, came to visit and deliver over 70 Thinkpad tablets for the children of our adult students. These graduates had volunteered for the project right from the beginning. They had to strip the devices of any Vodafone material before the machines could be released.

We showed them around our Centre and Early Childhood Centre so they could get a sense of the families who would benefit from the generosity of the company and of the time they had put into making the devices safe to go.

Now we have families whose children can be computer literate from pre-school until the end of High School. This is so important as the Education Department is changing requirements for student exams in the near future.

Vodafone has done us huge favour and we thank him and the company for their generosity.

October 2018
* A short form film about the refugee experience in New Zealand is touring Film Festivals world wide.

* An interesting article speaking of the vast difference between the term migrant and refugee. It looks at the literature from bothmigrants and refugees. It goes on to compare and contrast.

* The third term of the year has finished. REAF hosted a shared lunch to mark the start of the school holiday break.

*  Now the students have the laptops the next issue was internet access. Not all homes can afford a commercial contract for internet access.  The Spark Foundation has now linked with public libraries to create Spark Jump. Every family with children under 18 can get a free modem with the first $10.00 loaded on. This covers 30g of  data. Probably not enough for Netflix but the objective is to do the tests and homework set by teachers. The modem is prepay so can be topped up at any dairy.

Make an appointment at your local library during the holidays or call in and register.

We must congratulate Spark for this timely innovation, and congratulations to the Auckland Libraries for making themselves ever more an information hub for all levels of our society.
September 2018
* The Spark Foundation has donated 50 used laptops to the REAF Centre for use by the children of our students who have high school and intermediate school children. This laptop donation has many benefits for the entire family. For the parents, it means they are able to apply for jobs or fill in online applications, something most people don’t think twice about but if you don’t have a computer at home, it becomes more difficult.
For the children this donation will also enable them to keep up with the digital skills needed today. By having a laptop at home the high school students are able to continue working at home on school projects and assignments.

Having a digital device, most commonly a laptop,  is already a requirement for most secondary schools and even for some primary schools.

All of us at REAF are so grateful to the Spark Foundation for their generosity.

* August 2018
* A very heartening story. Interesting information about the role of myth and storytelling in maintaining ones culture.
*  A small turn around in influential thinking. This week a seminar in Wellington focussed on why a business benefits from hiring a refugee and/or migrant. Come on HR managers what does it take to change your rote employment thinking?  Give this thinking a chance.

* Another turnaround is the 6 nation announcement of these countries getting together to promote community private sponsorship of refugees. The article recounts how it started in Canada and is spreading to other countries that already supporting refugees.

*  July 2018
*  REAF has been written about in the latest Education Gazette. The reporter first saw the Centre when the Prime Minister came to open the new classrooms at Selwyn College.

*  The first group of refugees coming into New Zealand under the new pilot of the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category, have arrived. This  group is five families.  The new pilot is in addition to the Government’s existing refugee quota.

* Pomegranate Kitchen is in the news again. This Wellington company is doing well.  They employ women refugees and provide catering services — from light snacks and office lunches to sit-down dinners and large celebrations. The organization was selected last year as a top five New Zealand venture by SheEO, a global initiative created to radically transform how to finance, support and celebrate female entrepreneurs.

* A former refugee shares his experiences with secondary school students.  Dawit Arshak told Pompallier Catholic College students about his journey as a refugee and working to help new refugees settle in New Zealand.

Kiva, the mega micro lender has developed a new section devoted to funding for refugee families. Read how families in overseas locations can investigate funds to start small businesses.

* REAF students may like this information for  relatives overseas as exciting news of source of funding for refugee families. Read the story of Nour and the life she is creating in Lebanon.

*  How has the year sped by. The second term has finished and concluded with a shared lunch.

* April 2018
The first term concluded with a shared lunch. Have a good break. Teachers and students will take a well earned rest.

* The Prime Minister came to Selwyn College to open new classrooms. As part of the morning she greeted REAF students and their children. More Photos of this event will be available as soon as the technical help is found.

* Vaka Taulua, has set up a small loan structure for the Pacific Island community. Small no interest loans are provided to successful applicants.

* A Muslim women’s forum in Auckland is creating conversation with the wider community about employment, discrimination and housing.

March 2018
* Immigrant and refugee women in a project created to help people new to NZ to feel more at ease, What better than patchwork?

February 2018
* This ongoing innovation would be so astonishing and useful if it happens. It sounds a whole lot more interesting to use Block-chain for refugee innovation that to support BitCoin.

* This gentleman shares his refugee story including the time he was at Selwyn College. He outlines the horrible experiences refugees have to endure

* A great new initiative for refugee youth mainly run by high achieving refugee youth. Never say the country does not benefit from taking in refugees. Read the biographies and objectives of the group  and celebrate what is happening .

* IT is turning its mind to helping refugees in many ways.  Can you contribute to this development?

January 2018
* A former Tampa refugee reflects on the situation on Manus Island.

*  The World Socialist website reveals how the the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association “took the unusual step on November 30 of releasing a statement defending Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman, whose previous role as a lawyer with UN agencies has become the subject of a vicious right-wing campaign.  ”   

*  More news of the gifts the Tampa has given. Ali Mohammad Haidari tells of his journey to New Zealand and what he now does to give back to New   Zealand. To him “New Zealand is the lucky country which opened its doors to him and his family during their darkest hour. Now he considers himself to be the “luckiest” man.”

*A wellington Lawyer and refugee volunteer has found a way to provide employment for some refugee women. See what this group has achieved.

* The gift to New Zealand of the “Tampa boys” keeps giving to the country. Omid Rafyee is in his final year at Otago University  and will graduate with a BSc.

* The NZ government has announced a new scheme to permit refugees to be sponsored into New Zealand. Read the press release if you think it may apply to your family.   It appears to be based on the Canadian plan for private sponsorship

* New Zealand creates special refugee visa for Pacific islanders affected by climate change. “As some Pacific countries prepare to relocate entire communities, New Zealand’s newly-elected Labor-led coalition government has become the first country in the world to introduce a climate refugee scheme.” Reported in the Straits Times.

* The Waitemamta DHB has produced  web based information for immigrants and refugees The first site is, “Your Local Doctor” website -The second is an overview of the New Zealand health system. This material is available in English and Mandarin. A Hindi version may be available by the end of June.

Health system  Watch the English language version
Watch the Chinese (Mandarin) version

Your Local Doctor

*The new year is here. The start of the new school year is racing up. We are looking forward to seeing all our students and new faces who will be joining us this year.

* Astonishing that school finishes on the 7th December. The year has vanished so quickly another very successful year  at REAF.

* November 2017
“Former refugee introduces Persian Calligraphy to New Zealand in debut solo exhibition.”This will be on show in Devonport from the 2nd of December to 8th December, 28 Clarence St, Devonport.

October 2017
*  New Zealand has its first former refugee Parliamentarian. Golriz Ghahraman has entered Parliament on the Greens List after the recount of the special votes.

* Refugees who are living in Hamilton have been given bikes as their first form of transport.

*  School started again yesterday. Welcome back to all our students.

*  The shame of the destruction of a garden in the Hutt Valley. Vandals invaded and destroyed over 2000 plants raised by Mr Khaled Al Jouja, the Syrian refugee who started a garden and shared food with New Zealand families.  The community has responded to help Mr Al Jouja recreate the plants that were destroyed by local vandals. Money has been donated from all over the country. See the community working to restore the garden.

*  The school term finished last Friday. We held a shared lunch and will see students back for the last term of the year later in October.

August 2017
* YEEEEEAA we did it. We transferred money from one of our families to a brother in the unofficial Leda camp near Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh. We used Transfer Wise as Pay Pal fees have become too expensive. So the brother can be helped whenever our student family have enough money to send. They do not have to worry quite so much about their Rohinga relatives stuck in a camp from hell.

* See information about Solar Cooking devices that are used in refugee camps and by families that used to forage to find ever increasingly scarce wood for cooking fires. The one abundant source in these countries is solar energy

* A publication for refugee and immigrant youth at risk. See what Shakti Youth has produced.

* Tremendous news from Koasorn Tun our Burmese interpreter. She has studied for and passed the NZ School of Food and Wine Licence Controller Qualification.  She attended the Sale of Alcohol Act 2012 seminar and assessment and passed with 100% marks. Congratulations Koasorn.

* Free courses are now available to learn skills that may lead to a job. 

“Applications are now open to participate in the second intake of the Auckland Migrant and Refugee Training Enterprise Project (AMARTE) Programme, which includes Barista Style Coffee making & Kiwi baking sessions, training on food control planning and other upskilling opportunities.

Participants will meet as a group for a 3-hour session, 3 days per week for eight weeks, over two months, and learn from some fantastic guest speakers, as well as each other.

Expression for interest for the September intake close on 17 August.

Please note: This training requires compulsory attendance of 3 days per week for eight weeks & is worth $1,500 per participant!

When: Every Monday, Wednesday & Thursday.

Where: The Roskill Youth Zone & at the Wesley Centre, 740 Sandringham Rd.

Interested people can find more information by contacting:  Nazmin at 021 051 9942 or email “

July 2017
* We have had tremendous news from one of our students.

Maryam Delshad who was the Outstanding Student, REAF 2013 has been accepted as a PhD Student and Scholarship winner at Massey University 2017.

Maryam came from Iran to New Zealand in 2012. This is her story.

“From the time that I arrived in NZ, I started searching for an English class. Unfortunately all the English classes were asking for permanent residency or high amount of money, which I could not afford it at that time. 

Luckily I met one of my friends. She introduced Selwyn College to me since she was studying there as well. Then I spoke to Margaret Chittenden. She kindly, with an open heart, said to me “You are very welcome to come as a guest”. When I became eligible, I started studying formally over there, and participated in different English classes such as IELTS courses. My English class teachers were very kind and supportive all the time and they answered my questions with patience.

During this time Margaret suggested that I apply for a part time job at Selwyn College School as a “bilingual tutor”. One of my responsibilities was participating in different classes (particularly mathematics and science) with Iranian or/and Afghani students who had arrived recently to translate their teachers’ information from English to Farsi. It was a very good opportunely for me because it not only I helped some one who needs my help but I could also improve my English skills as well.

After two years, I took the IELTS exam. Then I contacted with Massey University. I have a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from my country and I wanted to continue in NZ at a higher level. I was accepted by Massey University as a Masters student of Nutrition which I completed in July 2017. As I completed the masters with an A grade in total and I became eligible to continue at a Ph.D. level. I have been awarded a 3 year scholarship from Massey to support my studies. I am researching bone health in children.

So, I have been in NZ for five years and now I am a Ph.D. student at Massey University.

This is my study journey in NZ so far and I hope I can finish it with a great result.

I would like to sincerely thank the following people at Selwyn College:

  • All my teachers, especially Brenda Corrigan, Dianne Reeves, and Gavin McCardle for their constant encouragement, patience, support, and guidance.
  • Margaret Chittenden for her ongoing support and encouragement.”

Maryam Delshad

*  Gavin and Pat have been working on ways to send funds to Bangladesh by money transfer from New Zealand. We think he have finally solved it. Watch out for development news.

* See how Karen refugees saved a church in Smyrna, Tennessee.

* See what former refugees have done to a run down area of New York. Utica City was a dying area and has been turned around. “After decades of decline, the city of Utica, New York, is growing again, thanks in part to its reputation as “the town that loves refugees.” And their basic reason for loving refugees is simple: An influx of new residents and workers have helped keep its economy afloat.”

June 2017
* Refugee women women join together to set up and maintain a a cafe. Everyone is learning about running a business and contributing their own cuisine to the menu. Women from different nationalities are making this work.

* On World Refugee Day, Armagan Sabetian a former refugee of thirty years in New Zealand , speaks about what New Zealand means to him.

* New Zealand may be getting their first List MP.  She came to this country as a former refugee. Golriz Ghahraman has a very high place on the Green’s list. Remember this woman when people ask why we should let refugees into New Zealand. They contribute a lot to the country.

* Rohingya refugees in Malaysia are finding ways to provide schooling for their children who are denied access to the national education system.  Shamshidha is among refugee children attending informal schools in Malaysia where refugees have no legal status.

* So encouraging to read of the success stories of former refugees. See what this Tamil family has done. These Women from Syria are helping recycle uniforms to transform them into a range of bags to reduce reliance on plastic.

April 2017
* The term finished with a share lunch. Then a two weeks break and back to school tomorrow the 1st of May. The new teaching hours seem to have worked out very well in Term 1.

March 2017
* John Key and Nicky Hager are both the sons of refugees to New Zealand. Interesting how each has effected their adopted country.

* Former refugees in Nelson volunteer to improve their English and by doing so find a job. This method is so effective it is surprising more people do not take it up.

February 2017
*  New Zealand may soon have its first refugee MP. Auckland barrister Golriz Ghahraman, originally from Iran, has been confirmed as a candidate for the general election.

*  February 2nd is the enrollment day at REAF. Make sure you are there early. Buiding is starting soon and parking may not be available. Watch your children in the parking space as trucks will be coming in on that narrow drive way. You may find parking either down by the gym or on the street in Southern Cross Rd, or Allum St.

*  A film, Together We Make A Nation, follows four women of former refugee backgrounds living in New Zealand: Ola from Poland, Neary from Cambodia, Yibeth from Colombia and Dalal from Syria. Their stories tell us about life in their former countries, why they had to leave and what life is like now in New Zealand, where they have come to be safe at last. Mostly filmed in the Wellington region. The project is a collaboration between Sandra Clark of Rabid Technologies and Steve La Hood of Story Inc. Sandra says, “Our message is that former refugee women are so resilient and strong. They are brave and resourceful and have so much to offer our communities. A direct contrast to the inaccuracies being portrayed in the international media”

January 2017
* The Minister of Immigration is in Malaysia. He has had talks with the Deputy Prime Minister to normalise working rights and
provide semi-skilled training for the Rohingya in Malaysia. This may lead to permission to work in Malaysia  legally. Many of our Rohingya students have family in Malaysia. This would be such a relief to them.

* An interesting series of articles in the NY Times discusses the difficulties of refugee re-settlement, even in this most accepting of countries,

*  What evokes the racist part of our psyche?   Why does it take so long to realise we are all the same,  just with different wrapping?   

* Former refugee to stand for the Green Party. “Golriz Ghahraman a former refugee and UN human rights lawyer is standing for the Green Party at this year’s election.  The Auckland-based lawyer is focussed on tackling child poverty and youth rights, among other issues of significance to Māori.” Maori Television.

* A new organisation helping refugee re-unification . 

“A charitable trust is giving refugees a second chance at life by helping fund their relocation to Manawatu.

Manawatu Reuniting Refugee Families Trust gives money to former refugees already resettled in Palmerston North to help bring their immediate family members to New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand’s tier one sponsorship allowed refugees living in New Zealand to sponsor their immediate family members.” Manawatu Standard

* A new year in the REAF progress. School is due back on February 2nd.

December 2016
* Tomorrow, the 8th December, is the last day of the year for our students. We will be having a prizegiving ceremony in the morning to celebrate the achievements of this year. School comes back in February. The programme will be a little different in 2017 with classes every morning for all students. Vocational classes will be held in the afternoons.

* Next week, John Key our Prime Minister retires from the office. He is another New Zealander who was a refugee welcomed to New Zealand. What a contribution he made to the country that welcomed him.

November 2016
*  How can we forget the huge amount refugees give to New Zealand when we read stories like that of Bob Narev and his family?  After surviving a concentration camp during the second world war, the family eventually made it to New Zealand where Mr Narev went on to a lifelong legal and corporate governance career that included being the founding chairman of Kiwi Property, chairman of the MFL Mutual Fund, and of companies in the Hugh Green Group. He and his family have added to the economic and cultural wellbeing of New Zealand and Australia  and continue to do so.

* Many years ago WINZ found a lot of their clients seeking emergency food help could not cook at all. The Nelson office created a cookbook for those these clients. You may like to have a look at it.

* Hamilton provides driving instruction in student’s first language. Government funding means 45 refugees have learned to drive in Hamilton through the government funded Refugee Driver Training Programme.

* Astounding to think school stops on the 8th December.

* News about the activities in the garden last week.
REAF was very fortunate to be the recipients of the generosity of the Kings Plants Barn in Orakei.  They have donated several bags of compost, sheep pellets and organic soil mix to our garden beds.
Many families actively use these garden as food from garden to table and find the beds great therapy to forget the hostilities they have experienced.  As well as many of our students have farmed in their countries of origin.  We are most grateful for these gift to our gardens.

* Every year at the end if the school year,   Remuera New World manager, Adrian Barkla, supports our refugees by subsidising  punnets of strawberries and chocolates.  We are most grateful for this ongoing support.  He has also donated many of the “Little Garden” plants for our student gardens together with a box of the seedlings to the Carol White Early Childhood Centre.

New World - Every day a new world

October 2016
*  Mitchell Pham demonstrates yet again the benefits former refugees bring to New Zealand. He has been appointed Chair of NZTech. Pham, who escaped Vietnam as a 13-year-old in 1985, will be taking over NZTech governance at what the company says is a ‘crucial stage’ for New Zealand technology.

* Sometimes the people who help assist former refugees with re-settlement issues feel helpless by being unable to help when it comes to family members still caught overseas and unable to join a family fortunate enough to have been given permission to come to New Zealand. This article shows what it can mean to help a family who are being overwhelmed by requests from relatives still caught in refugee camps.

* It is timely to remember what former refugees contributed to their new country. This family was cared for by great New Zealanders many years ago and a foundation was created for a successful settlement and future life in Auckland.

* A new film by Ken Loach, I Daniel Blake, shows the benefit system in the UK is just as problematic as the WINZ system in New Zealand. See this brilliant showing of how the system grinds down the person from day one and the cruel realities for those who fall through the cracks of society.

* Canada has started a private refugee-sponsor system. “The Canadian program allows people to sponsor a refugee for $12,600, which includes help with income and initial costs like groceries and rent. Nearly half the Syrian refugees Canada brought in starting late last year entered through private or quasi-private initiatives.”  CTV News.  Many countries are having a look at the scheme to see if it will suit their refugee efforts. If it can help families who have endured this type of journey why would we not do it?

* School is back. Classes are humming. Students are glad to see produce in their gardens.

* This Syrian refugee has wasted no time in finding a a part time job with his gardening skills. See how he is contributing to the community. Talk about giving back to the country that supported you!

September 2016
*The term finished this week on the 23rd. We held a shared lunch which was after a magic show from Madam Salami.
*Owners of the garden plots weeded their gardens in preparation for the holiday period. Seedlings are being grown over the holidays for planting in the new term
* The Spark Foundation is starting a scheme to provide the internet to poorer families at a very reduced rate. This is available especially those with secondary school students in the family. REAF is investigating if we can apply for our families.
*  The things we can do –  thinking laterally  We have a student who’s brother lives in the US. He had heard his brother’s wife had dled in a car accident. Our Student did not know where his brother lived in the US. In his shock and concern he could not remember his brother’s name, all he had was his phone number. By using the reverse lookup available in the US we were able to find out where his brother lived, and establish that a Refugee Centre was available to help the brother whose name we still not have, and check that someone was helping the family. This was so great.

August 2016
*  Consider this way of having a garden in the city. See the idea from the Mangere Community Gardens.
* Every kindness contributes to new lives in New Zealand.  Haneen Musa collected 95 backpacks and donated them to the Mangere Refugee Centre. Haneen shows how we can all contribute if we have the will to do so.

* Afghan Translators who worked with NZ troops and now live in New Zealand, have been honoured and recognised by the NZ Defence Force.

* We know that former refugees provide riches to their new country. Mr and Mrs Gok, who came to New Zealand as refugees when children, saved our whole Kumara industry.  Not only did they save the industry they  invented a way of storing kumara so they became available year-round for Kiwi tables.The economics of that gesture and their work can be understood by us all.

* The amazing story of the Syrian refugee, Yusra Mardini, who will swim in the Olympics. She used her swimming skills to guide the boat they escaped in.

* School is back. Remember if you have high school children who are out of zone, your enrollment at REAF provides a place in the College for them.

* A proud former refugee wins the annual pie making contest. This is his 5th win.

July 2016
* A member of the Auckland Refugee Community Coalition has congratulated Helen Clark on her comments made in the debate for a new secretary of the UN. She spoke of the contributions made to New Zealand by former refugees, and the way they have contributed to the country.

* School has finished for the term. We had a very small shared lunch to end the term. Most students were celebrating Ramadan.

* In Wisconsin immigrants have been given land to create a garden.  This article shows why this land is not just land but an expression of culture.

June 2016
* Another Syrian family create a garden in the grounds of the house they have been allocated. State house gardens are being regenerated by these keen gardening refugees who appreciate having the soil to plant in.

* Refugees in Indonesia are helping themselves by creating schools for their children.

Founded by refugees, for refugees, this unique initiative is giving these children a chance to go to school while they wait years for resettlement to a new country.

Read More :

Founded by refugees, for refugees, this unique initiative is giving these children a chance to go to school while they wait years for resettlement to a new country.

Read More :

Founded by refugees, for refugees, this unique initiative is giving these children a chance a chance to go to school while they wait for re-settlement to a new country.

Founded by refugees, for refugees, this unique initiative is giving these children a chance to go to school while they wait years for resettlement to a new country.

Read More :

Founded by refugees, for refugees, this unique initiative is giving these children a chance to go to school while they wait years for resettlement to a new country.

Read More :

The Government is minimally raising the refugee quota . This will not begin for two years.

* A recent account of the lives of former Tampa boys living in Australia.

* BreakBread, a concept envisaged by Vivienne Teo, is a new pop-up dining series bringing together top chefs and refugee communities within Auckland to celebrate cultural understanding and acceptance. Many of us from REAF attended their first function held at Hopetoun Alpha. Koasorn Tun our advocate and former REAF student spoke along side Mike McRoberts, Jacinda Ardern MP and Linda Chhim where they all spoke of “A letter to my eleven year old self”. These people shared their stories of growing up as a minority group in New Zealand. The Mon people are a minority group from Myanmar. We shared pickled green tea salad made by REAF students from Selwyn College and Naign Min who worked at Orphans Kitchen as a lunchtime chef with the support of Tom Hishon, chef and co-owner. 


We broke bread made by a pop up culture project. It was a humbling and enjoyable evening.


* Of course New Zealand has many many success stories as well. See this great account of a young woman who came to from a Pakistani refugee camp at age 6. This story shows why the work at REAF is so important. “Rez Gardi saw the worst of humanity as a child living in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Fast-forward 18 years and the aspiring human rights lawyer has been rubbing shoulders with world leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General hopeful Helen Clark” NZ Herald. How can anyone doubt the value former refugees contribute to New Zealand.

In spite of Australian Minister Peter Dutton’s campaign comments about “illiterate refugees”, there have been many success stories in Australia and New Zealand about the people who were given a chance. Nabi Baqiri is now the co-owner of a 182 ha orchard with a market value of A$10 million, but it’s been a long and treacherous journey to the Goulburn Valley, Victoria.

A fruit farmer who arrived from Nauru as an illiterate Afghan refugee and now employs dozens of labourers he has defended the work ethic of refugees and their contribution to Australia.

Nabi Baqiri, an Afghan granted asylum in 2004, said refugees are hard workers and form the backbone of the fruit-picking workforce around Shepparton in Victoria, along with Pacific Islanders and backpackers.

* What a great story from this Syrian refugee family newly settled in Lower Hutt. Khaled Al Jouja has dug up the back and front lawns of his new house and is planting a large garden.  This is what state houses were meant for.

* New Employment Assistance Programme for Migrants and Former Refugees
Migrants and former refugees looking for work are invited to take part in English Language Partners employment programme, Work Talk.
Under the Work Talk programme, learners complete a four-week course (12 hours per week) to learn how to approach employers, tailor CVs, prepare and practise for job interviews and develop professional networking skills. Once completed, each student is matched with a mentor, who coaches them as they look for work.

Learners must be confident users of English. The course is running at English Language Partners’ offices in Auckland Central, South, West and North. The organisation is also looking for migrants to become mentors for the course’s most recent graduates.

April 2016
* Former “Tampa Boy”,  Zakaria Hazaranejad, 
speaks out in support of Helen Clark’s bid to head the United Nations. He comments on what his time in New Zealand has done for him and other Tampa refugees.

* The new term starts on the 2nd May 2016.

* Looking for a job? Perhaps during the holidays you could contact the Red Cross Pathways to Employment and see what they have to offer you. 

* Dee Williams, the Refugee Advocate at REAF, will be taking study leave next week and part of next term. While she is away Pat Northey will be filling in for her.  Zohra and Kaosorn will also continue to be available.

* The power and immediacy of art as a social comment on the fate of refugees in Europe is shown here.

March 2016
* A great story about the transferable skills a refugee from Iraq brings to an Auckland firm.  This firm is reaping the rewards of hiring refugees.

* Helen Clark urges a rethink of humanitarian aid for the refugee issue.

*  University of Canterbury will hear from Abbas Nazari, a UC Political Science postgraduate, currently studying International Relations. Nazari was only seven when he became one of 438 Afghan refugees at the centre of an international incident when the captain of the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa rescued them from a small distressed fishing vessel off the Australian coast.

Nazari will give his personal and academic perspective on the perilous risks people take reach to a place of refuge in a lecture on the 23rd March.This lecture shall also discuss New Zealand’s refugee policy amidst the global response, with experts from Red Cross and local refugee groups in attendance for the public Q&A session to follow.

UC Connect public lecture, The global refugee crisis and New Zealand’s role, 23 March, 7pm, Ilam campus of the University of Canterbury.

* The Teachers at REAF have purchased and watched the 3rd series in the SBS “Go Back ….”  series.

* Doubling the refugee quota. The organisation behind this initiative, “Doing Our Bit Campaign” has published a very helpful booklet showing how NZers can help if they agree with this campaign. Contact Murdoch Stephens.

* David Shearer interviews Shirin Zakeri  about her refugee journey in New Zealand.
This article and the interview are in the  Indian Newslink.    David Shearer talks about the young woman he found. “I was lucky enough to find someone quite extraordinary: Shirin Zakeri, a 21-year-old law student at Auckland University. She arrived in New Zealand 11 years ago, with her parents and siblings, as a refugee from Afghanistan.
  Having grown up under the Taliban, Shirin had never had the opportunity to attend school because she was a girl. Yet just a few years later, she has learnt English and is doing well at the University.

She did not pretend it was easy to settle somewhere so new and different, and we talked about those challenges, but everyone in Shirin’s family is now studying or running a business.”

February 2016

* The Dominion Post editorial urges a change in the numbers of our refugee quota.

* Banksy reminds us of the value immigrants and refugees can add to their new country. Steve Jobs was the son of a refugee.

January 2016
* The contributions former refugees make to New Zealand is exemplified in the story of Najibullah Lafraie.  Dr Lafraie, his wife Zarghona and their four children came to New Zealand as refugees in 2000, after hiding from the Taliban for a year and eventually fleeing Kabul for neighbouring Pakistan.

* Canada is an immigration example to the world. “Canada leads in promoting rapid labour market integration, a common sense of belonging, and non-discrimination…. Being a world leader in integrating immigrants is not a recent phenomenon. Canada is the only country in the world that has welcomed nearly one per cent of its population (250,000) every year, for the past two decades.

* Malcolm Turnbull is being urged to show he is different from his predecessor.  Refugees on Nauru have asked him to accept the offer made by the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, to Julia Gillard, who was the then Prime Minister of Australia. How heartless can we be?  Come on Australia surely we can do another joint Tampa event.

* The first Syrian refugees have arrived at the Mangere Re-settlement Centre. They will complete the programme with 32 Burmese, 30 Afghans, seven Palestinians, four Colombians and one Iraqi refugee before relocating to the Wellington area.

*Happy New Year to all at REAF. Classes start again in February, look forward to seeing you there.

* Just give a family a chance and they will soar. “The Vijayarajan family knew virtually nothing about New Zealand before they were chosen to come here under our refugee quota. The father, Vijay, knew only that we produced dairy products because the Anchor brand has a foothold in their home nation, Sri Lanka.But three years after arriving the eldest daughter, Thanusiya – who turns 20 this year – has been accepted into the highly competitive Otago University School of Medicine health science course.…”

* Former refugee women have created a sewing collective. A clothing label designed and produced entirely by migrant and former refugee women in Auckland, has gone from selling to friends and family to getting bulk commercial orders. Cotton Seed is part of the New Zealand Ethnic Women’s Trust and is now two years old.

*Academic success for Nelson refugee student.  A tremendous success for this young man who will now be able to help other young persons in his community.

December 2015
* The Government has decided to reclassify as refugees, the Afghan interpreters formerly  unable to bring their families to New Zealand.  Afghan interpreters are delighted that Minister Woodhouse has confirmed they would now be covered by the refugee family support category – meaning those without family here can apply to bring them in immediately.

November 2015
* About 100 people from the Auckland Muslim community gathered in downtown Auckland recently to protest against the Isis violence in Paris. Hazara people were among those protesting  the French bombings. They also  ask who is looking at the other killings that are constantly occurring, especially in Kabul.

* Intensified computer checking between WINZ and the Customs Department means more benefits are being cut if people travel overseas without telling WINZ they are going. “Benefits related to jobseeker support were those most often cut.”  If are leaving the country for anything, tell WINZ and get their agreement before you travel anywhere.

* Gulwali Passarlay is a young political refugee living in England, who would like to eventually be the President of his homeland, Afghanistan.

October 2015
* Selwyn College students with refugee backgrounds made a presentation at the recent AUT Refugee Education Conference on October 1 and 2. Lis Haraqia and Haadi Sarwari shared their experiences of how their lives have changed.

* Classes begin again today. Best wishes for the new term.

* During the holiday REAF staff and students – as well as Selwyn College high school students – attended a conference on Refugee Education hosted by AUT University. REAF staff and students offered four presentations on how the REAF experience continues to be successful.  Sewlyn College  also received a certificate from the National Refugee Network in recognition of the school’s contribution to the educational development of refugee communities. 

* Have you ever thought of being a volunteer to your own community? See what the St Johns calling service does for older people who are alone. It is far easier for an older person, who is alone, to talk in their first language than in English.

September 2015
* The term has finished. Take a break everyone.

*IRD number application changes. Updated form available from 1 October.

* “Refugees Need More Than a Warm Inner Glow”  This Australian writer reminds us that re-settlement is a complex issue.

* The school term finishes on the 25th September. A shared lunch will be held on that day.

* The Tampa community asks the government to allow more refugees into NZ.

* Many New Zealanders say they are willing to take a Syrian family into their homes.

* The Commerce Commission has released their report on Truck Shops. These predatory vendors cause real harm to low income families.

* More opinion on why we should increase the refugee quota immediately.

August 2015
* Our Refugee Council urges the Government to take more refugees.  Can’t we think back to the action the Labour Government took over the Tampa refugees?  That was few enough but at least it was something. This Sunday the Hazara Community celebrate New Zealand’s rescue action  which happened 15 years ago.

* Former PM, Helen Clark urges a “radical rethink” by New Zealand and other countries. What does it matter what we call them? Refugees or migrants?

* The chorus for more refugees to be allowed into New Zealand swells. Nelson College joins the call. A NZ Herald opionion piece reminds us of the past reluctance to help strangers in distress.

* See how refugees stranded in Indonesia are helping other refugees avoid travel by flimsy boats. “It’s not quite Good Morning Vietnam but the Farsi introduction on Radio Pars (Persia) draws in Afghan­ and Iranian refugees and asylum-seekers listening from Indon­esia, Malaysia, Thailand and Darwin. To the roughly 7000-strong audience, the program run by volunteers Mohammad and Shirin Bagherian offers more than a bright spot on a bleak horizon.”   From The Australian.

* The endless problem with identity. Is the passport birth date accurate when the birth certificate is not available and probably never will be? Immigration NZ seems to think so.

* Recent developments in Afghanistan.

* Roberto Corona visited REAF to share his smile and to tell us about his mission to collect smiles from around the world. With his trusty camera, Roberto has captured many happy moments and he spreads his message of joy wherever he goes. His website tells all concerning his mission and how to support it.

* McAuley High School students show support for  an increase in refugee numbers.  The Green Party is also pushing more refugee numbers to be allowed into NZ by supporting a draft private members bill .

* A German city that sees benefits in welcoming refugees.  New Zealand could well take time to consider this.

July 2015
* School starts again tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing everyone. We have 2 sewing machines that have been donated. If you are interested ask Margaret about them.

* Taranaki shows support for increasing the number of refugees allowed to enter New Zealand.

* Helen Clark comments on the flow of refugees around the world. Specifically comments on the progress in Turkey.

* The term has finished. The closure was celebrated with a community lunch. School will reconvene on July 20th.

* This week the issue of the Tampa was discussed. It was recommended that the book by Marr & Wilkinson, Dark Victory, Allen & Unwin, NSW, Australia, 2005, provided an overview of the Tampa event and those that followed. The book is a horrifying read.  Recent events in the same part of the world has resulted in these Guardian articles.

June 2015
*The NZ Gardener article profiling the REAF garden  has been republished on the Stuff site.  Information about the work at REAF is spread to other areas of the country.

* It is Volunteer Week. See how you can volunteer and increase your well-being. Volunteer numbers are dropping throughout the country so join in the donation of time if you can.

* The NZ Herald shows how our country benefits from the refugees who actually get permission to come to New Zealand.

* The New Zealand Red Cross  celebrated World Refugee Day at a parliamentary event hosted by the Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse.

* The discussion about New Zealand taking more refugees continues. Many people advocate for more refugees to be invited into NZ but the Government seems to be adamant. However the Minister may consider the submissions from Amnesty International.

* How the story continues. A member of the Tampa boys group tells how it has been for him since 2002. His resilience has been the key to his journey in New Zealand.

* This article reminds us of the dangers people  go through to get to this country. A Hazara refugee tells his story.

* You may feel overwhelmed by the refugees of the world. See how volunteers make a difference to the former refugees’ experience of New Zealand. You can do something.

* Some of REAF’s students have joined the WISE Collective – a community project that supports migrant and former refugee women to become financially independent. Working from the Orakei Community Centre, REAF students are involved in a host of different enterprises. Check out the East & Bays Courier: Wise Collective.pdf

May 2015
* Selwyn College Continuing Education is running some interesting gardening classes for REAF students.

*Interesting comment on the difficulty of finding work for former refugee job seekers. NZ does not make it easy.

* REAF is delighted to be collaborating with Diana Albarran, founder and designer of Out&About with Little Ones This is a a socially responsible brand of babywearing accessories and smart solutions for mothers on the move with little ones.

A group of former refugee mothers originally from Afghanistan and Burma, are students at REAF  These mothers are highly skilled seamstresses, although barriers such as family commitments and language haven’t allowed them to find a job yet. Diana wants to help them have an income for their families while gaining continued confidence integrating into NZ society.

Check out the site and see what is available.

* This site documents frugal living tips in New Zealand. Perhaps the REAF women can add more of their own tips to the collection.

April 2015
* Malaysia encouraged to examine the national stance on refugees.

March 2015
* Kiwis in support of more refugees. The
Refugee Council backs the call from Dame Susan Devoy to increase the humanitarian quota  of  more refugees coming into New Zealand.

* Anti-terror laws and homelessness. How anti-terror laws promote homelessness in NZ. A catch 22 situation.

*Rohullah Nikpai, the man who won the first Olympic medal for Afghanistan, is a new student at REAF.

February 2015
* See what the Afghani cricketers have achieved. Such a great story.

* Students have been welcomed back to REAF with classes starting on the 4th of February. Lots of new faces, lots of new arrivals at the Early Childhood Centre.

December 2014

* The term is finishing. Prizegiving was a great occasion. 3 senior students gave speeches, they were so good.   REAF has had a very successful and full on year. Next year classes begin on February 4th.
* Another great success from the community. A student from AUT,  Hiwot Woldeyesus, originally from Ethiopia came to New Zealand as a refugee with her seven year old daughter in 2004. This week she graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree.
*A great success story. Nursing student Nida Alizadah is the first woman in her family to attend a tertiary institution.  She has been awarded a nursing scholarship.   The family has links with REAF as her father was a Tampa boy.    
* Scholarships to migrant and refugee nursing students. 

Pegasus Health (Charitable) Ltd this year extended its annual scholarship programme to include students from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

With scholarships being offered to Maori and Pacific applicants for a number of years, the organisation felt that the addition of this group as scholarship recipients should be made in recognition of Christchurch’s changing population demographics.

November 18th saw four scholarships awarded to Ade George (Nigeria), Ai Niida (Japan), Nida Alizadah (Afghanistan) and Anna Inhwa Lee (Korea) in front of their friends, family and invited guests. “It is vital that our workforce reflects our population; more so in health where language and culture remain significant barriers to access. As well as qualifying as nurses, graduates from non-English speaking backgrounds bring linguistic and cultural skills into the health arena”, said Wayne Reid, Refugee and Migrant Health Manager at Pegasus Health.

As part of the application process, each applicant wrote a 1000 word essay regarding how they will make a difference in the community with their nursing degree. Wayne Reid described the process of reading the essays and selecting the recipients as, “humbling, rewarding but very difficult, given there was so many worthy applicants.” In her essay, recipient Ade George, a second year nursing student at CPIT, spoke of her choice in nursing. “I chose this path in search of life-changing events, to touch lives of others by either a great measure or unnoticed, to care for and give in ways that utilises my natural strength and benefits others.” Recipient Ai Niida from Japan, also in her second year as a nursing student at CPIT, described what inspired her to pursue nursing upon her encounter with Japanese Red Cross nurses. “Meeting a group of Japanese Red Cross nurses – sent to support Japanese migrants affected by the Canterbury Earthquakes – inspired me with their professionalism, commitment and skill, reinforcing my desire to pursue a life-changing nursing career”…

The Pacific Scholarships, to be awarded on December 11 2014, inspire Pacific students to work in areas of health; encouraging the understanding and treatment of Pacific Health. “While language and culture remain significant barriers to the access of health, the CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) graduates’ linguistic and cultural skills will be an asset to the health sector and the community.

….”The addition of CALD Scholarships to Pegasus Health’s current Pacific and Maori Scholarships not only boosts the integration of cultural and linguistic skills, it encourages the representation of the changing New Zealand population in the work force,” said Vince Barry CEO Pegasus Health.   Pegasus Health media release 8.12.14

*In Auckland former refugee women are transforming their lives .  Join them if you can.
November 2014
* Never give up on your English learning. This mother shows the way.
* Syrian refugees welcomed by New Zealand.
* New Zealand Red Cross Awards –  Refugee of the Year Award – Adam Awad
Adam Awad arrived in New Zealand in 2001 after spending three years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and more than a decade in Sudan working with young people under the auspices of the UNHigh Commissioner for Refugees. He came to Zealand on a work visa to marry, his then fiancé of 13 years, Khadra, who had settled here as part of New Zealand refugee quota. The couple now have three children, all proud New Zealanders.
October 2014

* Microlending sources do exist in Auckland. Have a look at both the Salvation Army scheme, the Auckland Women’s Loan Fund and the Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust.

+ The Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust’s mission is to alleviate poverty within New Zealand and build a more just and equitable society through economic and social inclusion. They advocate for and assist in the provision of safe and fair finance options that strengthen financial independence.

+The Salvation Army  Community Finance scheme offers affordable loans for approved people on low incomes (wage earners or benefit recipients). The scheme is a partnership between The Salvation Army, the Ministry of Social Development, Bank of New Zealand and Good Shepherd NZ.

+The Auckland Women’s Loan Fund aims to create opportunities which enable women on low incomes to work toward financial independence.

*School starts again on Monday. Make sure your child’s HOP card has the right info on it to get the secondary school discount

The Maxx page says:-

“Make sure you are getting the best deal by buying an AT HOP card and registering it in your child’s name to start saving.

  • If your child is under 16 years, the child concession will be applied automatically based on the date of birth you provide.
  • If your child is over 16 and still attending school, you or your child can apply for a secondary student concession at a customer service centre.

If your child uses an AT HOP card that is not registered to them, adult AT HOP fares will apply. The AT HOP card comes pre-programmed to charge adult fares, and a child or secondary school concession must be applied for child fares to apply.”

September 2014
* Hazara people who are New Zealand citizens should be aware of the dangers of returning to visit family in Afghanistan. This Hazara man, an Australian citizen was killed by the Taliban on a return visit to Kabul.
* This term finishes on Friday 26th September. The Early Childhood Centre will be hosting a shared lunch.
* Selwyn College adult refugee student Malang Mabior has had her wish come true!  After many years apart, she is finally reunited with her son. Malang is from South Sudan and during the fighting in Sudan during the 1990s, she fled her village with her family. Tragically, she became separated from her 4-year-old son Johnson who was holding the hands of his grandparents as together they ran in a different direction from Malang.

It took 10 years before Malang was to have contact with her son again. Both groups of the family wandered separately from country to country within Africa for years. Malang’s husband and daughter died during that time. When Malang became an official refugee in a Kenyan refugee camp, two things happened. First, she was accepted by New Zealand as a quota refugee. Second, there was a knock on her door the day before she was to leave for NZ. A young teenager at the door asked, “Are you Malang Mabior?” Malang answered, “Yes, I am. Who are you?” The boy answered, ““I’m Johnson Nyok Deng.  I’m your son.” He had found her after years of searching through the UNHCR registry of refugees.

The next day, Malang sadly left for New Zealand.
Once settled in NZ, she applied to have Johnson come and live with her through the Family Reunification program. It took 10 years, with a great deal of support from Selwyn College REAF staff Dell Raine, Penelope Shadbolt and Pat Northey
Finally, Johnson was accepted to join his mother in NZ.  He arrived on Saturday, September 13th.  He, Malang and Malang’s other children are very happy. Johnson says he feels “free” here and that Auckland is very different from Nairobi.  “This place is very nice. A little bit cold but so nice and clean!” He is looking forward to improving his English on the adult refugee programme (REAF) at Selwyn College while he adapts to his new country.
August 2014
* A sad story of a refugee initiative that has had to be stopped because of theft and lack of insurance.  Can anyone do anything to help this group and the children who cannot now get to the homework class? Remember how important it is to have insurance for the car. Full insurance if possible but certainly 3rd party insurance in case you hit another car.
* Electoral help is available from the library with pamphlets in many languages. Interesting to see one in Farsi.
July 2014
* The Government has made a new place for information. It is meant to be a one stop shop for all government information. Start here for information on anything from driving licenses to family re-unification.
* Another Tampa boy has a thriving new life. Abbas Nazari from Afghanistan who arrived in the country without being able to speak a word of English came third in a spelling bee just five years after arriving and is now studying political science and history so he can make a difference.
May 2014
* New immigration policy is to begin next year. See the Power Point. An important point to emerge from this address is that all visa applications will have to be completed online and accompanying documents scanned.
* The Government is making small loans available to borrowers who usually do not qualify for a loan from an established bank and then have to resort to money-lenders. This Government initiative will offer interest-free and low-interest loans to low-income borrowers banks don’t normally lend to.
*School is back and all classes are starting the new term with energy.
April 2014
* The first term has finished. Very satisfying conclusion to the longest term. School returns on the 5th May.
* REAF students will have to take care about intended travel arrangements. The MSD Ministry is data matching with Customs and checking travel arrangements closely. Even if family is helping with the fare, it is not the policy of MSD to allow overseas travel while on a benefit.
March 2014
* Ten-year Anniversary of REAF on Site and Establishment of Carol White Family Centre
On March 29 REAF celebrated 10 years on site at Selwyn College as well as 10 years of the Carol White Family Centre which has provided quality education and care-giving to the children of REAF students. Also celebrated was the 80th birthday of REAF co-founder Roy Clements.  A warm and sunny afternoon saw a large crowd of well-wishers gathered on the REAF lawn for delicious food, entertainment by the Selwyn Community Education theatre group, and cake cutting. Congratulations to all involved. 
*Refugee Reception Centre to be Refurbished.

The country’s refugee-processing centre is being overhauled — with the capacity to house a huge and sudden intake if necessary. The Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre was originally built as World War II barracks. The new designs include a soccer field, more open green space, and a generally less military-type building layout.

* Citizenship – Congratulations to the Mohammadi family who have just gained their New Zealand citizenship. Abrahim and Sogrha are students at REAF and Abrahim has attended our Citizenship Class run by Dee Williams. 
* REAF is often given good quality recyclables – including clothing, household goods and even furniture. REAF students can make good use of these items, especially when they are setting up home. In March – Social Studies students from 9/4 in the main school of Selwyn College gathered together a large number of donated items and presented them to some of our REAF students. Their topic was Servant Leadership – ‘leading alongside’, and this was the incentive to share. News from Yearbook editor Elizabeth Ardley.
* Citizenship – Congratulations to Lemlem Habtemariam Kifle who has gained her New Zealand Citizenship. She and her son Noah were made New Zealand citizens on the 10th March 2014.
* The NZ Herald reports on a new Immigration Bill.
Immigration officers will have power to search shops, houses without warrant. “Immigration officers will gain police-like powers to enter and search homes without a warrant under law changes designed to stamp out exploitation of migrants – a move that is being questioned by lawyers and civil rights groups.”
* The year is settling down. Classes are in full swing and we have the welcome addition of REAF Yearbooks on this site.
February 2014
*School is back for the first term of 2014. The Carol White family Centre is humming with the cries of children. New students are enrolling and other students are returning.
* The Tampa children reflect on their rescue 12 years on. The article has a lovely photo of their rescuer, captain of the MS Tampa, Arne Rinnan.
December 2013
* An Australian book on the fate of refugees trying to reach Australia is a contribution made by leading Australian writers.
A COUNTRY TOO FAR: WRITINGS ON ASYLUM SEEKERS  Edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally Viking, $29.9.
Can literature help to recalibrate a nation’s moral compass? And can a single book elevate a nation’s conversation with itself above the roar of intolerance and abuse? Big questions, and no doubt overly ambitious ones, but A Country Too Far, a new collection of writing on asylum seekers edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally, constitutes an important contribution to a great moral issue of our time. It’s an issue unlikely to fade away given Indonesia’s resistance to the new Australian government’s ”turn back the boats” policy.”  Read more.
* At Christmas remember how hard it is for former refugees who have not found REAF help.  Auckland does not offer a comprehensive resettlement hub, it is sink or swim for most. At REAF this makes up a large part of what is offered to the students. Too many not at REAF find the same situation as Kafeba Mundele,I want to work, I want to contribute, I want to say thank you to this country for welcoming me, but the doors are not open to me,” Mundele said.
*The end of year celebration will be held in the gardens of the REAF Centre at 10.00am Wednesday 11th December. This will be followed by morning tea and the children’s Christmas Party.
* The changing face of New Zealand. New citizens from many countries. Note the comment about REAF. “Selwyn College’s renowned Refugee Education for Adults and Families (REAF) programme.”
November 2013
* The term is finishing very quickly. Next year will be the 10th year REAF has been operating. Congratulations to all who made it happen and continue to pour their heart into it.
REAF students who live in HousingNZ houses will have to have a look at what this legislation may mean for them. The NZ Herald has an article which is helpful.
* This year Roy Clements has created another way for former refugees to continue learning  English and learn about the New Zealand Bush. For half the morning the students were in the classroom learning useful words and phrases. The other half of the morning was spent in Selwyn Park learning practical skills relating to clearing and planting. Steps have been built in the area for easier access. Students learn about native trees, shrubs, grasses and ferns. Common weeds and weedkillers. Planning and building a garden, planting and caring for plants and growing plants from seed and cuttings.
October 2013
* Immigration Department Closing Offices
 Immigrant advocates fear the closure of Immigration New Zealand branches will make it hard for people forced to deal with their applications online and via call centres.  
Immigration New Zealand says the Sydney office has already closed, Dunedin will close and the Wellington, Manukau, Hamilton and Queenstown branches could also shut.  Four other overseas branches are also under review.  
National president of the Federation of Multicultural Councils Tayo Agunlejika says some immigrants struggle with the internet and communicating with call centres.   He says Immigration New Zealand should consult with immigrant communities about the changes it is considering.
*Interesting development in self help in Australia. This is Rise – “Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees is a not-for-profit incorporated association. RISE is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia to be run  by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees; as such, we view those who seek assistance from RISE as members and participants, not “clients”.”
*REAF is on holiday now. It is astonishing to realise the next term is the last one for the year. The garden has been very productive during the 3rd term, and the Centre has a had an excellent number of students attending the English and vocational courses. Several students have found work in the last term which gives confidence to all who are still trying hard to learn English.
August 2013
*  A warm congratulations to Margaret Chittenden on her recent nomination for a National Excellence in Teaching Award. Margaret is certainly a deserving nominee. She is an outstanding classroom teacher and a very fine Director of REAF. Well done!
* Students from eastern Europe may have their own recipes for Ajvar. Tell us if you make this delicious spread.  

June 2013
*  The Immigration Amendment Bill has passed its 3rd reading. Part of this Bill contains a change which includes “limits on family reunification and reassessment of a claimants refugee status and before a person can apply for permanent residence.” 
Tracy Barnett comments about this new law.

*The latest refugee newsletter.

* REAF recently had a new family enroll for English lessons. When asked how they found out about REAF the father told us he had found this web site before he had embarked on his journey to New Zealand, so three days after they arrived in the country they were at REAF to enrol. I love the power of the Internet.

May 2013

* The Mangere Refugee Centre is having an upgrade It will be rebuilt at a cost of $5.5 million over the next four years. The new 192-bed facility will be built using a public-private partnership procurement model.

In Australia – The Government has done something really interesting to support refugees and asylum seekers and those refugees arriving by boat.  In yesterday’s budget they announced – “On top of the $3.2billion extra required to intercept and detain asylum seekers arriving by boat – as well as caring for those  in the community – the government will channel an extra $943million in foreign aid money to supporting asylum seekers over four years.”


* Funded Services for Migrants and Refugees in the Auckland Region.

The Auckland Council commissioned this paper. REAF definitely fits the bill of organisations that support the settlement programme.

“International research on immigration has demonstrated that migrants’ early settlement experiences contribute significantly to their subsequent economic and social outcomes. These studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between early settlement factors relating to the social and economic integration of migrants and their longer-term employment success and general well-being. The purpose of this project was to map the services provided to migrants and refugees in the Auckland Region that support the settlement process, with the aim of providing a snapshot of funded services, along with any overlaps and gaps.

* Term 2 begins today. We have had a dreadful storm all night. Lets hope nothing is flooded in the classrooms. New students are expected to arrive and enroll. The REAF student body continues to increase.

April 2013
The first term is ending tomorrow. Students and teachers will be joining in a REAF shared lunch at the Early Childhood Centre.

March 2013
Multi ethnicity in New Zealand and why NZers have to start learning other languages. The children at REAF are going to be the fortunate ones in the future. Naturally multi lingual.

*  Why does Auckland not capitalise on the multi lingual population? They certainly have not been to REAF.

February 2013

* Family reunification numbers from the Tampa   are examined. Is official opinion on refugees bringing family to New Zealand changing? Currently it can take two years to even gain permission to apply to bring the family member to this country and then another two years to hear if that permission has been granted. If official policy intends to extend the time and narrow the category it will be hard for any former refugee to sponsor a family member. It is interesting the article has no mention of the fees charged to those applying.

* The benefits of the Early Childhood Centre. A new finding showing babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures.

* Enrollment at REAF is very high this first term of the year. Some classes are already full. This raises an issue of expansion space which may be limited.

* A new class is being offered at REAF this term. Dianne Reeves is running “Conversation and Craft” This is a chat group where the students will gain confidence with their speaking and listening as well as learning to knit. The first project is a “Peggy Square” blanket. It is hoped that participants will share a craft from their country of origin and teach the class how to make the item.

* “New Zealand may come to Australia’s aid with an offer take in some of its asylum seekers.” The Prime Minister of New Zealand appears to have agreed to take a certain number of asylum seekers being held in Australian settlement camps. The final number agreed is 150 annually.  They will part of New Zealand’s annual quota of 750 refugees.  It will be interesting to see if any of these families come to REAF and Selwyn College.

* School is back and next week will be busy with enrollment and photos. A good time to look at the volunteer work of the Iraqi Children’s Aid & Repair Endeavor. They sell a cookbook   of Iraqi and Middle Eastern recipes, using the proceeds to give children free dental and medical help.

* The Minister of Immigration has released a policy statement relaunching the Refugee Resettlement Strategy. The five main points of this strategy are :-
* Self-sufficiency – all working-age refugees are in paid work or are supported by a family member in paid work.
* Participation
* Health and well being
* Education – particularly in English language skills* Housing – so that refugees live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes, without needing government housing assistance.

See more about this new policy.

* The New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law has a useful bibliography on “Refugee Rights”. Check it out here.

* REAF now has access to the two series ofGo Back to Where You Came From“. See the second series on YouTube.

December 2012
Part of the Hunt (ed) Selwyn College Jubilee Book written for the 50th Jubilee celebrations has a chapter on the creation of REAF.

2. Penelope Shadbolt and Roy Clements both retired from REAF at the end of 2012. As well as being a English language ESOL teacher, Penelope ran the resettlement support office, a very important element of the services offered by REAF.  Last year she stopped teaching English to focus on the resettlement issues that our adult students encounter. As the Auckland City services to former refugees are being cut back constantly, the help available at REAF is critical for our students’ welfare. Roy will be devoting his time to the Purewa Valley and Selwyn Gardens behind the college.

3. We were fortunate to be awarded  a small grant from the Lotteries Commission. This is vital for maintaining the ongoing operation of our resettlement programme. Many thanks to the Commission.

4. School finishes this week, with the prize giving being held tomorrow, 11th December.

5. Refugee Services joins the Red Cross.

6. Knowledge Auckland
   has published a study of “Funded Services to Migrants and Refugees in Auckland”, Auckland Council, Research Investigations and Monitoring Unit, RIMU. The findings repeat those promoted by REAF directors for many years.

1. Sweeping changes have been made to the garden. Individualised plots have been allocated and many more families are participating in managing these plots.

October 2012
It is school holidays until October 15th. Look forward to seeing everybody back then.

September 2012

1. Margaret Chittenden and Zohra Amiri were fortunate to attend “ Inspiring Financial  Literacy in Auckland” on September 7 at the Fickling Centre.  The event was to ”grow partnerships and provision” and was sponsored by a number of organisations including COMET, Auckland Council, MIT, Mercury Energy .The conference was addressed by Hon Craig Foss, Minister of Commerce, Penny Hulse , Deputy Mayor of Auckland Council and Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner.

Margaret was happy to  have the opportunity to present the refugee perspective  at the workshop Financial literacy and citizenship – Culture, Participation and Money chaired by Berlinda Chin, Office of Ethnic Affairs. She introduced a refugee perspective to financial literacy.

2.  Kayla, Aimee, Aldric, Benjamin, Whitioru and Sam all from Year 8, Glendowie Primary School visited REAF on 30 August  to talk to some of our students about their experiences as refugees.  They were accompanied by Sabrina, their mentor. This was part of their project to prepare their topic for  the Year 8 exhibition on “How we share our planet” . The area of their investigation was on racial prejudice  and they made verbal presentations to accompany their display at the exhibition on Wednesday 29 September based on their findings.

Having had some first hand stories  from our refugees they decided that they would like to support some of our new families and they have organised a collection of household items for some of our newly arrived families from the community.

3. Our new garden angel is Captain Ange Rickwood. We will have her photo soon.  This is her message about the garden and the new management strategies. “In the gardening program at REAF we currently offer students the opportunity to learn how to garden in New Zealand. Many refugees come from dramatically different climates and have not had access to land for growing food. At REAF we promote free food through gardening.

The benefits of gardening are grand. Not only is it a food source, it is a relaxing and productive activity. During the lessons outside, people practice their English literacy and conduct social conversations with others.

Students are able to learn the names of New Zealand fruits and vegetables which helps when out shopping.

All new students are welcome to join in.

We also welcome donations of seeds.”

3. Go Back to Where you Came From
During August/September many of us watched this three part series. It was harrowing. I would challenge NZers to buy the DVD and watch the second series.


August 2012

1. The first Sir Paul Reeves Memorial Lecture has been given by given by Dame Anne Salmond. Her words have deep meaning for our society.

2. The cooking classes are going well. We intend to add the weekly recipes to this page.

3. The garden has a new management. The strategy for the area has changed. It has been decided to subdivide the garden area and allocate plots to families that are interested in taking ownership of a personal garden and are willing to maintain the plot.

4. A Northland principal has made people think by offering these suggestions in his school newsletter.

July 2012
1. The new term started on 16th July and we have a tutor for the men’s group activities. He is David Ting.
David has taught English in Vietnam, China and the Thai-Burma border where he worked with refugees and illegal migrants for four years . David runs a weekly social group for refugee men at REAF.  The group is a chance to relax, speak in English and enjoy fun activities, and it is held every Wednesday from 12 noon to 1pm.  All men are welcome to attend!


June 2012
The term finishes today, the 29th June.

2. The early childhood centre has received a very positive ERO report.

3. The men’s group has started. It is a weekly event.

4. A museum visit is planned for this week.

5. We have had a big loss this month. Our gardening angel, Del Raine, has retired to Whangamata. We are so sorry Del has left us, her creative gardening has been at the heart of REAF. We wish her the very best at Whangamata. It is wonderful place to be.

6. Selwyn College once more has a Board of Trustees.


May 2012
The new health and fitness classes are Zumba classes held on Wednesdays for one hour. Pilates in also offered as a one hour class on Tuesday. The next development is a men’s recreation group the form of which is to be announced. Zohra will have details very shortly.

2. Extension courses.
We are running a general IELTS class for those interested in going on to further education, other students attend Kiwi English, sewing, craft, gardening, cooking, and driving. In Term 2 there are opportunities for sport and exercise and possible jewelery making. these classed are very successful and are providing opportunities for students to gain confidence and extend their skills.

Gardening has continued with enthusiasm and a change of direction. Del Raine, our gardening angel, has developed plots for groups of students to plant and maintain. We are having regular “market days”  where plot holders are able to sell their surplus at very reasonable prices. There is competition for the produce and interest in the gardening plots is high. The garden is a very significant part of our environment  and gives enormous pleasure to everyone.

3. Linked with the community/refugee issues.
Staff have been very privileged to attend community functions, including weddings, Mon National Day, Burmese New Year and the tenth
anniversary of the Ratanadipa Buddhist Temple.

REAF staff have also attended the Race Relations Workshop run by The Human Rights Commission and  the Regional Settlement Network  meeting run by Auckland Refugee And Migrant Services.



April 2012

1. Great statistics this year.

At the beginning of February we welcomed 150 students to the programme from Burma, Afghanistan, Sudan, China, South America, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and other countries. We got off to a great start with a fabulous trip to Wenderholm, supported by Water Safety New Zealand  staff who accompanied us. Two full buses set off from Selwyn, including all the children from the Carol White Family Centre and we had a lovely day. Students and their children swam, beachcombed, played games and ate a magnificent picnic under the shade of the Pohutukawa trees. Thanks so much to Jayne and Stacey for their organisation of the day.

2. New position, community liaison co-ordinator.

The Carol White Family Centre was successful in its funding application to Lottery Grants Board  for the costs of a part time Community Liaison Coordinator. This position is to help parents of children at CWFC to access funding  from Work and Income, to provide further opportunities for parents to integrate into the community, to find work experience, suitable further education and future employment. We were very pleased  that Zohra Amiri was awarded the position which complements the other work she does for REAF and Selwyn College. Congratulations Zohra!

This has enabled classes in addition to our daily  ESOL classes through the support of  Selwyn Community Education. We are so lucky to have the support of Margaret Stewart for these courses.

3. REAF Staff.

We welcomed Gavin McCardle as Deputy Director REAF. We have known Gavin for many years as he has helped out as a reliever and a volunteer. We are so fortunate to now have him as part of our permanent team.

We also welcome Mele Sega who comes to us from the ESOL department in the main school with many years of experience.


March 2012

1. REAF is humming again. Students are back, classes are full and the early childhood centre is buzzing. Two grant applications have already been submitted so support activity is well underway. Grant money from last year has been allocated for a new position that will intensify the integration help available from REAF to the students.

2. ERO has completed a review of the Early Childhood Centre. It is not yet publicly available.

3. An interesting film about the life of an Afghani boy is now showing in Auckland at the Academy Cinema. A review says “…This is a journey into early adulthood in one of the toughest places on earth and a journey that mirrors the vitally important story of Afghanistan.” Follow the Facebook page of the film maker.

4. The REAF Annual Achievement Report was well received.

5. Robyn Gerritty, Director, Early Childhood Centre, received a real surprise  on the 29th February when a very handsome book arrived for her. Sibylle Hass visited the Carol White Family Centre in 2009. She has now produced a book entitled Das Lernen feiern; Lerngeschichten aus Neuseeland. Published by Verlag das netz, Weimar, Berlin. The English title is Learning to Celebrate, Learning stories from New Zealand The Centre features in the book on page 54.

6. The Department of Building and Housing has now translated its new information materials on rental law into ten different languages. The Department’s Advisor for National Pacific Liaison, says the popular languages to date have been Chinese, Korean and Samoan.
“We want to raise awareness and knowledge among landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities so they can transact with confidence in the rental housing market. Having this information available in various languages will help tenants and landlords who do not speak English as their first language understand the law around renting”. For more information visit the web site.


December 2011

1. The annual prize giving was held at REAF on the 7th December. The whole REAF community contributed to the event. The early childhood centre children sang, the adult students also sang. Prizes were awarded and gifts were presented. Former Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan addressed the gathering.

2. Dorothy Brown died in Auckland on the 28th November 2011. She was a notable person who was involved in the foundation of REAF. Her contribution to New Zealand was immense.

3. A new publication from AUT Language and Cultures, Maria Hayward (ed),  “Refugee stories: Former refugees living in New Zealand share stories of their lives and journeys”, 2011. Nine REAF students and staff have contributed their story to this publication. Unfortunately the lack of editing mars some of the impact of these personal stories.


October/November 2011

1. A short REAF history has been added to the “About Us” section.

2. Auckland now has a Charity Hospital. This may be a medical resource for refugee families.

3. The mysteries of Government funding continues.

4. School has returned from a well earned break and this last term is very short. The Tampa article from the Dom Post has been added. Check it out. So much has happened to the people who arrived here ten years ago.


September 2011

1. Hans Everts from the Diversity Trust completed the last of 4 sessions with Mon families. “Protecting Family Happiness” was well received. He gave REAF a generous donation for the Peace Garden.

2. Swimming for ladies, sponsored by Watersafe Auckland has begun using the portable swimming Pool at St Pius School. Eight ladies who have previously not had the opportunity to learn to swim and  learn other aspects of water safety are having a wonderful opportunity.

3. The AGM for the Carol White Family Centre was held on Wednesday 7 September.  It was well attended by parents of the Centre.

4. Robyn Gerrity leaves on Friday 16th to travel to UK as part of her Margaret May Blackwell Travel Fellowship.

5. Tampa 10 years on. Refugee Services have this collection of stories from young peope who were on the Tampa 10 years ago Some stories are published in Australia and some in New Zealand.

6. The Hon Hekia Parata, Minister of Ethnic Affairs, has written to congratulate REAF and Selwyn College on the recent success as one of the winners at the 2011 NZ Diversity Forum.


August 2011

1. Tampa refugees marry. Ali and Zahra were both rescued from the Tampa. They got to know each other at university and married recently. 

2. Helen Clark recalls her decision to bring the Tampa boys to New Zealand. She says it was a good decision on her part.

3. Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 New Zealand Diversity Awards which were announced at the conclusion of the 2011 New Zealand Diversity Forum in Hamilton last night, 22nd August. REAF was one of the winners of this award.

4. Dave Armstrong wonders about “boat people”. He points out that most of our forebears came to New Zealand in a boat of some kind.


July 2011

1. The second term is now at an end. News will recommence in August.

2. Robyn Gerritty, Director of the early childhood centre presented a paper at the TRCC conference on Family Participation in Children’s Education. 150 early childhood teachers from around New Zealand were present. Ideas explored in the paper included what ideas work, what make a difference, the special team, celebrations and engagement of older siblings, the wider school and beyond. 

3. Helen Clark comments on the Government’s recent statements about boat people and refugee asylum seekers.

4. Westpac manager Sanjila Gounder, from the Panmure branch presented two sessions on good banking practices to REAF students. Groups of Burmese/Mon and Afghani students had Koasorn Tun translating for the Burmese/Mon students and Zohra Amiri translating for the Afghani students. Ms Gounder had many useful comments to offer the students. No other bank has offered a presentation of this kind at REAF.

5. Somali students show what can be done by refugees contributing to New Zealand.

6. New Zealand health information is available to non English speakers in ten commonly spoken refugee languages, see more information. “The leaflet details essential information for new refugees about how to use the NZ health system, covering GPs, hospitals, maternity, dental and pharmacies. Quite crucially it also covers emergencies – when and when NOT to dial 111.”
See all the options.

7. Michael Pham sees advantages to being a refugee. “We bring resilience and determination to building a life in New Zealand and succeeding in business, along with lateral thinking and different problem-solving approaches.”


June 2011

1. The executive group from the Remuera Lions Club came to cut the ribbon on the Utilities area and formally declare it open. This new REAF area supports the activities of the garden. Morning tea was held after the opening ceremony. See school newsletter report here.

2. Students have written about new social occasions. Jawle’s Family Day and Cooking for Friendship. Read these contributions.

3. 7th June, Shelley Stevens, a training co-ordinator from Spotless visited Penelope to explain the training courses being run in conjunction with WINZ and Housing NZ. The company’s involvement in the community is admirable. Some of the REAF students may be ready for this next step.

4. The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, visited REAF on June 8th. The garden has had many hours of work put into it preparing for this visit. His visit was reported in the East and Bays Courier, 29th June.

5. The Garden utilities area has been completed and looks fantastic. The glasshouse has seeds and plants being raised, the shed is a wonder of orderliness, the slatted seat holds the bags of soil, fertiliser and compost.

6. World Refugee Day 2011 from Suoran: My family went to the Mangere camp in Otahuhu.  I saw many things.  Many people were dancing and at lunch time we bought lots of different food from the Iranian stall.  Abdul drank coffee from Eritrea.  We ate Burmese food that our friends had made.  We met many friends and had a good day.  Jayne and her son were there taking photos as well as Margaret.  I saw friends that had been in the camp when I was there in 2006.  Many said my family was very big as I have five children. R.M.S.  a social worker and someone from immigration was there that I talked to.  Even though it rained it was a great day. (More information and photos on this page: World Refugee Day)


May 2011

1. The garden shed has arrived and been placed on its destination site . This completes the utilities complex, which will be opened by the Lions Club in the future. The shed has a great storage set of shelves. Margaret has designed a container for the stored bags of soil and compost and it takes the form of a corner bench seat.

2. The Eastern Bays Network meeting was very successful. Several attendees spoken to said they were so grateful to find out about REAF and the work being done for refugee person. Many attendees encounter refugee people in the services they offer to the community. The garden was a much admired feature for the visitors. One person from the MetroWater Trust provided very valuable information about problems with water supply and ways to get help on the issues.

3. Mentoring interviews went very well. The teachers had an opportunity to focus on their students in a different way.

4. Selwyn College REAF is hosting the Eastern Bays Network meeting organised by the Auckland Council. This is where community groups share information about services and up and coming events. The profiled topic on Wednesday will be the programme offered at REAF and the Carol White Family Centre for Refugees in East Auckland. The brief presentation will highlight the similarities and differences between refugees and immigrants, and how the programme and associated childcare addresses some of the issues faced by refugee families.

The presentation by Margaret Chittenden, Director; REAF and Robyn Gerrity; Director; Carol White Family Centre will be followed by a brief tour of the programme in action. 

5. Southern Moon Productions has produced “A Girl From Glen Innes”. This shows a Burmese teenager’s transition from refugee to New Zealand citizen. The DVD now features a bonus update with the Burmese girl, Tinmama, on the day she graduates from Auckland university. The DVD is available for sale from the company. REAF is featured in this production.

6. A recent book written by an Afghani woman in England helps to show the difficulties that refugees and immigrants can encounter in any new country as the culture of the country of origin is transferred.

7. The garden has been dug over and Osmana has planted a variety of winter vegetables. Leeks, spring onions, cabbage and cauliflower plants have all gone in. Broadbeans are next. There is still very healthy kale available in the garden.

8. Robyn Gerritty has shared her thoughts on the value of events and projects in the Early Childhood Centre. 


April 2011

1. Roy Clements presented a policy document to the Purewa Restoration Group. “Purewa Restoration; Planting, Places and Principles“, May 2011. The plan contains policy for future planting and development.

2. Roy met local politician, Carol Beaumont, in the last week of April at Selwyn College behind the ASB Stadium for a tour of the walkways being formed in the valley. Discussion may have included the proposed St John’s railway station.

3. A number of REAF students contributed their time and energy to help Roy Clements in the Selwyn Bush area. Their help made a huge difference to the start of the walking track entrance behind the ASB Stadium, which was re-sculpted and reshaped. Piles of weeds left by the Sunday bush weeders were also gathered up and centralised. The whole area is looking so good. Roy has been applying the weed eater to the slopes and it is all coming together.  

4. The Early Childhood Centre will be providing a step by step guide to making pickled olives. The parents have just stripped the trees outside the centre. The harvest has filled one large jar and several smaller jars with pickled olives. They will be ready for eating next term. Directions and photos of the process will also be available.

5. Refugees and migrants do not find New Zealand the most welcoming place to live. A recent article discusses those difficulties. The children of those same immigrants will be entwined in our future.


March 2011

1. Leadership NZ was hosted by Selwyn College on the 18th March. 40 delegates attended. REAF Director, Margaret ChittendenRobyn Gerrity, the Director of the Carol White Early Chidhood Centre. Three REAF students shared their reality of refugee life with the conference attendees. This was followed by a tour of the REAF premises and a luncheon provided by the Qasimi family done in traditional Afghani style.

2. Bordering in the form of large logs has been added to the young stand of native trees between REAF classrooms. The area has been backfilled with the excavated soil removed from the area being prepared for the garden utility area.  It makes such a difference to this group of trees. Great redeployment of resources.

3. Carol Beaumont, Labour MP for Maungakiekie, visited REAF. She discussed funding issues  for the Centre and the ongoing difficulties encountered with government agencies.  

4. REAF students and those from the Carol White Family Centre have donated to “Cans for Christchurch”.

5. Director Margaret Chittenden addressed the 64th Mon National Day celebrated at the Panmure Community Centre. introduced

6. REAF is part of the Human Rights Commission 2010 ReportRobyn Gerritty, Roy Clements and Margaret Chittenden attended the launch of the report on Friday the 11th March at the Town Hall.

7. At the launch Margaret met with the Mayor. As a result of that meeting Mayor Len Brown has accepted an invitation to visit REAF. This visit will occur on Wednesday 8 June at 9.30 – 10 30.  

 8. Robyn Gerrity from ECC will be speaking at the Educational Leadership Lecture Series 2011.  On ‘Culturally responsive Pedagogy – What Might It Look Like’? Part 1 will focus on the Carol White Centre programme created to recognise and respond to displacement and resettlement issues for refugee families. The families arrived in waves, from far away places of war, but especially the women and small children had no support. No English classes were accessible. Carol White set about finding a way through these stormy waters. At present up to 60 refugee children are enrolled and are connected to the REAF (Refugee English and Resettlement for Families) programme and to secondary education for adolescents within Selwyn College. Venue: tba Date 8th November 2011.


February 2011

1. Recycled bikes project for Refugees – can you help? Make a difference to another person’s transport needs.

2. A deputation was made by Chris McGuirk from Selwyn College and Roy Clements from REAF to the local Orakei board pressing for a small train station in the vicinity of St John’s and Selwyn College for college students.


January 2011

1. From the HRC – Annual review of migration and settlement, Human Rights:    

“Bureaucracy threatens successful refugee education program”

A decision by the Tertiary Education Commission at the end of 2009 to end funding from its Foundation Learning Pool for adult refugee students at Selwyn College in Auckland threatened to scuttle an international best practice model of refugee education which had just celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Refugee Education for Adults and their Families (REAF) programme provides both English language and a range of adult education courses for refugees, along with early childhood education at a purpose built centre for their children to enable them to study. The centre caters for 180 adult students and 80 pre-school children. Adults were provided with transport assistance to attend.

Following the withdrawal of TEC funding, Work and Income decided that students who were previously on Unemployment Benefit and in receipt of Unemployment Benefit Training must either cease their studies or go onto Study Allowance administered by Inland Revenue. This involved complex online application processes and identity document production, statutory declarations, obtaining  IRD numbers for adults and children, the loss of a $1000 study grant, penalties for studying while on the unemployment benefit, Housing Corporation rent reassessment, family support applications to top up the student allowance, ineligibility for transport subsidies, and other administrative hurdles. Some simply failed to meet the complex requirements, and left their courses.

Representations to the Government led to a meeting in July where it was agreed that REAF students should not have been required to transfer to the Student Allowance and should have remained on the Unemployment Benefit. Transport assistance remains an issue.

The REAF programme was founded on the theory that provision of childcare and transport subsidies would remove two of the main barriers to refugee women accessing classes, and also address their social isolation. Since the first classes were held for 35 women in church halls in 2000, the programme has grown significantly, is open to both men and women, and now has a well established home at Selwyn College with classrooms, early childhood centre and a community garden.

From the January HRC newsletter.


December 2010

1. University of Auckland Alumna Robyn Gerrity, director of the Carol White Family Centre in Auckland has won the Margaret May Blackwell Travel Fellowship for 2010. Robyn has 30 years’ experience as an early childhood teacher and has worked extensively with refugee families. The Carol White Children and Family Centre caters for children of students who are enrolled in the Refugee Education for Adults and Families (REAF) programme at Selwyn College.


November 2010

1. Launch of the Auckland Refugee Family Trust. “A new trust has been formed at the initiative of the Auckland Refugee Community Coalition to raise and distribute money so refugee families can be reunited in New Zealand.”

2. REAF students actively contributed to this Weedbusters nomination. They work with Roy Clements from time to time.


August 2009
1. A private Citizenship Ceremony was held in the REAF department of Selwyn College on Wednesday 26 August 2009. It was probably the first time that a Citizenship Ceremony has been held in a school. Mr Qurban Ghulami and Mrs Gulparwar Ghulami, who are students on the Refugee Programme at Selwyn College became New Zealand citizens. Their classmates, teachers and family were present. Margaret Chittenden, HOD REAF, talked about their journey from Afghanistan to New Zealand. Penelope Shadbolt, a teacher on the REAF programme who became a Justice of the Peace at the end of the 2008, officiated at the ceremony. After the ceremony all the adults students on the programme gathered together on the deck to join in singing the National Anthem.