A pōwhiri, high tea and entertainment provided by local cultural groups have marked the launch of the Southland Welcoming Communities Programme.
Following involvement in Immigration New Zealand’s Welcoming Communities pilot, the Southland Murihiku Welcoming Plan was launched on Wednesday 18 September.
The launch was organised by Great South who has been coordinating the programme since its inception in 2017, alongside the local advisory group made up of representatives from local councils.
Great South Chief Executive Ann Lockhart said with the launch of the plan, Southland is now a forerunner of the welcoming movement that is operating across the world.
“We are positioning Southland as a place where newcomers will be enthusiastically welcomed, included and encouraged to become part of the community,”
Along with the pōwhiri, formal speeches were held in the wharenui by Ms Lockhart, Invercargill City Council Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, Gore District Council Mayor Tracy Hicks, and Southland District Council Deputy Mayor, Paul Duffy.
Great South Chief Executive Ann Lockhart speaking at the Welcoming Communities launch
All three emphasised the importance of people - the very premise of the Welcoming Communities pilot programme and the main focus of the Southland Murihiku Welcoming Plan.
Ms Lockhart said that with over 60 actions identified in the Plan, the region was outlining its commitment to people by embracing a culturally rich environment and helping to make Southland the best place to live, work and play.
Work is now underway to implement the actions in the plan, with the region striving to encourage successful engagement between newcomers and the communities in which they settle.