‘Welcoming refugees woven into NZ’s national identity’


Leadership Network member Laura MacKay says welcoming refugees could become a value “woven so deep into the fabric of our national identity”  that it becomes a stance that defines New Zealand as much as becoming nuclear free did in the 80s. Laura attended the Leadership Network’s recent refugee hui in Auckland.

One story told at the begining of the hui was about a man on the plane from Wellington to Auckland who, on finding out about the subject of the hui, made a comment along the lines of “send them back where they came from.”

Blood-boiling as this may be, in a peculiar twist this aeroplane stranger unexpectedly and, probably to his chagrin, provided me with a purpose for the weekend. How do we engage with this view? How do we provide an alternative narrative on refugees to the one that saturates our media daily, laced with “looking after our own first”, “culture-clash,” and the ever present dash of “terrorism.”

Changing the perspective of the aeroplane stranger became the focus of the hui for me, and a thread that wound its way through every session of the weekend.

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Courtesy Asia New Zealand Foundation

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