In a strong demonstration of support for refugee communities, our Ethnic Communities Development Fund (ECDF) has been funding initiatives to empower and integrate refugees across New Zealand. These efforts aim to create inclusive, resilient communities where individuals can thrive and contribute positively to society.

In honour of World Refugee Day on June 20, we are highlighting some key projects benefiting from ECDF’s support.

Our Chief Executive, Mervin Singham, underlined “These projects exemplify the Ministry's commitment to nurturing an inclusive and supportive environment for all.

“By investing in initiatives that empower refugee communities, we are not only aiding their integration but also enriching the cultural, economic and social fabric of New Zealand.

“Our goal is to unlock the potential of these individuals, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to our society.”

Strengthening Resettlement Communities Beyond Borders

The New Zealand National Refugee Association Incorporated recently received $15,000 from the ECDF for their “Strengthening Resettlement Communities Beyond Borders” project.

This initiative aims to enhance community support networks and empower refugee-background communities across Aotearoa.

With 18 workshops on cultural empowerment, capacity building, and strategic partnerships, the project will be delivered in regions like Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, benefiting 4,500 people and fostering a sense of unity and belonging among resettled communities.

Ahmed Tani, Chairperson of the New Zealand National Refugee Association (NZNRA), stated "This project is more than an initiative; it is a testament to our dedication to creating a more inclusive, interconnected, and empowered Aotearoa. By fostering community and providing necessary support, we can help individuals and families thrive and contribute positively to New Zealand society."

  • The project's parenting workshop
  • The project's elderly workshop
  • The project's community cooking class

Empowering Refugee Youth in Smaller Regions

The New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council Incorporated was awarded $25,000 last November for the “Empowering Refugee Youth in Smaller Regions” project.

This initiative addresses employment barriers, educational gaps, and mental health challenges faced by refugee youth through workshops, internships, and peer support groups.

Targeting youths aged 12 to 27, the project is delivered in towns like Hamilton, Levin, and Nelson, equipping participants with the skills to seek better opportunities.

Participant Feedback

We received fantastic feedback from the youth participated in this project’s activities. Below are some examples.

“The summer camp was an incredible experience. It boosted my confidence and helped me embrace my uniqueness.”

“The support from ECDF has been invaluable. Through the Refugee Youth Council, we've been able to stay connected to our cultural roots and engage with other young people who share similar experiences.”

“Thanks to the Refugee Youth Council and ECDF, we feel more connected and supported. The programs have empowered us, making us more resilient and giving us a true sense of belonging in our new cities.”

“The Refugee Youth Council has supported me, helped me, and rescued me. It changed my life and the lives of my friends by giving us a safe place where we can be ourselves without fear of being judged. It has marked my life in a profound and positive way. Thank you for everything you have done for us.”

“As a youth leader, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring younger refugee youth. It’s incredibly rewarding to see them grow in confidence and skills, knowing that I’m helping them navigate the challenges of resettlement.”

  • The project's activities
  • Summer camp

Positive Parenting Programme

The Refugee as Survivors New Zealand Trust received $10,000 in August to deliver the “Positive Parenting Programme” to refugee-background parents.

This programme aims to develop parents' knowledge, skills, and confidence, helping them navigate different parenting expectations in New Zealand society.

Refugee Orientation Centre’s Drive-Free Project

The Refugee Orientation Centre Trust was awarded $20,000 in October 2022 for the “Drive-Free” project. This initiative provided 50 former refugees with driving lessons and support to obtain their licenses, aiming to enhance their independence and self-esteem.


These projects underscore our commitment to supporting refugee communities through empowerment, education, and integration. Refugees bring diverse backgrounds and fresh perspectives, and we need to unlock their potential to help them become an integral part of New Zealand society, where they can contribute and thrive.

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