Rev Kay Webster provided an update to Synod on the work to continually support former refugees as they come into the Wellington region. She noted that there had been innovative methods used in some parishes to cast the net wider and invite more people to be involved. In her parish of Wadestown, she had developed a relationship with the local primary school, inviting them and their parents to contribute to the collection of household goods. The Parish of Newlands-Paparangi has been using the Neighbourly social media platform effectively to gather goods from their community, and at a broader scale, the Diocesan Social Justice Enabler, Archdeacon Stephen King, spoke of the work with Changemakers Refugee Forum to find areas in which the diocese can help. As a result, St David’s Naenae was able to offer space for a refugee drop-in centre in the Hutt, which reduced the cost for families living in the Hutt Valley who would otherwise have to travel into central Wellington in order to seek support.
Stephen spoke of the recently announced community sponsorship programme, in which organisations like churches will be able to host and support former refugees as they settle in New Zealand. Despite it being only a trial, Stephen spoke of the diocese’s disappointment at the lack of ability for the diocese to choose who it would like to support, and instead, the requirement that churches simply accept who is brought into the country. Those who come into the country on this scheme are required to meet strict economic conditions, so that they can be employed more readily. The criticism of this scheme is that it appears to use the church in order to foster the Government’s economic imperatives. Both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches have lodged complaints over the lack of consultation, with Stephen summarising that “we were excited, but it’s not what we wanted.”