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Local government in action

The model

The partnership between Auckland City, Manukau City and others to create the ‘one-stop-shop’ Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Service is a case study in the variety of roles and actions territorial local authorities can take to address local issues.

The factors that stimulated this initiative were:

  • the willingness of local government to play a facilitation and leadership role
  • a community groundswell of opinion (forums, networks communities of interest, service providers)
  • significant changes in the demographic make-up of the Auckland Region
    research findings on community needs
  • central government’s increased commitment to planned settlement policies.

This project demonstrates how a partnership can make a difference. It also shows the roles and steps that can be taken to develop new operations and services for people with a diverse range of needs and interests.
By the late 1990s it was clear that immigration had changed the face of Auckland. National and local leaders asked what this meant, and what their response might be.

The catalysts for the Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Service partnership were:

  • the impact of 1990s immigration policy was becoming evident on the ground in grass roots communities and community organisations,
  • service providers and advocates
  • a significant groundswell of opinion had arisen about the unmet needs of new ethnic communities
  • city councils were beginning to hear about the needs and issues
  • New Zealand’s Minister for Immigration had pilot funding for settlement initiatives aimed at improving settlement outcomes for new migrants, particularly to foster employment
  • Auckland region was seen as a geographic area attracting a large percentage of new migrants for lifestyle reasons, education opportunities, employment and business development
  • city councils in the Auckland region actively explored migrant needs through community and business forums, networking, research, and community activities.

Manukau and Auckland cities took up the offer of working in partnership with the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) to run a pilot project around establishing settlement services for the region. A steering team was formed to guide the process, made up of representatives from:

  • Manukau and Auckland city councils
  • central government’s NZIS and Office of Ethnic Affairs
  • Auckland Regional Ethnic Council
  • a range of community service providers.

Consultants were contracted to reconfirm the needs across the region and to recommend a service delivery model.

The model

A one-stop-shop approach was confirmed as the appropriate mechanism for delivery with a regional service centre in the centre of Auckland region, at Three Kings, and satellite service centres in other cities across the region, Manukau City being the first.

Establishment was planned and further funding sought.

The partnership was extended, to include Housing New Zealand Corporation, which assisted in leasing a building and funding the retrofit. The governance structure was planned as a charitable trust.
The Auckland Regional Migrant Services Trust community organisation was established to run services, including:

  • a multilingual information centre run by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
  • employment brokerage (sponsored by Work and Income)
  • pathways to English as a Second Language (sponsored by the Ministry of Education)
  • service coordination
  • case management
  • capacity building
  • best practice and standards.


As they looked back after building their partnership, officers felt they had learnt useful lessons. These included:

  • settlement services should be holistic and seamless, meeting social, cultural and economic needs
  • settlement services are needed irrespective of migrants’ immigration category, e.g. general skills, business, family reunification, or refugee or Pacific quotas
  • there is a settlement aspect in practically every government agency. More central govern-ment agencies, such as the Ministry of Social Development, Early Childhood Development, the Ministry of Education, Land Transport Safety Authority (for traffic accidents) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (for watersafety) were identified as needing to develop strategies and partner projects such as regional migrant resource services
  • the importance of all agencies, central and local, working in a co-ordinated way to build a national strategy through all phases of the settlement process
  • territorial local authorities can take a facilitative and leadership role
    the partnership approach presents opportunities for cities to work together collaboratively and with the community
  • partnership between local and central government allows national funding to be united with local approaches
  • territorial local authorities can plan and set up self governing structures – leaving others to implement
  • leadership roles played by key politicians and officials across the sector are catalysts for generating trust, attracting funding and fostering cross sector relationships
  • pilots may not fulfil all expectations and can cut through existing community processes, but are very useful resources when developing service initiatives
  • central and local government budgeting and planning processes can sometimes cause issues for community organisations in their ability to plan forward
  • pilot planning can establish the extent of the need, so funding for pilots is very important
  • as Treaty partners, Tangata Whenua expect leading roles in welcoming and helping people to settle and to understand the Treaty of Waitangi.

People initially involved want to expand the circle of participants – and to build trust further between officials and ethnic communities.
The final word goes to the Minister for Immigration Lianne Dalziel who said, when opening the Auckland Regional Migrant Services centre: "This centre represents the very best of collaboration between central government, local government and the community sector and will ensure the best advice and support is given to migrants.

By Anthony Haas after interviews with officials from Auckland and Manukau cities and other migrant specialists.

Find out more!

Manukau City, Raewyn Stone, Planner – Diverse Communities
Tel 09 262 8900 Ext. 8787
Auckland City, Teena Abbey, Community Planner, Tel 09 379 2020
Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Services, Penny Jorgenson,Tel 09 625 2440




Photo shows dignatories at the ribbon cutting function.

Phil Goff, local MP (Mt Roskill) and Minister of Foreign Affairs watches as Sir Barry Curtis (back to camera) mayor of Manukau, Lianne Dalziel, Minister of Immigration, and John Banks, mayor of Auckland, cut the ribbon declaring the Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Service open for business.


Photo shows Sir Barry Curtis with young pacific island children.

Leadership on meeting diverse needs – Manukau City’s Mayor, Sir Barry Curtis, at the opening of the Tupu Youth Library in Otara.