On 30 May 2022 we were privileged to be joined by Golriz Ghahraman and Mustafa Derbashi for a kōrero about refugee resettlement in New Zealand. As an audience, we listened to Golriz and Mustafa share aspects of their own personal journey to New Zealand and reflected together as we discussed the seemingly insurmountable obstacles faced by refugees and asylum seekers, the shortfalls of New Zealand's response, and how we can each do more to better support the newest members of our community.
Golriz Ghahraman is an Iranian-Kiwi refugee and now Green Party MP, having arrived in Aotearoa as a child asylum seeker with her family from Iran. In New Zealand, she has successfully advocated on human rights issues before the Supreme Court. Before entering parliament as list MP for the Green Party, Golriz was active in the NGO community, volunteering her skills to advance justice reform, refugee and migrant rights, and for family carers of disabled persons.
Mustafa Derbashi has been an active part of helping Middle Eastern and Muslim migrants and refugees integrate into New Zealand life. He is currently a member of Kāpuia - the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques. In 2021, Mustafa was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to migrant and refugee communities. Having spent the first 25 years of his life in a refugee camp, he offered profound insight into what more New Zealand can do for refugees in our community.
We were guided in our discussion by Sarah MacDonald, who offered insight into the important mahi of supporting refugee and asylum seekers' mental health as they settle into New Zealand.
Our kōrero was followed by the screening of 'Amadai'. As their worlds fall apart, an unlikely connection occurs between a Rwandan refugee living in New Zealand and his mentally unstable neighbour. Amadi was born out of writer/director Zia Mandviwalla’s experiences working as a volunteer for Refugee Services in New Zealand: assisting newly arrived refugees adjust to life in an unfamiliar country. Though New Zealand has one of the most comprehensive resettlement programs in the world, the process of adjustment remains a challenging and lonely one.
We discussed the importance of keeping the conversation going by engaging, learning, and sharing our knowledge with our whanau and community and offering our time, resources or skills at various organisations to support refugee communities within Aotearoa.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini" - Success is not the work of an individual but the work of many (as shared by Mustafa Derbashi)"