Refugees (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about refugees coming to and living in New Zealand?

Entry last updated: 27/05/22


Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their homeland because of war or persecution. Many countries, including New Zealand, have a refugee quota — which is a certain number of refugees they accept each year. New Zealand has a strong history of accepting refugees, and this has continued as the trouble spots around the world have increased.

Early refugees

New Zealand has been accepting refugees for a long time. Some of the earliest refugees arrived in New Zealand in the 1800s.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This website from the Ministry for Culture & Heritage is the best place to begin a search for general and historical information relating to New Zealand.

  • Use the search bar to enter the search words 'refugees'.

  • Look at the story about Refugees to find out about the history of refugees coming to New Zealand.

  • Explore the different pages to find the story about the first groups of refugees to arrive in the late 1800s, followed by the Polish in the 1940s and the Chinese in the 1960s.

  • You can also read about the early days of the quota system.

Tips: Some Te Ara links take you to a Story summary. This is a shorter version of the story. Remember to select the full stories if you want more in-depth information. You can also look at the ‘All images and media’ link for pictures and photos related to your story.


This is another great website for historical information about New Zealand.

  • Select Topics, choose the A-Z option and select R to find the page on Refugees.

  • You could also use your keyword 'refugees' to search the website.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address — they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Recent refugees

There are many people in the world facing war or other difficulties and have to leave their homes. These refugees often try to seek asylum or protection in other countries. Some find a home here in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand

This website is from the New Zealand government organisation that works with people who want to come and settle in New Zealand.

Red Cross New Zealand

Red Cross agencies around the world work with refugees, including those here in New Zealand.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About Us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Australia New Zealand Reference Centre

This database is from EPIC, is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It is put together, especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this. You may need a password from your school or local library to access it.

This resource has lots of New Zealand magazine, journal and newspaper articles.

  • Search for 'Refugees New Zealand' to bring up a lot of results.

  • You can refine your results by using the links on the left of the page, like changing the publication date or limiting your search to newspaper articles.

Tips: To get to the EPIC databases you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or, you can log on to AnyQuestions between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday, and one of the librarians can help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Literacy Online

This site comes from the Ministry of Education and has articles from the School Journal.

  • Search for 'refugees'.

  • Go to My name is Rez to find out about a Kurdish refugee.

  • Go to New New Zealanders to find out about a Middle Eastern refugee family.

  • To read the stories select the Text icon to download a PDF file.

Refugee quota

New Zealand's refugee quota controls the number of refugees that are allowed to come and settle here.

Immigration New Zealand

This government department looks after the rules and laws relating to people coming to live in New Zealand which includes refugees and asylum seekers.

  • Use the search bar at the top of the page to enter the search words 'refugee quota programme'.

  • The New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme has lots of information about the quota programme and why it was set up.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg refugee quota programme. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.


This is a great website for finding out about news and current events in New Zealand. There has been a lot of discussion about New Zealand's refugee quota and that it should be increased.

  • Search for refugee quota to find articles, opinions and press releases about it.

Tips: You could also try searching news websites like the NZ Herald, Stuff, Newshub, and 1News to find stories about our refugee quota and of refugees coming to New Zealand.

This website shows New Zealand statistics on all sorts of different topics. It was created to make it easier to see the data from different government and educational organisations, as well as businesses.

Tips: Some websites have .au, .nz, .uk or other codes in their url. This can tell you which country this website comes from eg .au is from Australia or .nz is from New Zealand. You can check the About Us link on the website for more information.


You may also like to visit your school or public library and check out the print collection there. Over time there have been many books published telling the stories of people coming to this country.

A few recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1832825

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