Bridging Barriers: Study of Refugee Integration in New Zealand Communities
New Zealand is one of the 26 nations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who participate in a regular refugee resettlement program (“New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme”). It is also one of the few countries to have a refugee orientation program upon arrival and dedicates a centre especially to host the incoming refugees. The current refugee quota system in New Zealand provides a 6 week orientation and assessment period followed by dispersal into 6 different cities across New Zealand for permanent resettlement. Refugees develop friendships and a sense of comfort over the 6 weeks program with all the facilities available at the Resettlement centre. The transition from the centre into the independent housing in suburban locations therefore becomes more challenging due to the lack of induction of refugees into their host communities. Refugees are alienated in their new communities with the locals equally as oblivious to the new settlers. As a result, post settlement engagement with the host society becomes difficult for refugees. The community relations between the refugees and host society is neglected with refugees generally connecting with the same ethnic group (ii, Gray); limiting cross-cultural connections. This research investigates the role of architecture as a facilitator of social interaction between the refugees and local community to create a strong sense of belonging in the host society. The aim is to explore architectural solutions which can ease the process of resettlement for refugees into the different regions around New Zealand. It seeks to develop a design which offers social engagement that can extend into the society and cross-cultural interaction can be encouraged.