This piece was published on RNZ in September 2015.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said earlier this week that many refugees are unemployed, isolated and unhappy years after arriving in New Zealand.
Natasha Frost spoke to two refugee families – one from South Sudan and one from Myanmar – about the long process of settling in, finding jobs, and learning how to make New Zealand feel like home.
When Abann Yor learned that he and his young family were going to New Zealand in 2000, he cast his mind back to the little he remembered learning about the country in intermediate school.
“I knew that New Zealand was a tiny island behind Australia, it always came up in the exams,” he says. “I remembered four things: first, it’s a green country; two languages – Maori language and English; third that New Zealand’s population is four million; and that the number of sheep is more than the population. And I thought, ‘Wow’.
“My wife said, ‘Do you know anything about New Zealand?’ And I said, ‘Any country where I’ll be safe, I need to go.'”
The rest of the piece is available here.