Supporting migrant and refugee health in Canterbury

Smiling mother and child of African descent.Canterbury is home to a growing number of people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Everyone who makes the decision to start life in a new country faces challenges. There are many providers available to support and help refugees and migrants when they arrive in Christchurch.

People from refugee backgrounds, migrants and their families coming to New Zealand face a range of health challenges. These can include physical, mental and social challenges.

Help is readily available from various providers including interpreting services when necessary.

Translation guidance: Unlocking Language Barriers

Ministry for Ethnic Communities | Te Tari Mātāwaka media release; 19th July 2023

The Ministry for Ethnic Communities have produced guidance that provides practical advice and information to support government agencies and other organisations in New Zealand to better communicate with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

This guidance will equip you with valuable insights and practical tips to ensure smooth and effective translation processes and ensure New Zealand’s diverse communities have equitable access to information. It can be used to help your organisation:

  • understand the importance of translation;
  • enhance communication strategies;
  • bridge language barriers; and
  • connect and expand reach into diverse communities.

Our population has become and continues to develop into one with incredible diversity. Approximately 20% of Aotearoa’s population identifies as coming from an ethnic community (Asian, Continental European, Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African), 17% identify as Māori, and 8% identify as Pacific. It is estimated these populations will grow to 25% for ethnic communities, 19% for Māori and 10% for Pacific respectively by 2033, when compared to the total population.

Wellbeing guides in migrant languages

Yellow Brick Road have published a series of downloadable wellbeing guides in English, Chinese, Samoan, Hindi and Tagalog. The resources cover a range of topics and will help you learn how to manage anxiety, boost your mental health and lower your stress levels.

Yellow Brick Road provides services for families of people experiencing mental illness and was previously known as Supporting Families in Mental Illness.

Working closely with local migrant groups and organisations

Community and Public Health works with local migrant and refugee groups alongside organisations and health services to protect the health of the community.

Staff attend community meetings including:

  • Community Languages and Information Network Group (CLING).
  • Interagency Network For Refugees and Migrants (INFoRM); and
  • Health and Wellbeing Network (a subgroup of INFoRM).

Community and Public Health also networks with local organisations on refugee and migrant issues including:

  • Pegasus Health;
  • Christchurch Resettlement Services (CRS);
  • Canterbury Refugee Council;
  • Hagley Community College;
  • Red Cross;
  • Christchurch City Council; and
  • Health and Disability Advocacy Service (part of the Health and Disability Commission).

Learn to ride with Bike Bridge

Bike Bridge is a free programme for former refugee and migrant women to learn to ride a bicycle – based at Addington School | Te Kura Taumatua.

The sessions are fun and you can also meet new people. Children welcome!

Bikes and helmets provided. No special clothes are required to participate.

This next programme begins on Wednesday 4th October 2023.

Participants will also have the opportunity to get a free or heavily discounted bicycle – as well as a lock and helmet – at the end of the programme.

The project welcomes female volunteers.

Contact Coordinator Lois Hill for more information (bikebridge[at]

Bike Bridge is supported by Community and Public Health.

Free health screening and first doctor’s visit

Bhutanese Family sitting together.

All refugees are entitled to a free health screening check for each family member. This includes asylum seekers applicants, Family reunification migrants and New Zealand quota system refugees.

Community and Public Health facilitates free health screening services for Family reunification migrants and asylum seekers applicants in Canterbury only. Staff will organise a GP practice and free first doctor’s visit for each family member with a Community Services Card. Interpreters will be provided where needed.

Contact the Community and Public Health Communicable Disease Nurse on 03 364 1777 to find out what services are available or to organise a doctor’s visit.

Pegasus Health facilitates a GP practice and free healthcare for quota refugees in Canterbury who have a Community Services Card and have been in New Zealand for less than 5 years.

Contact the Pegasus Refugee Nurse for more information ([at]



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For infectious disease enquiries, contact:

Communicable Disease Nurse
Ph: +64 3 364 1777

For additional information, contact:

New Zealand Newcomers Network.

Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre
Ph: +64 3 377 2538

Christchurch Resettlement Services
Ph: +64 3 335 0311

Citizens Advice Bureau – Migrant Connect and Language Connect
Ph: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)

Four minutes to form a connection

InCommon has launched a new online quiz to help highlight the many things we all have in common.

InCommon is on a mission to explore the many similarities there are across communities – no matter the faith or ethnicity.

Team member Lana Hart says the short quiz aims to get people thinking about the things that make us unique and the similarities that bind us together.

“The quiz is a fun way for people to learn more about themselves and those around them.”

The quiz takes just four minutes to complete, and respondents answer questions like ‘do you like to dance?’ and ‘do you have friends who were born in a different country to you?’. They can then compare their results with others and they may be surprised by what they find.

The questions are designed to entertain but also make people think about forming new connections.

The quiz is just one of the ways the campaign is helping to give people a little encouragement to start a conversation with a stranger or someone who seems different to them.

“Campaign research said that little things we do – a smile, a small chat as we wait in a queue, a friendly greeting – can make a big difference to making everyone feel welcomed and safe,” Lana says.

InCommon: Love to boogie.

The Newcomers Guide to Christchurch and Canterbury

This Facebook page is for recent arrivals to the Canterbury region.

It’s designed to share what’s happening, provide key information on living here, and act as a place for those new to Canterbury to connect and share ideas.

Contact Christina Lewis for more information (03 378 6823).

Newcomers Guide to Christchurch and Canterbury Logo.

Page last updated: 10/11/2023

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