Communities programme
L-R Front Row: Welcoming Communities Officer Deborah Beange, Advisory Group Members Vicky Bowman, Kirti Naicker, Sierra Alef-Defoe, Sally Feinerman, Zuleyha Bingul, Heather Harries, Pam Jones. L-R Back Row: Sharon Smid, Glen Christiansen. Not pictured: Jackie van der Voort

Mayor Tim Cadogan and Chief Executive Sanchia Jacobs affirmed Central Otago District Council’s support for the Welcoming Communities programme by signing a Statement of Commitment at a ceremony held in Alexandra on Monday morning.

The Council committed to partnering with the community and Immigration New Zealand to build and maintain a welcoming environment for newcomers. The council recognises that proactively fostering an inclusive community where everyone can belong, and participate creates social, economic, civic and cultural benefits for our community.

The programme will be guided by the newly created Welcoming Communities Advisory Group, who were introduced at the ceremony. These passionate volunteers will work throughout the district to build a programme that addresses the unique needs of Central Otago.

Speaking at the ceremony Mayor Cadogan welcomed the advisory board members and thanked them for taking on a role that was “very special for our community”.

“As Martin Luther King said back in the 1960s – we all came here on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now. This is really important and I’m really proud to be signing this today on behalf of the community of Central Otago. The people of Central Otago and of Aotearoa New Zealand – we’ve all come here. We were all immigrants at some stage or other.”

As part of the morning’s ceremony the group joined in harmony to sing Pepeha by Six60, a bilingual song written to unite cultures.

Welcoming Communities Office Deborah Beange said the song “captures perfectly what Welcoming Communities is all about, which is to help newcomers, both international and Kiwi, to fell connected to our community and feel like we belong”.