Migrants learn the day-to-day topics of New Zealand life

Manurewa Citizens Advice Bureau manager Josie King enjoys seeing new migrants helped by the bureau growing as they learn ...
Chris Harrowell

Manurewa Citizens Advice Bureau manager Josie King enjoys seeing new migrants helped by the bureau growing as they learn new skills and knowledge.

Imagine arriving in a country to start a new life and not knowing how to speak the language.

Such is the daunting prospect faced by many of the people helped by the Manurewa Citizens Advice Bureau migrant connect team.

The team's volunteers run workshops every two months to help new Kiwis grapple with topics such as education and employment, health and community safety, consumer rights, and finance and taxation.

The Manurewa bureau is one of 30 contracted by Immigration NZ to provide the service across the country and one of just seven in Auckland.

Co-ordinator Patricia Pera and assistant Armmajit Kaur are among the team's six dedicated volunteers.

Pera says they're seeing an increase in demand for the service locally from both men and women from India, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Middle East and South America.

"When they come in their shoulders are down," she says.

"Once they've had a cup of tea and a light lunch [after the workshop] we have to push them out the door.

"They don't want to go. They want to learn more."

It's also enjoyable to help them to learn new skills and go on to employment or education and training, Pera says.

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"We've had 15 of 25 workshops participants who when they walked in didn't know how to do a CV or be prepared for an interview.

"We have had people do the workshops who have gone on to volunteer."

Kaur, who's from Singapore and speaks multiple languages, says understanding the Kiwi accent is the hardest thing for many of the migrants the team works with.

Some, especially those who come from India, are under pressure to succeed, she says.

"Their parents sell assets and the students are willing to stay in a house with 10 people because they want to work hard and send money back to their parents."

The workshops are conducted mainly in English but participants are allowed to talk to each other in the language they want.

Pera says she tries to keep in mind the sorts of challenges faced by the people she and her colleagues are working with.

"How would I learn where the police station is or where the dairy is to go and buy some milk?"

Bureau manager Josie King says many of the people who deliver the workshops are employed by Government agencies or community organisations and some are former migrants themselves.

 - Stuff

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