Christchuch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she would have "zero tolerance" of poor treatment of migrant workers.
Dalziel expresssed support for migrants at the opening of a new Filipino support service yesterday.
The Christchurch Migrants Centre has created the Philippine Community Settlement Services (PCSS) to cater for newcomers coming from the Philippines.
Immigration New Zealand figures show that between 2011 and last month, 5088 work visas were approved for people from the Philippines to work in Canterbury. Filipino men and women work mainly in dairy farms, construction, or as caregivers.
The PCSS will provide a one-stop shop for assistance, information and support.
"It's one thing for a receiving community to provide social services to new migrants. It is another thing for a settled migrant community to provide that support themselves," Dalziel said.
She said the city would not tolerate exploitation of migrants.
"We, as a city, will have zero tolerance to discrimination in workforce practices. We won't be afraid . . . to speak out because we know that the poor treatment of workers is not the way for a contractor to gain competitive advantage against other companies.
"Sometimes when people travel abroad to work, they are not aware of their rights and obligations." Even when they were, they sometimes feared the consequences if they insisted on them, she said.