There are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide and 25.4 million refugees.*
There are 1000 refugees who are resettled in New Zealand each year.
Newly arrived refugees are accommodated at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC) for a six-week orientation to prepare them for life in a new country. ARPHS provides a Refugee Health Screening Service (RHSS) at the centre where we identify and treat personal health conditions that may adversely affect a person’s resettlement.
*Figures at a glance (UNHCR)
Many refugees come from environments with limited health care and may not have had access to health services for a long time. ARPHS is funded by the Ministry of Health to provide the services of health screening for refugees and asylum seekers through the Refugee Health Screening Service.
Purpose of assessment
Screening also helps identify trends in health conditions that may have a broader impact on population health.
RHSS provides each person with information about the New Zealand health system, medical records and assist with transfer to primary care in the area of settlement.
RHSS consists of a multi-disciplinary team of: administrators, a paediatric nurse specialist, nurses, doctors, a programme supervisor, a health care assistant, and dental team.
New Zealand’s refugee resettlement programme started officially after the Second World War. In 1979 it was rationalised when all refugees arriving in New Zealand went to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre in Auckland. The Mangere Centre was initially a base built for American Soldiers in 1942 and later became, among other things, a workers’ hostel and an immigration hostel. MRRC was rebuilt in 2016 and the old buildings demolished.
The origin of the refugees has varied according to the conflicts in the world, so in 1979, they came from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. At that time also, virtually all refugees came from refugee camps, and their health needs mostly related to infectious and deficiency diseases. Now more come from subsidized private accommodation, so whilst there may be less infectious disease, some are also affected more by non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
New Zealand is unique in offering a one-stop service at the Mangere centre, which is managed by Immigration New Zealand.
As well as ARPHS’ refugee health screening service, there is also:
Refugees are settled in seven centres throughout New Zealand after completing the orientation - Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.
Refugee health fits within the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy, which is a whole-of-government approach to delivering improved refugee resettlement outcomes. The aim is to help refugees find work, and improve their health and education outcomes.
People who fear returning to their own country can ask New Zealand to recognise them as refugees or protected persons. People who lodge a claim for refugee or protection status in New Zealand are known as asylum seekers, and if the claim is accepted they are known as convention refugees (Information for asylum seekers, Immigration New Zealand)
Asylum seekers may be living in the community or at the Mangere centre. All asylum seekers are offered health screening, which is optional.
Asylum seekers living at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre are given a preliminary review on arrival and a screening appointment is scheduled, usually within two weeks of arriving. Any problems found are managed, either by the clinic or by referral to other services. After this period, the asylum seeker may be referred to local primary health care facilities.
Asylum seekers living in the community come to the Mangere centre for a scheduled screening appointment. Any problems are managed, either by the clinic or by referral to other services. Community-based asylum seekers are informed of how to enrol with a primary care service.
Information in other languages
If you’re looking for a different fact sheet in another language, please contact us at Refugee@adhb.govt.nz.
NZ national and regional websites
NZ refugee and migrant specific
NZ health specific
International refugee sites