The Issue

The world is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, when the legal framework for recognising people as refugees was established. More than 60 million are displaced with 20 million of those as refugees, that is, they are displaced and outside their country of origin.

Over the next three years New Zealand will offer an additional 750 places for Syrians. In 2016 we’ve offered just 250 places. Over the same period Australia is offering 12,000 - that’s 9.6 times as many places. Canada have offered 50,000 places: when adjusted for their larger population they’re doing 25 times as much as us for Syrians fleeing their civil war.

But while the need for more places for the most vulnerable of refugees grows, our country's contribution has barely grown in 30 years.

Three key facts about our flat refugee quota

(1) Our refugee quota has not grown in 29 years. The recent announcement to take it to 1000 by 2018 is nowhere near enough.

(2) Australia currently accepts more than three times as many refugees per capita as New Zealand. Our tiny quota increase wont change this as the Australians are growing their quota by 5000 places in the next two years.

(3) All refugees who arrive under the quota system are vetted by the United Nations, Immigration New Zealand and the Five Eyes countries. It is a much more rigorous process than other visa categories.


NZ’s refugee quota has not grown since 1987.

Our population has grown by 42% since then. Globally, refugees wait an average of 17 years before being resettled via the quota system.

Yes, that’s right: it has not grown since 1987.

Australia currently accepts 13,500 people through their quota and that will grow to 18,750 by 2018. Opposition parties there want to make it 27,000.

Australia currently takes more than three times as many quota refugees and asylum seekers as New Zealand per capita and that will increase to four times more if our quota does not grow.

But that’s not all...
Refugees can also get into the country as asylum seekers. That is when people make a claim for protection while they’re already in New Zealand. On average, we accept only a third of all claims. But, since 2001, the  New Zealand government has worked with other governments to make it harder for asylum seekers to lay a claim. That has led to a 75% decrease (a decrease of 373 people per year) in the number of asylum seekers that we accept as refugees.

Not only has our quota stayed low, but the annual total number of accepted refugees has actually decreased since 2000. This needs to be set right, by doubling the quota.


Doubling the quota will not make New Zealand a world leader in hosting, recognising or resettling refugees.

Will we be doing our bit? Well, no, not really. If the quota is doubled by 2019 we’ll still be doing half as much, per capita, as Australia. But it’s better than doing only a quarter as much as them. 
New Zealand needs to at least double the quota at the forthcoming review.

That’s our target: we need to achieve that, implement the changes well and then move from there.

That’s the situation

While the world experiences its worst refugee crisis in decades, the New Zealand government sticks to a tiny refugee quota that no humanitarian nation could defend. Our tiny quota is a national shame.

Doubling the quota is a sensible, moderate increase that would allow for implementation with few problems, if properly resourced. That’s why we also need the funding for our refugee service providers doubled.

And finally, we’d like every quota review to take into consideration population growth since the last increase. We really don’t want to have to do this campaign again every decade.