Newcomers to Palmerston North discover the history of Te Marae o Hine/The Square.
Palmerston North and Rangitāne welcomed around 80 new arrivals to the city during the first powhiri of the post-Covid-19 restrictions era in Te Manawa this weekend.
They came from Afghanistan, Karen and Rohinga communities, Scotland and New Zealand, and included refugees, international students and people moving to find jobs.
Kevin Morris of the Red Cross, who had helped relocate many of the participants, said the group reflected the range of people who had moved to Palmerston North over the past year.
“We couldn’t make this welcome earlier, and it’s quite special to be able to do that.
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“It’s been such a wonderful experience, and the board and Rangitāne really stepped up the game. He really hit the mark.”
Rangitāne’s Chris Whaiapu led the powhiri, and Mayor Grant Smith hosted the group in Papaiōea on behalf of the city council.
Smith said that although Palmerston North may be small by international standards, it was remarkably cosmopolitan, diverse and accommodating.
“No matter where you come from, your global and cultural diversity is already reflected in the makeup of our multicultural and multiethnic international city.”
The city was home to over 130 nationalities, so most newcomers would find residents who spoke their language and could put them at ease as they got to know the wider community.
“We really look forward to getting to know you better.”
After the powhiri and kai, City Council Community Development Officer Steph Velvin and Nuwyne Te Awe Awe led a walking tour down George Street, past the City Library and around Te Marae o Hine/The Square.
They explained aspects of the bicultural foundations of the central city, tactfully leading newcomers around a freedom of mandate protest group in front of the Te Awe Awe statue.
They took the long way from the Nga Huruhuru Rangatira Huia-inspired sculpture, “the feathers of the chief”, to the marae and pou at the gates of the civic administration building.
One of the walk participants, John Adams, said he really appreciated the welcome.
He had arrived from Glasgow in June to take up an engineering post with Downers.