Doing our bit for refugees

Murdoch Stephens on the ‘Doing Our Bit’ campaign trail in Wellington.

After seeing first-hand what the Syrian civil war was doing to its people, Murdoch Stephens returned from Aleppo expecting to find New Zealand a world leader in extending a helping hand to refugees.

He was shocked to find that wasn’t the case. “I read a newspaper article that said New Zealand took only one fifth per capita of refugees compared to Australia. I looked into that and saw we hadn’t increased our refugee quota in 30 years.”

In 2013 Murdoch, a Wellington-based university lecturer, set up a voluntary campaign called ‘Doing Our Bit’ to push for a doubling of New Zealand’s refugee quota.

Last year the government announced the number of refugees New Zealand will accept would increase from 750 to 1000 each year by 2018. Murdoch insists the quota needs to double and is taking his message on the road in the lead-up to September’s general election.

He will be speaking in Tauranga on Friday, August 4 about the need to increase the quota, particularly in light of the current Syrian refugee crisis, and how New Zealand communities can help.

“If we consider ourselves a civilised country, we should be matching what other countries like Australia and Canada are doing,” says Murdoch. “It’s not about being a world leader; it’s about doing our fair share.”

Murdoch says the terrible thing is that people associate refugees with the very thing they are fleeing from.

“The same thing happened when Jewish people came here after WWII. We locked some of them up on an island because we worried they might be secret Nazis here to infiltrate the country. Because Syrians are fleeing Isis, people associate them with that war, rather than them trying to escape it.”

Murdoch believes refugees are treated well once they come to New Zealand.

“The government has some good resettlement strategies and the general public has been nothing but welcoming. The latest resettlement centre to open in Dunedin asked for 40 volunteers to help and it got 400 applications. It shows a huge amount of community support for helping people who just need the really basic things that most of us take for granted.”

Tauranga doesn’t have a refugee resettlement centre but Murdoch says people in Tauranga can help refugees by putting pressure on their local MPs to increase the quota.

 “We’re asking people to approach politicians and ask them to support doubling the quota to 1500.”

Murdoch Stephens will be speaking at St George’s Anglican Church, 1 Church St, Gate Pa on Friday, August 4 from 6-8pm. Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy will MC the evening. Admission is free.

Find out more about the Doing Our Bit campaign online



Posted on 01-08-2017 10:26 | By Papamoaner

Hmm, that’s a bit ambiguous then because you said our health system etc has been ["neglected" to the point of being unable to cope even for the Kiwi population]. We might have to agree to disagree on the impact on quality by neglect.

@ Papamoaner

Posted on 31-07-2017 17:10 | By astex

Sorry but I never actually criticised the quality of our health care only the capacity to deliver it. I have experience in the health care system and it is becoming more and more saturated and is struggling to keep up with the increasing load on services. This is also true of the education system, roading and other infrastructure. At NO STAGE did I mention the QUALITY of services.

All those in favour of more refugees

Posted on 30-07-2017 17:33 | By BennyBenson

can opt in to sponsor them financially and house them in their own homes.

I agree with Waiknot and maildrop on this

Posted on 30-07-2017 15:52 | By Papamoaner

It is the only sensible solution. I strongly disagree with Astex this time because those infrastructures and facilities he mentions are excellent. Why do we so often hear people running the place down like that? is it just fashionable copy catting? For example, our hospitals and medic services are WORLD CLASS! Competent staff, modern equipment, all achieved with a population of 5 million. Recently I have been to two Iraqi dentists, one male, one female, both seemingly competent and professional. Many of these refugees will have skills and experience we need. As to importing religious extremism, who knows what the answer or solution to that is? Is it any more threatening than importing it via the internet? Perhaps some of these people might know how to help us counter it. Let’s keep open minds and compassionate hearts.

Cor blimey, maildrop a bit strong old boy.

Posted on 30-07-2017 10:24 | By R. Bell

Mind you I agree with you and waiknot, refugees come in all shapes and sizes and generally do well. The problems Australia and others are having is often ( not always) second generational. Young people growing up amidst prejudice and indifference, lets face it we have heaps of that in Tauranga and N.Z. in general. Inward looking people, well represented here. Robin Bell.

Charity should start at home first

Posted on 30-07-2017 10:03 | By maybelle

This is what I have been taught. Nz is a small country and we have enough social issues to deal with first, and until kiwis have proper shelter, food, and support, how can we think to support anyone else?. .Allowing foreigners in to live in our country is a fine gesture, but when they live here under their own ways it seems that they just come here and rape and pillage our, they take all our shellfish, not just enough for a feed. I do not want to see our beautiful country depleted of our resources so there is none for our future generations, and turned into a barren wasteland.

At y'all

Posted on 30-07-2017 07:32 | By maildrop

There doesn’t seem to be a problem with funding an army and deploying SAS and all it’s infrastructure to foreign lands. The fact is that to even get refugee status means they have skills. Their command of written English is probably on a par with the comments displayed on here. The facts are that they have a net positive financial effect on the economy. The infrastructure may well be creaking but I don’t think this is due to any refugees is it? Maybe we could do a swap and send them thousands of illiterate, bigoted and lazy Kiwi spongers?

Bloody sad comments I read here.

Posted on 29-07-2017 20:59 | By waiknot

It’s simple really we have being allowing any number of low skilled workers into New Zealand who are really financial refugees. Put a lid on this and let more genuine refugees in.

No thanks

Posted on 29-07-2017 17:36 | By overit

The PC Brigade have killed this country.


Posted on 29-07-2017 15:36 | By Tgaboy

Not interested in hosting more refugees. Not at all. My taxes aren’t stretching far enough to create the infrastructure that helps kiwis let alone Mr and Mrs Cribbableinsteinministov and their 6 children.


Posted on 29-07-2017 15:23 | By phoenix

Australia are allowing more and more refugees into their country and more and more problems are arising because those coming in are attempting to bring their problems and convert, into a mini,where they have come from. Not prepared to adopt the way of life of the country that has provided a safe haven for them, but attempting to force their way of life on Australia has allowed more and more refugees into their country and a considerable number of those are not prepared to accept the way of life of the country offering them a new hope,but attempting to bring a mini situation of where they have come from.This is causing increasing strife to those who are trying to help them.Large increases in refugee numbers will only make this Worse. We should learn from their mistakes.

doesn't solve the problem

Posted on 29-07-2017 15:22 | By Uncle G

Syria and other similar countries will never get any better if the brightest and educated citizens are taken out. They need to stay where they are and help out their own countrymen. That’s been the western attitude and it worked fairly well.

doesn't solve the problem

Posted on 29-07-2017 15:21 | By Uncle G

Syria and other similar countries will never get any better if the brightest and educated citizens are taken out. They need to stay where they are and help out their own countrymen. That’s been the western attitude and it worked fairly well.

my thoughts only on this

Posted on 29-07-2017 12:29 | By old trucker

Where is everybody going to live, GOSH we cannot support ourselves let alone bringing more in, until we can find homes for ourselves put it off for a while till things settle down, just wondering wether murdock has room for all of them at his place, personally i feel it is wrong for someone to ask for more people to come in to our yard,only my thoughts on this subject, Sunlive, Thankyou, 10-4, out.

We have enough problems..

Posted on 29-07-2017 11:00 | By Me again

of our own, with our people. We want better housing, jobs that pay a decent wage etc, etc, etc. I real do not care if Australia or Fiji or whoever are taking in more refugees than us. There are examples of refugees in other countries causing strife, expecting to live how they are use to in their own country. I believe if you are accepted in a foreign land then you live by their rules, not bring theirs and practice it. If they do wrong then deportation should be handed to them not "cherry-pie" in our prison system. Just saying my bit.


Posted on 29-07-2017 09:47 | By astex

As much as I sympathise with the plight of refugees we have to be realistic about this issue. We do not have the infrastructure to cope with any immigration, be it refugee or otherwise. Our health system, education, roading etc have been neglected to the point of being unable to cope even for the Kiwi population. We need to put a hold on immigration until the basic infrastructure "catches up". We only need to look at the chaos in Europe to see the consequences of being "good samaritans" for the world.


Posted on 29-07-2017 09:35 | By Ness

Look after our own first and foremost and to help this happen the Maori need to put there millions into housing the homeless instead of moaning about it, I know good Maori that are working hard and struggling whilst the fat cats sit back that’s hardly a fair system.

the wars over

Posted on 29-07-2017 09:24 | By Darth Vader NZ

they can all go home now

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now
Opinion Poll

Do you think offering free bus services to school students will help reduce traffic on the roads?