The #KiwisWelcome video via VMLY&R aims to confront how New Zealanders view refugees
In the lead up to World Refugee Day on 20th June, Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ) has partnered with well-known Kiwis including former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Patron of RASNZ, Helen Clark, actor Sam Neill and ex-All Black and mental health advocate John Kirwan to shine light on the refugee journey.
Dr Ann Hood, CEO of RASNZ, which works to support refugees’ transition to New Zealand, said a significant problem faced by people from refugee backgrounds is a lack of awareness about their journey to this country and their rights to a safe home. “New Zealand is a country that prides itself on community and inclusion. However, many refugees arriving in NZ continue to face prejudice about their right to belong and contribute within our society. Once people from refugee backgrounds are settled in New Zealand, they are no longer refugees – a status you only have when you have no place to call home – they’re Kiwis, just like us,” said Dr Hood.
The agency worked with Exposure and Franklin Road to produce the video, which also features Madeleine Sami, Sonny Bill Williams and Golriz Ghahraman, the first refugee to be elected to New Zealand’s parliament.
“Once a refugee reaches our shore, they become Kiwi. They’re Kiwis, just like you and me. Looking to make a fresh start, free from war, free from torture, free from famine, persecution, and political upheaval – free from everything that makes a refugee a refugee,” says Helen Clark and others, in the #KiwisWelcome video.
“We’re extremely grateful to the incredible New Zealanders who generously stepped up from where they were around the world to give their time and their voices, before and during lockdown, to create a message of unity and inclusion,” said Kim Pick, ECD at VMLY&R. “And also to our partners at Exposure, Franklin Road, BCW and JCDecaux for joining us to support RASNZ and make #KiwisWelcome for World Refugee Day.”
The video concept was created by VMLY&R New Zealand for RASNZ as part of VMLY&R Worldwide Foundation Day, where to celebrate the network’s first anniversary, VMLY&R closed all 82 offices across the globe for a day to give more than 6,500 employees the opportunity to support their communities through volunteer projects.
Exposure’s Kevin Denholm added: “Exposure has a long history of involvement with refugees both in New Zealand and abroad so we were delighted to be able to get behind this campaign.”
Director Tim Parsons concluded: “It’s a cause we’re passionate about, and we really liked the way the idea played with social media as a flawed but powerful medium with huge potential to seed positive change. It was a really fun, collaborative process that evolved naturally and landed in a lovely place.”