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No need for values statement: Woodhouse

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/06/2016

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has issued a challenge to ACT Party leader David Seymour after he suggested refugees be asked to sign a so-called values statement when they come to New Zealand.

While Mr Seymour backs the government's decision to up the annual refugee quota from 750 to 1000, he wants more to be done to ensure those arriving here share New Zealand's values.

In Australia and Belgium, immigrants are required to sign a statement of commitment to national values and Mr Seymour says New Zealand could have one too.

But Mr Woodhouse doesn't think there's any need for that.

"I suggest David Seymour goes to [the Mangere refugee resettlement centre] and meets some of these people. I've been to many welcomes and it's quite extraordinary to see the enthusiasm for embracing New Zealand's culture and values," he told reporters.

"For people who can't speak English, to stand up and sing a waiata in response, in Maori, to our welcome is quite moving and I think it speaks volumes to their willingness to embrace New Zealand values."

Mr Woodhouse doesn't think there needs to be a written rule around values.

"What we need is to give our recent migrants every opportunity to celebrate their background and culture, but also to contribute to ours and I see that all the time," he said.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says requiring refugees to sign a values statement has long been part of his party's immigration policy.

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