Ensuring direct participation from refugee background communities in decision making processes affecting issues of key concern domestically and internationally

Who We Are

Our Values

“Nothing about us, without us” – Nihil de nobis, sine nobis:

We believe that no policy and strategy related to refugees should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of persons from a refugee background.

Our values:    Integrity, respect,  value differences,  mutual support,  equity,  cooperation,  partnership.

Our History

During the early 2000s, a few like-minded refugees put their desire to have a platform from where collective voices could be heard into establishing the New Zealand National Refugee Association (“NZNRA”), formerly known as “New Zealand National Refugee Network”.

After years of talks and conversations with our refugee background communities across New Zealand, we were formally established in 2009, with the presence of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and our refugee communities from all regions across New Zealand, as a loose network of refugee background non-governmental organisations and community groups working together to raise the issues of refugee background communities at national and international levels.

In the NZNRA, “Nothing about us without us” means that no decision concerning refugees should be made without our full and direct participation. Dealing with refugee issues does not only require an adequate level of expertise, but also a great level of humanity and empathy. Caring is a fundamental aspect of dealing with our issues, which can truly be achieved through understanding our journeys, and this can only be done through our direct and full participation concerning dealing with our issues.

We have since grown as an effective association actively supporting our members to promote dialogue, collaboration, information exchange and advocacy on issues of key concern.

Our Vision

We envision well-informed refugee background-led civil society organisations and refugee background communities positively influencing and participating in all levels of decision-making processes at national and international levels.

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote and protect the rights of refugees by advocating on regional, national, and international levels, and lobbying for changes in policies and legislation to ensure this.

Our People

Ahmed Tani - ONZM


Ahmed Tani is our co-founder, and he also played a key role in founding the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre (formerly “Canterbury Refugee Council), where he is the Director. Mr. Tani has been instrumental in forming several community groups and subgroups in Christchurch as well as inter-faith committees. He is a senior member of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, and he is part of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network.

Hassan Beigi

Vice Chairperson

 A lawyer in his native country, having worked with the United Nations and the New Zealand Army, now a business owner in New Zealand, Hassan Beigi is our Vice-chair. He chairs the Waikato refugee forum and is a committee member of Hamilton’s Afghanistan cultural association.

Jean Christophe Massimba


Being a polyglot, holding a master’s degree in mathematics, having studied all over the world, and now working as a maths teacher in New Zealand, Mr. Massimba has been a key figure for refugee voices. He chaired and led the Manawatu Refugee Resettlement Forum, which has played a significant role in strengthening refugee voices in Palmerston North, and at a national level, Mr. Massimba has been key to raising refugee voices and issues of key concern. Mr. Massimba is one of our Executive members, being our Treasurer. 

Nora Milena Arango

Youth and Women Coordinator

Nora Arango has been a member of our Executive since November 2021, being responsible for the Youth and Women Portfolio. Nora is a senior member of the Colombian community in New Zealand. She chairs the Hamilton Colombian Community Trust, vice-chairs the Waikato Refugee Forum, and volunteers and works in the resettlement sector supporting refugee background communities settle and resettle into New Zealand.

Adam awad

Executive Member

A valued member of the NZNRA Executive, Adam Awad has played an important role in founding refugee background-led organisations including ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum. Mr. Awad has been involved with NZNRA since inception. His skills around networking, community leadership, and organisational strategy are much valued at NZNRA. 

Maureen Zaya

Council Member

A valued member of the NZNRA council, Maureen Zaya works in the public sector supporting migrant and refugee background communities, currently as a Senior Advisor at MoE. Maureen has been instrumental in founding refugee background-led organisations in Aotearoa such as ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum, and we value having her as a NZNRA council member.  

Paula Santacruz

Office Manager

Paula Santacruz is an enrolled barrister and solicitor of the High Court, and is passionate about the law of armed conflict, international criminal law, and migration and refugee law. At her young age, Paula has extensive experience in the resettlement sector, having worked and volunteered supporting refugee background communities since 2016. She is our Office Manager, and her role includes ensuring that NZNRA’s activities align with our strategic objectives. 

office@nznra.org  |  021 394 515

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