Community voice to help shape immigration policy


Migrant communities across New Zealand are represented in the new Migrant Community Reference Group that will help shape immigration policy going forward, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced today.

 “Since becoming Minister, a reoccurring message I have heard from migrants is the feeling their voice has often been missing around policy discussions. Today we are providing that voice,” Michael Wood said.

 “The Migrant Community Reference Group will provide a forum for migrant communities’ to directly share their perspectives and experiences of the immigration system with me.

 “My medium-term priorities for the immigration system will be informed through discussions with the reference group alongside other stakeholders including employers and workers.

 “The members have diverse backgrounds and deep ties to their communities and come highly recommended from their prior engagements across multiple government agencies.

 “They have each displayed a strong commitment to championing the cause of migrant communities in New Zealand.

 “Insights from the group may also be shared with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and other government agencies to help make informed decisions. The group will not replace my regular engagement with migrant communities around the country, but will supplement it.

 “Our Government values the unique perspective migrants can provide on the immigration system,” Michael Wood said.

Members of the Migrant Community Reference Group are:

Saimoni Lealea, MNZM

  • Wellington-based Sai has extensive experience in governance leadership across the private and public sectors, particularly relating to the Fijian community and wider Pasifika interests

 Dr Kelly Feng, MNZM

  • Auckland-based Kelly migrated from China in 2002.She is the Chief Executive of Asian Family Services, a nationwide health and social services provider for the Asian community in New Zealand. Kelly previously led and developed the Asian Mental Health Services for the Waitemata District Health Board in 2007 and her leadership in numerous Asian-focused research projects has helped to raise awareness and understanding of the mental health needs of the Asian community.

Manisha Morar

  • Wellington-based Manisha is current Vice President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, the only national umbrella body for regional Indian community groups in New Zealand (outside of faith-based groups), and the Vice President of the Wellington Indian Association

Dr Margriet Theron, ONZM

  • Rotorua-based Dr Theron moved from South Africa in 1978 and has been President of the Rotorua Multicultural Council since 2016, and a member for more than 20 years. Since retiring from a career in science management, Margriet has taken on numerous governance roles in community organisations and teaches a Professional Speaking for Migrants course for the Rotorua Multicultural Council and a Professional Speaking for GPs course for overseas qualified doctors

Anita Mansell, QSM

  • Wellington-based Anita is a former president and current board member of the Hutt Multicultural Council. Since moving to New Zealand from the Philippines in 1983, Anita has been a member of various local and central government initiatives such as the National Police Ethnic Strategy and refugee health and wellbeing forums

Mitchell Pham, ONZM

  • Auckland-based Mitchell is a Vietnamese-Kiwi technology business and social entrepreneur who originally arrived in New Zealand as a refugee at the age of 13. Outside of business activities, Mitchell has served as Chair of Digital Council for Aotearoa NZ, NZTech, FinTechNZ, NZ ASEAN Business Alliance. He is currently Chair of the NZ Asia Institute, and Chair of the External Steering Group for Immigration New Zealand’s Refugee and Migrant Settlement Strategy Refresh.

Abdur Razzaq

  • Wellington-based Abdur is a highly respected elder in the Muslim community, with over 45 years of voluntary community service. He is a founding member of the Federation of Islamic Associations (FIANZ), the national Muslim umbrella organisation.  He is also the Research and Advocacy lead of FIANZ. He is also a member of Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques.

Vikram Selvaraj

  • Gisborne-based Vikram came to New Zealand in 2018 from Singapore with his partner as an international student at the University of Canterbury, to study a Bachelor of Criminal Justice. He is the current President of the New Zealand International Students’ Association.

Lealiifanovalevale Erolia Eteuati Rooney

  • Dunedin-based Erolia is a well-respected leader in the Pasifika communities - “Lealiifanovalevale” is a chiefly title. She has been a member of various Pasifika advisory committees and support groups. Erolia is a registered medical laboratory scientist with the New Zealand Blood Service and is currently on secondment with Te Whatu Ora as the Interim Regional Pacific Lead (Communities/Providers) Te Waipounamu in the Pacific Health Directorate.

Mikee Santos

  • Auckland-based Mikee is the chair of Migrante Aotearoa, a grass-roots, non-profit organisation focused on advancing the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants in New Zealand. He is also the Coordinator of the Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG via FIRST Union).

 Membership of the group is for 12 months, at which point the group’s role and function will be reviewed. After the first meeting, meetings will be held online every quarter.

For more information on the group, including more complete descriptions of each member, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website.